26 November 2012

Nigeria: Fuel Subsidy Scam - We've Enough Evidence to Nail Suspects, EFCC Tells Court

Photo: Vanguard
Fuel Subsidy

Abuja — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Monday, told Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of an Abuja High Court that it has gathered enough evidence to nail the trio of Helyn Aninye, Chizobam Ben-Okafor and Pon-Specialized Services Limited over their alleged involvement in the illegal diversion of about N1.4 billion through fuel subsidy scam.

The anti-graft agency is prosecuting the accused persons on an 18-count criminal charge bothering on forgery and obtaining money under false pretence.

Though EFCC made frantic moves to dock them, Monday, however, the plan was thwarted by their counsel, Chief Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, who opposed their arraignment on grounds that the proof of evidence did not disclose a prima facie case against his clients.

He said:"My lord, assuming there are offences to be disclosed, they have not in any way been linked to the applicants, and these links must have a prima facie elements to the applicants."

It was his contention that in a case of forgery, the EFCC ought to have produced the original maker of the alleged forged document.

However, EFCC, through its counsel, Mr Steve Odiase, while seeking for leave to prefer criminal charges against the accused persons under Section 185 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code, maintained that the proof of evidence contained enough prima facie evidence capable of nailing them to the fraud.

He told the court that the prosecution had formulated three issues for determination in granting the application which, according to him, included whether the proof of evidence discloses an offence known to law and whether there is a linking of the charge to the applicants.

"My lord, the statement of one (name withheld) of Quality Marine Services Limited is enough link to the accused persons. Besides, it has been established that in a case of forgery, the accused must not be the maker of the said document before being liable," Odiase said.

The judge who advised counsel not to jump the gun by addressing issues in the substantive case, adjourned to February 21, 2013 for ruling on both applications.

The accused persons were said to have on or about March 3, 2011 atAbujawithin the jurisdiction of the High Court of theFederalCapitalTerritory,Abujawith intent to defraud, conspired to obtain N1.413,507,951.50 under false pretence from the Federal Government of Nigeria as subsidy for the importation Premium Motor Spirit under the Petroleum Support Fund.

The offence according to the charge sheet was contrary to Section 8(a) and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act. 2006.

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