The ongoing trial of Abubakar Ali Peters and his company, Nadabo Energy Limited, for alleged N1.4billion fraud, before Justice C.A. Balogun of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos continued on Wednesday with the court admitting in evidence more documents tendered by the prosecution to prove the case against the defendants.
Abubakar and his company are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 27-count charge for allegedly using forged documents to obtain N1,465,961,978.24 from the Federal Government as oil subsidy, after allegedly inflating the quantity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, purportedly imported and supplied by the company.
One of the counts reads: “Nadabo Energy Limited and Abubakar Ali Peters, on or about the 3rd day of April, 2012 at Lagos, within the Lagos Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, fraudulently obtained the sum of N978,401,732.09 (Nine Hundred and Seventy-eight Million Four Hundred and One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty-two Naira Nine Kobo) from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely claiming that the sum represented subsidy accrued to Nadabo Energy Limited under the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation of 19,488,992 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which Nadabo Energy Limited purported to have purchased from Ashland SA Geneva Switzerland, and transported the 19,488,992 litres of PMS through MT American Express (Mother Vessel) and MT. St. Vanessa (Daughter Vessel) to Nigeria, whereas Nadabo Energy Limited only imported 6,505,140.04 litres of PMS to Nigeria through MT Evridiki (Mother Vessel) and MT St Vanessa (Daughter Vessel).”
Another count reads: “Nadabo Energy Limited and Abubakar Ali Peters, on or about the 25th day of October 2011 at Lagos, within the Lagos Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, and in order to facilitate your obtaining money by false pretence from the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF), forged a document titled: Certificate of Marine Insurance no. 0047851 and purported the Marine Insurance certificate to have been issued by Staco Insurance Plc to Nadabo Energy Limited.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were arraigned on December 10, 2012.
At today’s proceedings, Justice Balogun delivered a ruling on the admissibility of some documents, which the prosecuting counsel, S.K. Atteh, had, at the sitting of November 16, 2021, sought to tender through the fifth prosecution witness, the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa.
The documents included correspondences between the EFCC and Enterprise Bank (then Spring Bank) as well as Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank).
However, the defence counsel, E.O. Isiramen, had objected to the admissibility of the responses from the two banks to the EFCC.
Delivering ruling, Justice Balogun dismissed the objection raised by the defence and admitted the documents as exhibits against the defendants.
Bawa, thereafter, continued with his examination-in-chief.
Led in evidence by Atteh, he told the court that after receiving the responses from Enterprise Bank, the EFCC sent a letter of investigation activities to the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
He said: “We furnished them with our findings for them to compute the subsidy that ought to have been paid to the defendant.
“They acknowledged receipt of the EFCC letter and later responded in writing.”
Bawa identified the EFCC letter to the PPPRA and the certified true copies of the responses from the PPPRA, with its attached documents.
When Atteh, thereafter, sought to tender the documents, there was no objection from the defence.
The documents were, therefore, admitted in evidence as exhibits against the defendants.
According to Bawa, the EFCC afterwards wrote to the defendants, adding that “The second defendant, Abubakar Ali Peters came to our office on 5, Fomella Street, Wuse 2, Abuja; and after our interview with him regarding the involvement of the first defendant (Nadabo Energy Limited), he volunteered to make a statement.
“He was duly cautioned in English Language.”
Thereafter, he identified the statements made to the EFCC by the defendant on January 28, 2012, and February 8, 2012.
He further added that the defendant later used a courier to send to the EFCC a booklet, which he had earlier submitted to the PPPRA for the purpose of receiving subsidy funds.
Thereafter, when Atteh sought to tender the statements and the booklet, there was no objection from the defence.
Justice Balogun admitted the statements as Exhibit V, V1 and V2, while the booklet was admitted as Exhibit W.
Bawa further told the Court that upon completion of investigations, he prepared a nine-page document as “the synopsis of our own understanding of what transpired in this particular transaction”.
When Atteh sought to tender the said document, there was no objection from the defence.
It was, therefore, admitted in evidence as Exhibit X.
Giving a summary of the EFCC investigation, Bawa said: “The defendant imported into the country 6,505,140 litres of PMS equivalent to 4,850.962MT.
“Looking at the landing costs, he ought to have been paid N487,560,246.15, but he was paid and collected N1,465,961,978.24 for claiming to have imported 19,488,992 litres of PMS, which shows that he allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of Nigeria to the tune of N978,401,732.09.”
The case has been adjourned till December 20 and 21, 2021 for continuation of hearing