The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned two oil marketers, Yusuf Kwande and Osahon Asemota before the Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, for allegedly stealing 6.4m metrics tonnes of Automated Gas Oil belonging to Nadabo Energy Limited said to worth $8.4million.
The two men were docked by the anti-graft agency on three-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen property.
Kwande and Asemota were arraigned before Justice Mojisola Dada alongside five companies: Trafigura Beheer BV, Trafigura PTE Ltd, Mettle Energy and Gas, Renbrandt Ltd. and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Limited.
The EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) accused the defendants of fraudulently converting 6.4m metric tonnes of Automated Gas Oil at the office of Trafigura Beheer BV located at 20A Sinaro Daranijo Street, off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Jacobs also claimed that the stolen AGO worth $8,442,806.094, was the property of Nadabo Energy Limited kept in the legal custody of Spring Bank Plc, on Victoria Island.
The lawyer further informed Justice Dada that the defendants committed the offences of stealing from October 22, 2008 to December 15, 2008, adding that they acted contrary to sections 383(1), 427 and 516 of the Criminal Code, 2004.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
After their plea were taken, Jacobs called the first prosecution witness, Emefun Etudo.
Etudo, a former counsel to Asemota and his companies explained to the court how the defendants connived to defraud Nadabo.
The witness claimed that, “Nadabo Energy is a contractor to Mobil and it was given a purchase order to supply 10,000 metrics tonnes of AGO to Mobil in 2008. Nadabo was given about $15million by Spring Bank via a letter of offer dated February 29, 2008, to effect this transaction.
“At that time, Nadabo has licence to import 4,000 metrics tonnes and could not import this transaction with the licence so Nadabo called the sixth defendant (Osahon Asemota), to assist him because he has a tank farm at Apapa and licence.
“They made an agreement dated March 31, 2008, and part of the agreement stated that the supply shall be made on behalf of Nadabo and all finances for the execution of the agreement shall be transferred by Nadabo to the agent. Nadabo transferred the money in obedience to the agreement he had with the seventh defendant (Jil engineering and oil service limited). Transfer was made both in naira and dollars.
“There was never a time, Nadabo and Mettle Energy and Gas, Renbrandt Limited and Osahon Asemota agreed for the defendants to tamper the Nadabo cargo and there was never a time Mettle Energy and Gas, Renbrandt Limited and Osahon Asemota demanded for money from the complainant (Nadabo) and he denied them in line with the MOU.
“There was a twist after money was transferred to Trafigura in abroad, Mettle Energy and Gas, Renbrandt Limited and Osahon Asemota informed Nadabo that Mobil rejected the supply. They further told Nadabo that Mobil accepted 3,000 out of the 10,000 metrics tonnes.
“The bank and Nadabo believed this and that was what we were made to believe until a case came up at Justice Ogunsanya’s court and that was when we knew that the supply was not rejected by Mobil but was stolen by the defendants and sold to who they want and shared the money.
“Out of this disaster, the bank went down, EFCC was our first place of action and Trafigura was invited in a petition but the person that responded was Yusuf Kwande and he made statement to the EFCC.
“The account officers of the accounts of Osahon Asemota and Jil engineering and oil service limited at Spring Bank were also invited and he made statement. There was never a time that Mobil gave permission that cargo should be returned to them under the transaction. They never rejected any cargo and no cargo was contaminated against the claim that was presented to Nadabo that a 7,000 metrics tons that was supplied was kicked out by Mobil.
“There was a letter written by Mobil in 2009 and it was discovered that the discharge continue till November 8 against the false alarm raised by Asemota via a letter to Traffigura that the cargo was contaminated and Mobil kicked them out on November 5.
“I investigated all the vessels that took part in the operation in 2008. The first vessels and most important is the vessel that took cargo from Cotonou to Eket and I discovered that the capacity of the vessel is 7,000 metrics. I investigated another vessel owned by the 5th defendant and I discovered that the vessel is a slug vessel which is not supposed to be used to carry cargo.
“I saw that the two cargos never went to Mobil depot in Eket, Asemota intercepted the vessel, collected 3,000 metrics tonnes from the vessel,” the witness stated.
Earlier, the defence lawyers have told the court that they have filed separate bail applications on behalf of their clients and they sought to move the applications.
In arguing his bail application, counsel to the 3rd defendant (Kwande), Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), urged the court to grant him bail in most liberal term but the prosecutor opposed the bail.
In her ruling, Justice Dada held that the factors before the court are in favour of the third defendant and thereafter admitted him to bail in the sum of N2million with two substantial sureties in like sum.
The judge also held that one of the sureties must be a landed property owner and of which they are to submit their title documents to the court and the defendant should deposit his passport to the prosecution.
She further released the defendant to the custody of his counsel, Prof. Osipitan (SAN) pending the perfection of the bail application.
Counsel to the sixth defendant, Osahon Idemude, also urged the court to grant his client bail on reasonable term but Jacobs opposed the application on the ground that the defendant failed to submit himself willingly for arraignment.
He added that while the defendant claimed that he was sick, he was granting press conference denying the charges against him.
Justice Dada upheld the objection of the prosecution and ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison.
The trial judge adjourned the matter till December 10 for continuation of trial.
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