26 April 2012

Nigeria: N21 Billion Fraud - Court Fixes May 22 to Hear Saraki's Application

The Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed May 22 to hear Sen. Bukola Saraki's application to stop the police from investigating a N21 billion fraud allegation against him.

Justice Gladys Olotu adjourned proceedings on the matter on Thursday due to the late service of the counter affidavit filed by Chief Femi Falana, counsel to the police.

Saraki, an ex-Governor of Kwara, had on April 25, approached the court with an exparte application, seeking to restrain the police from interrogating him over alleged conspiracy, forgery and stealing of N21 billion.

The money was said to belong to Joy Petroleum Ltd, an oil service company.

His counsel, Mr Lawal Rabana (SAN), had said that the application was for the enforcement of Saraki's fundamental rights.

Rabana said his client was invited by the Police Special Anti-fraud Unit, Lagos, to state his involvement or otherwise in the matter.

He told the court that Saraki had had no dealing with the company, adding that the litigation was intended to bar the police from tarnishing "the good name of his client."

In a counter affidavit, Falana submitted that the plaintiff, while serving as governor, had influenced the purchase of some companies' stocks, including that of Joy Petroleum Ltd, through the Kwara State Ministry for Finance.

The police counsel added that Saraki was the promoter of Joy Petroleum Ltd., having used his properties to guarantee loans taken by the company.

Falana said that names contained in the documents of a bank linked to the transaction, included that of his wife, Toyin, and the former Commissioner for Finance now Governor of the state, Abdulfatah Ahmed.

He added that the stock purchased by the Kwara State Ministry of Finance was used as collateral for the loan approved to Joy Petroleum Ltd by the bank.

According to Falana, the bank was aware of the status of the company's promoter, adding that Saraki had knowledge of the transactions.

NAN reports that the defendant also listed the other companies promoted by the plaintiff as Dicetrade Nigeria Ltd and Likam Nig. Ltd.

Falana said the companies shared one registered office address: No. 10, Abebe Village, Iganmu, Lagos.

"They also operated one office address: No. 30 Saka Tinubu Street, Victorial Island, Lagos, described as property of the plaintiff."

The judge adjourned further hearing to May 22.

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