Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday ordered the remand of four directors of Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged £2.6 billion fraud.
The order was sequel to the arraignment of the directors alongside the firm, Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited, on a seven-count charge bordering on the alleged offence by the anti-graft agency.
The oil company’s directors ordered to be remanded are Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze and Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze.
The accused were arraigned by the EFCC but pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
The EFCC, in the charge marked FHC/L/46c/2020, brought against the four directors alongside the oil company and one Prince Isaac Okpala (now deceased) were alleged to have committed the offences between 1994 and 2007.
They were alleged to have fraudulently procured a cheque from a foreign bank in the sum of £2.556 billion, under the pretext that it was meant to construct three petrochemical refinery complexes in Nigeria.
They were also alleged to have sometime in April 2007, forged a statement of account in the name of Goldmatic Limited, which was used to obtain the sum of £2.159, 221, 313.54 billion.
The four directors were also accused of altering a bank cheque dated December 29, 1994, in the sum of £2.556 billion, made payable to Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates, for the purpose of constructing three petrochemical refineries in Nigeria.
According to the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, a Senior Advocate of Niger (SAN), the offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 1(2), 1(2)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
The offences are also said to be contrary to and punishable under sections 509, 467(2)(I) and 468 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation if Nigeria, 2004.
Following their plea of not guilty, the prosecutor, Jacobs asked the court for their remand and also trial date. Responding, defence lawyers, Olasubomi Adegbemisoye and Bashir Ramon, drew the court’s attention to the bail motions of their clients, which they said will be served on the prosecution.
They equally urged the court to order their clients’ remand in EFCC’s custody owing to their state of health.
After listening to the submissions of parties, Justice Liman adjourned the matter to February 19, for trial and hearing of the defendants’ bail motion. He also directed that the defendants be remanded in EFCC’s custody.