£2.6bn fraud: FG opposes Petro Union, directors’ no-case submission

The Federal Government has urged Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss the no-case application filed by Petro Union, three of its directors and a consultant who are currently standing trial for alleged £2.6bn fraud.

Federal Government’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), made the plea on Monday while adopting his written address in opposition to the application by the defendants during the virtual hearing of the case on Tuesday.

 The defendants are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on  13 counts bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretences, attempt to steal and forgery.

Following the closure of the prosecution’s case, they had, through their lawyers, argued that none of the 13 witnesses called by the prosecution established any case of fraud against them.

While opposing the application, Jacobs insisted that the prosecution had, through its witnesses, established a prima facie case of fraud against the defendants.

He argued that all investigations by Union Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bankers’ Committee and the EFCC confirmed that the defendants were engaged in fraudulent activities.

Jacobs stated, “We have proved the ingredients of those offences beyond any reasonable doubt and each of the defendants should be invited to present their defence to the charge if they have any.

“The defendants knew the truth but are insisting that the Federal Government should pay them £2.1bn. It is our common inheritance that they want to take away. This is a clear case of fraud, and no person with heaven in mind should pursue this case or assist anyone to do so.

“The judgment against the Federal Government is now almost £30bn with interest from 1994. We investigated the issuance of this cheque with our overseas partners, and it was revealed that the late Chief Okpala set up the company, Gazeaft Limited with a share capital of £100 which opened a Barclays Bank account. He was the one who gave the various payment instructions to the third parties and not any foreign investor. He was also the one who signed the cheque leaf for £2.6bn in the name of Petro Union as the forensic expert called by the Federal Government established before this Court.

“The account, upon which the cheque was drawn, has been closed since 1989, whereas the cheque was issued in 1994 – five years after the account was closed and the company dissolved at the Companies House in the United Kingdom.”

He, therefore, urged the judge to dismiss the no-case submission by the defendants.

Earlier, the defence counsel, Chief JK Gadzama (SAN) and Bashir Ramoni, urged the court to dismiss the charges against his clients and set them free.

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