N1.7bn Subsidy Fraud: Judge’s absence stalls trial of oil marketer

scales-justice19 December 2013, Lagos – The absence of the judge on Tuesday stalled the trial of an oil marketer, Samuel Owa, and a cargo surveyor, Onassis Wajutom, over alleged N1.7 billion fuel subsidy fraud.

The trial could not continue before a Federal High Court, Lagos, as Justice Ibrahim Buba was said to be on an official assignment out of the state.

The trial will continue on February 3, 2014.

Messrs Owa and Wajutom are standing trial along with their companies, Stone Bridge Oil Ltd. and Vibrant Ventures Ltd, respectively.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned the accused on June 18 on a four- count charge, but they pleaded not guilty.

Each of the accused was granted bail in the sum of N500 million with two sureties in like sum.

At the last sitting of the court over the case, the Prosecutor, Dania Abdullahi, called two witnesses, each from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulating Agency and the Department of Petroleum Resources.

Both witnesses testified that the accused fraudulently claimed to have imported about 144, 999 metric tonnes of petrol.

According to the EFCC, the accused fraudulently obtained N1.7 billion from the Federal Government on the pretext of having imported the tonnes of PMS.

The commission said that Mr. Wajutom and Vibrant Ventures aided Mr. Owa and Stone Bridge Oil Ltd. to fraudulently obtain the sum, while acting as cargo surveyors.

It said that the offences contravened Section 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2004, and attract from seven to 20 years imprisonment.


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