& Bartholomew Madukwe
12 October 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – A LAGOS Magistrate Court sitting at Tinubu Square, Thursday, remanded the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, 42, and seven other management staff of his company in police custody for 14 days over their alleged involvement in the fuel subsidy scam.
The seven other persons include Nsikan Usoro, 35 (Head of Trading), Chibuzor Ogbuokiri, 48 (General Manager, Operations); Godfrey Okorie, 41 (Depot Manager) and Orji Joseph Anayo, 46 (Executive Director, Operations).
Also remanded at the Special Fraud Unit over fuel subsidy scam was the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Matrix Energy Ltd, Abdulkabir Aliu alongside the firm’s Operations Manager, Yusuf Oyolola and its accountant, Adewale Akinde.
Aliu and members of his staff are to be remanded for 15 days at the Special Fraud Unit for the purpose of completing their investigation. Matrix Energy Limited was alleged to be involved in N13.376 billion fraud.
Magistrate Martins Owumi’s decision was sequel to the application for remand filed by the Commissioner of Police pursuant to Section 264 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2011.
Police said they were suspected to have committed the offences of economic sabotage, obtaining money by false pretences, money laundering and forgery as well as stealing of N43.291 billion property of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to the 11 grounds for the remand request endorsed by Effiong Asuquo, a Superintendent of Police, the suspects obtained the money by falsely pretending that the company had imported and sold 538,74 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit during the 2011 fiscal year through 26 transactions.
The police also said that the fraud was discovered by the Presidential Committee on the verification and reconciliation of fuel subsidy payments, adding: “That the nature of the criminal act and the huge amount involved in the fraud constitute the crime of economic sabotage and capable of undermining the security of Nigeria.”
The police said that evidence and exhibits were being gathered as investigations continued and that the suspects going by their enormous wealth would influence or prevent the gathering of evidence if released from custody at this stage of investigation.
The police further stated that there was high risk of the suspects escaping from the country if not remanded and urged the court to grant them one month within which to conclude investigation.
The police request was supported with a 13-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Francis A. Idu, a Chief Superintendent of Police.
However, despite the passionate and concerted effort of the defendants’ counsel, Bode Olanipekun, who pleaded with the court to admit his clients on bail orally, the court refused to accede to the one month request. Both cases were adjourned till October 31.