Court denies oil subsidy scam suspect bail

*Frowns at dual identity

Abdulwahab Abdulah, Onozure Dania & Michael Oladepo

02 August 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – An Ikeja High Court yesterday refused to grant bail to one of the oil marketers, Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo who is being prosecuted alongside others on the ground of his previous criminal records even as others were admitted to bail.

Ogunbambo, who was charged with Habila Theck and Fargo Energy Limited for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government by illegally collecting N980 million Petroleum Support Fund, PSF, was ordered to be remanded in Ikoyi Prison pending the commencement of his trial.

Ogunbambo was docked on a six-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents to obtain N976, 653, 110. 98 from the Petroleum Support Fund.

Babajide Koku, SAN, who represented him had urged the court to grant bail to the accused on liberal terms, assuring that he would not jump bail or interfere with the trial.

Although, Ogunbambo’s counsel told the court that his client has never had a criminal case against him, the prosecution however told the court that the accused had always been jumping bail in all the cases filed against him, making it difficult to arraign him.

Prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs opposed the bail application on three grounds. According to him, Ogunbanbo was having a criminal allegation levelled against him by Stanbic IBTC Bank where he was said to have collected loans to the tune of N230million and N430million respectively with forged documents and had since jumped bail.

EFCC alleges accused has dual identities
The second ground was that he was sometime ago arrested at Dublin Airport with cash, which he refused to declare to the authorities. He said the Ireland Embassy had already petitioned the EFCC over the matter and Ogunbambo’s two passports had been seized by the anti-graft agency but that he still has another passport with which he has been travelling outside the country.

The third ground he said was on his multiple identities.

According to the prosecution lawyer, “Ogunbambo changes name as he likes. This is a clear case from the past rulings by the court. The facts are unique. We have shown that the evidence against the accused are quite heavy and the charge a serious one. He used different names. His name is just a wearing apparel, which he changes as he likes. If he is in the UK, he is Benson Adekunbo Oladapo Sobowale but in this case he claimed to be Oluwaseun Ogunbambo. He jumped bail. We can’t find him and a defendant can’t be tried in absentia,” Jacobs told the court.

The prosecution, however, raised no objection to the bail application of the second defendant, Habila Theck, who he said had lived up to his undertaking with the EFCC.

Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, in his ruling held that ordinarily he would not have refused him bail because it is a constitutional right and the offence is bailable.

He said the issue of dual identity cast huge question on the accused and therefore the bail application failed and is hereby refused.

Justice Onigbanjo however granted bail to the second defendant, Habila Thech in the sum of N20million and two sureties each in the like sum.

One of the sureties must be employed in the federal civil service on grade 14 and verified by the Head of Service. The second surety must be employed by Lagos State and possess property valued at N100million and must submit original title of the property to the court after verification by the Land Registry. The accused was also required to deposit his international passport with the EFCC while the accused must report every Monday of the month to the agency.

Court grants bail to Arisekola’s son
Meanwhile, another Ikeja High Curt judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru granted bail to Abdulahi Alao, son of Ibadan based business man, Alhaji Alao Arisekola in the sum of N100 million over his alleged involvement and his company, Axenergy oil in a N1.9 billion oil subsidy scam

Arisekola’s son was last week arraigned before Justice Habeeb Abiru, who refused to hear his bail application following an objection raised by Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC’s counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, who said he would file a counter affidavit on point of law.

The defence counsel, Babajide Koku, SAN, had argued that Alao never had any criminal record and should be presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court.

“We depose that he will not jump bail. He is a family man. He will be available whenever required. He has a name to protect. Our prayer is that your lordship grant the first defendant bail on liberal terms.”

However, EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs argued that the court should consider the fact that the amount involved in the case was high and the judge should refuse the bail application.

In his ruling, Justice Abiru granted him bail in the sum of N100 million with two sureties who must be residents and owners of landed property in Lagos.

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  • It is sad and unfortunate that these are the type of characters whom the PPPRA identified as fit and proper to import petroleum products into the country for our collective consumption. The question now is what happens to those who prequalified this character? What measures are being put in place to keep out characters like this?

  • 9aija in predicament.