Three oil marketers -Mahmud Tukur, Alex Ochonogor and Abdullahi Alao – yesterday lost their bids to quash the N1.5 billion fuel subsidy fraud charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos High Court, Ikeja, dismissed the application filed by the defendants and their firms – Eterna Plc and Axe Energy Limited – for lack of merit.
The defendants are facing a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences and forgery preferred against them by the EFCC.
The agency had alleged that they obtained the money from the Petroleum Support Fund for a purported importation of 80.3 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Their counsels – Messrs Olaniran Obele, Ebun Adegoruwa and Aderemi Oguntoye – however argued that the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the case.
They maintained that the proof of evidence did not support the offences alleged against the defendants.
According to them, the criminal charge against their clients was an abuse of court process and should be struck out.
The defence lawyers further argued that the EFCC failed to obtain a valid fiat from the Attorney-General of Lagos State to empower them to prosecute the defendants before the state high court.
They said the issues in dispute related to fuel importation and revenue of the Federal Government hence the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the charges.
But EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), in his response urged the court to dismiss the application because the issues raised had already being decided by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.