19 June 2014

Nigeria: N1.3 Billion Fuel Subsidy Fraud - Judge's Absence Stalls Trial of 2 Oil Marketers

The absence of Justice Musa Kurya of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday stalled the trial of two oil marketers charged with N1.3 billion fuel subsidy fraud.

The accused -- Chinyerem Nweze and Olaniran Ogundipe - are charged alongside their companies -- Geacan Energy Ltd and Petroleum Brokers Ltd -- on a six-count charge bordering on conspiracy and fraud.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no reason was given for the absence of the judge.

The case was, however, adjourned to Oct. 27 for continuation of trial.

NAN also reports that at the last adjournment on April 30, the prosecutor, Mr Dania Abdullahi, had informed the court that some of the police witnesses had been transferred out of the court's jurisdiction.

He prayed the court for more time to enable him to assemble the witnesses and regularise his position.

The judge had adjourned the case at the instance of the prosecution.

The accused, who were arraigned on Sept. 13, 2013, had pleaded innocence of the ofences.

They were granted bail in the sum of N1.5 billion each with two sureties each in like sum.

According to the prosecution, the accused committed the offences between January and April 2011.

They were alleged to have fraudulently obtained N1.32 billion from the Federal Government on the pretext of importing about 18,000 litres of petrol.

The prosecutor said the accused also forged a consolidated Hallmark Marine Insurance Certificate to perpetuate the fraud.

He said the offences contravened Sections 1(1), 1(2), 3(1), 8 (a), and 10 (1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

The offences also contravened Section 467 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation 2004.


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