Oil firm directors arraigned, remanded for £2.6bn fraud

Justice Mohammed Liman of a Federal High Court in 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 alleged £2.6 billion fraud.

The order was sequel to the arraignment of the Directors alongside a firm, Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited, on a seven-count charge bordering on the alleged offence by the anti-graft agency.

Upon their arraignment, 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, denied the alleged offence.

Afterwards, EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) sought for a trial date as well as a separate date for the hearing of the defendants’ bail motion.

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 19th February for trial and hearing of the defendants’ bail motion. He also directed that the defendants should be remanded in EFCC’s custody.

Some of the counts against the defendants read as thus:

“That you, Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited, Prince Isaac Okpala (now deceased), Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze and Princess Gladys Okpalaeze (now at large) on or about 29th December, 1994, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, fraudulently procured a Barclays Bank cheque dated 29th December, 1994 in the sum of £2,556,000,000 made payable to Gladstone Kukoyi and Associates, purporting the said cheque to be meant for foreign investment in the construction of three refineries and petrochemical complex in Nigeria, when you knew the said cheque to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(2) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and punishable under same Section.

“That you, Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited, Prince Isaac Okpala (now deceased), Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze and Princess Gladys Okpalaeze (now at large), on or about the 10th April, 2007 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud, forged a certain document to wit: statement of account in the name of Goldmatic Limited, purportedly issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria with Account Number: 10382175 wherein you falsely claimed that the Central Bank had in its custody, the sum of £2,159,221,313.54 in favour of Goldmatic Limited and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 467 (2) (I) of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same Section”.

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