Oil marketers arraigned for alleged N1.3bn subsidy fraud

judiciary20 September 2013, Lagos – Two oil marketers, Chinyerem Nweze, and Olaniran Ogundipe, were, yesterday, arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos over alleged N1.3 billion subsidy fraud.

The accused were charged by the police alongside their companies, Geacan Energy Ltd, and Petroleum Brokers Ltd, on a six-count charge bordering on conspiracy and fraud.
They however pleaded not guilty to the charge.

After the pleas of the accused were taken, the prosecutor prayed the court, presided over by Justice Musa Kurya, to order the remand of the accused in prison, and grant accelerated trial.

Counsel to the accused, however, objected to the application for remand, and informed the court of a bail summons he had filed on behalf of the accused.

He argued that since the accused were granted police administrative bail on September 12, they had always appeared at the Special Fraud Unit, SFU, whenever invited without default.

Counsel to the accused also told the court that the accused were present in court as early as 7a.m. for their arraignment and so there was no likelihood that they would jump bail.

Counsel said: “My Lord, the accused have always demonstrated good faith, by availing themselves for interrogations at SFU, whenever required.

“We have particularly exhibited documents showing the medical conditions of the accused, and which we urge the court to consider in granting bail.

“The first accused is suffering from a severe spinal cord disorder, while the second accused has acute peptic ulcer, which both require proper medical attention.

“It will serve the interest of justice if the accused are admitted to bail on liberal terms, since they have proved themselves to be honest people.”

In reply, the prosecutor informed the court of a counter affidavit he had filed in response to the bail summons.

He argued that an application for remand of an accused was a natural consequence flowing from arraignment, but added that bail was at the discretion of the court.

Justice Kurya, in a short ruling, admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N1.5 billion each, with one surety each in like sum.
*Innocent Anaba, Vanguard

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