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EFCC re-arraigns oil firm directors over £2.6bn fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes C o m m i s s i o n (EFCC) yesterday re-arraigned four Directors of an oil firm, Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited, before Justice Mohammed Liman of a Federal High Court in Lagos on a 13-count charge of alleged £2.6 billion fraud.

The four Directors, Abayomi Kukoyi (trading under the name and style of Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates), Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze and Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze, were earlier on February 13, 2020, arraigned by the anti- graft agency on a sevencount charge bordering on the alleged offence. The defendants’ trial subsequently resumed after they all pleaded not guilty to the amended charge.

Two witnesses were called by the EFCC yesterday to prove its case against the defendants. Testifying in the matter, a former Minister of Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, narrated how one Isaac Okpala, wrote her ministry seeking for a mandate for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay £2.6 billion to the firm. According to her, such a request was strange to the Ministry of Finance because the extant law which would have made issuing such a mandate to the CBN mandatory has been repealed. She added there was even no need for the Ministry of Finance to issue any mandate to the CBN because the money in question is not public fund.

She said: “In February 2007, a letter came to the office of the Minister of Finance dated 5th February, 2007, by Isaac Okpala. In the letter, he was asking for mandate to be issued to the CBN to pay £2.6 billion to the firm. “A letter dated 5th March, 2007, was sent to the CBN in response to Okpala’s letter wherein the Ministry of Finance stated its position on the matter. In it, it was stated that the extant law requesting such mandate has been repealed.

Besides, there was no need for the Ministry of Finance to issue any mandate to the CBN because it is not public fund.” The second witness, Ojetunde Oluwaseyi, a principal state counsel at the Federal Ministry of Finance, told the court that there was a correspondence from the CBN that it had no £2.6 billion in its coffers contrary to the impression created by the defendants that the money is with the apex bank.

 

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