The ongoing trial of Abubakar Ali Peters and his company, Nadabo Energy Limited, for an alleged fraud of N1.4 billion, before Judge CA Balogun of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos s ‘is continued Tuesday, the Court admitting into evidence all the documents filed. by the prosecution of the accused.
Mr Abubakar and his company are being sued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly using false documents to obtain N 1,464,961,978.24 from the federal government as an oil subsidy, after allegedly inflating the amount of Premium Motor Spirit, a PMS allegedly imported and supplied by the company.
In a statement, EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said they had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them.
Prosecution attorney SK Atteh, at the hearing on March 10, 2021, requested the submission of correspondence between the EFCC and Petrocam Trading PYT Limited as well as the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, regarding the alleged fraud.
He had sought to present them through the executive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who is the fifth prosecution witness and lead investigator.
The defence team, led by EO Isiramen, however, raised objections to the admissibility of the documents, citing several authorities, including Article 83 of the Evidence Act.
He had argued that the documents requested to be produced had been brought to the attention of the defence during the trial, several years after the start of the case.
“The defence should not be taken by surprise,” he said.
In his response, Mr Atteh quoted several authorities as saying that “the difference here is that the documents were not simply created when they were included as further evidence.”
In rendering his decision today, Judge Balogun dismissed the defence objections as unfounded.
Regarding the correspondence between the EFCC and Petrocam, Judge Balogun considered that “the documents requested to be filed already existed before the filing of this case.
“Petrocam only provided the EFCC with documents on what had already happened; and therefore, there is no surprise for the defence.
On the exceptions raised to the admissibility of the correspondence between the EFCC and the CAC, the Judge reminded the defence of its decision of February 2, 2021, on a similar argument still under examination.
The judge said: “The Court is still bound by its decision regarding certifying officers and payment for certification and must comply with its earlier ruling. And therefore, in the circumstances, the objection is dismissed.
Subsequently, the letters of investigative activities written by the EFCC to Petrocam and the CAC as well as the responses of the two agencies were admitted into evidence against the defendants as exhibits O4, O5 and O51.
Further testifying, Mr Bawa told the court that the correspondence was carefully considered during the investigation.
He also told the court that the correspondence uncovered several activities aimed at defrauding the federal government of fuel subsidy funds.
He said: “We studied the responses from Petrocam and found that, contrary to the Respondent’s contention that Ashland Energy SA was the supplier, it was Petrocam Trading PYT Limited which provided approximately 4,500 MT equivalent to approximately 6.5 million litres of PMS as against the claim of approximately 14,000 MT of PMS equivalent to approximately 19.8 million litres allegedly supplied by the defendant.
“The response also confirmed to us that Letter of Credit (LC) # SPG / DLC / 11/0013 is in fact in favour of Petrocam and not Ashland Energy as claimed by the alleged documents of the Respondent.
“We also discovered that the daughter ship, MT St Vanessa, received the product on December 2, 2011, from a mother ship, MT Eviridiki, which was contrary to the Respondent’s claim that on December 2 201, the MT Vanessa received the products from MT American Express.
“The correspondence with the ACC,” he said, “confirmed that Abubakar was one of the shareholders and directors of the company and that indeed the company was duly registered.”
As part of the investigation and fallout from correspondence with Petrocam, Bawa said investigative activity letters were sent to Enterprise Bank Limited, requesting to receive copies of the instruments used for the use of certain funds in the account of the first defendant.
He added: “The bank received our original letter, acknowledged receipt of the copy and therefore responded to our letter in writing, attaching copies of the requested documents.
“We also wrote another letter of inquiry to Skye Bank Plc to obtain copies of the account opening documents and the account statement of the first defendant.
“The bank duly acknowledged receipt and also responded in writing, attaching all the requested documents and an identification certificate.
“We have studied the account statement and found that the said account is the account which received the subsidy payment of over 1N.4 billion on April 4, 2012, in favour of the transaction in the case before this court. honourable. “
According to him, further analysis indicated that “the entire grant payment received was used by the defendant, including a huge transfer of N850 million to Enterprise Bank, which we found to be for the liquidation of the LC raised in favour of Petrocam for the actual amount of the transaction that took place.
He further stated that “Spring Bank was then approached by the defendant to finance the said importation.
“The bank accepted and raised the letter of credit valued at $ 4.8 million in favour of Petrocam.
According to him, the investigation showed that the defendant contacted a certain Mr Jide Offor Akpan of International Maritime and Shipping Ltd, who assisted in chartering the MT St Vanessa, adding that “it was the same vessel that received 6.5 million litres on December 2, 2011, from Petrocam based on the LC that was raised.
“We discovered that Q & Q Control Services Limited had been engaged by the Respondent to assist with the ship-to-ship transfer of 6.5 million litres or approximately 4,500 tonnes of PMS from MT Eviridiki to MT St Vanessa.
“We also discovered that St Vanessa had only recovered 6.5 million litres of product from MT Eviridiki on December 2, 2011, and unloaded them on behalf of the defendant at the Masters Energy depot in Port Harcourt.”
According to him, the findings were contrary to the allegations contained in the documents submitted by the defendant to the Petroleum Products Regulatory and Pricing Agency, PPPRA.
Subsequently, Mr Atteh sought to bid on the matches between the EFCC and Enterprise Bank as well as Skye Bank.
However, although Isiramen did not object to the admissibility of the EFCC letters, it did object to the admissibility of the responses from the two banks.
Following the arguments of the defence and the prosecution, citing several authorities, Judge Balogun adjourned until December 7, 2021, for “decision and continuation of the trial”.