Court dismisses N1.7bn subsidy fraud charge against marketer

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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday upheld a no-case submission by an oil marketer, Samuel Owa, and three others charged with N1.7bn fuel subsidy fraud.

Justice Ibrahim Buba dismissed the four counts preferred against Owa and a cargo surveyor, Oassisi Wajutom, and their companies, Stone Bridge Oil Ltd. and Vibrant Ventures Ltd.

The judge upheld the submission of the Defence Counsel, Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN), who said the prosecution could not prove the allegations against the accused.

Buba held that there were no relevant documents before the court to substantiate the claim of the prosecution – the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force.

He held that the prosecution failed to establish its case beyond reasonable doubts.

Nwobike made the no-case submission on March 5.

He said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubts that the accused forged documents to defraud the Federal Government in the guise of importing petrol.

Nwobike submitted that his clients had no case to answer since the evidence by prosecution witnesses confirmed that they brought petroleum products into Nigeria.

He had prayed the court to dismiss the charge.

Owa and the others were arraigned on June 18, 2013, and were granted bail in the sum of N500m with two sureties each.

The prosecution opened its case on June 20, 2013, and called a total of five witnesses from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Department of Petroleum Resources and the SFU.

It closed its case on Feb. 21.

The SFU accused Owa and his company of fraudulently obtaining N1.7bn from the Federal Government in the pretext of importing and discharging 145,000 metric tonnes of petrol.

It alleged that Wajutom and Vibrant Ventures aided Owa and his company to obtain the money.

The prosecution had claimed that Owa and the others contravened the Provisions of Section 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, Cap. A6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

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