13 February 2013

Nigeria: N976 Million Subsidy Scam - EFCC Accuses Ogunbambo, Others of Forging Cargo, Freight Documents

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday told a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, Kabila Theck and Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited, standing trial on a 10-count amended charge, forged cargo and freight documents used in falsely obtaining the sum of N976, 653,110.28 (Nine hundred and seventy six million, six hundred and fifty-three thousand, one hundred and ten naira, twenty-eight kobo), as subsidy claim from the government.

A principal prosecution witness, AbdulRasheed Bawa, told the court presided over by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, that enquiries made by the EFCC at the Marine Inspectorate Service showed that cargo and freight documents used by the defendants in the subsidy case were forged.

Bawa specifically said that three letters were written to authenticate documents and certificates submitted by Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited for the subsidy funds. One of the letters was sent to the Marine Inspectorate Service to authenticate the documents and a reply came that the documents were forged as they didn't emanate from the Marine.

Bawa said that a representative of the Marine department, one Mr. Ifeanyi confirmed that the documents were forged. The forged document was admitted as exhibit D.

EFCC counsel, Francis Usani, also presented other documents which were acknowledged by Bawa to be certified true copies. Bawa further told the court that in the course of investigation, organizations like Cornerstone Insurance Plc, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Debt Management Office (DMO), were contacted and they made useful revelations. The response by Cornerstone Insurance Plc was admitted by the court as exhibit H.

The witness revealed that In the course of investigation and interrogation, three sets of document were submitted by the second defendants, the first being the bound copies of transaction documents in respect of PMS importation submitted to the PPRA for subsidy claim.

The second set had to do with the third defendant's (Fargo Petroleum & Gas Limited) documentations, including CAC document, returns and some documents from the Nigeria Customs Service. The third set of documents includes bank statements, documents from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) among others.

All these documents were tendered as evidence and admitted as exhibit K. Another letter written to the DMO was admitted as exhibit I. But counsel to the first defendant, Gboyega Oyewole objected to the admittance of the DMO's letter, saying the EFCC deliberately refused to tender the original copy of the letter in court. The objection was overruled by Justice Onigbanjo.

The matter has been adjourned till May 30 and June 10, 2013 for continuation of trial.

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