Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos High Court on Wednesday August 1, 2012 ruled that Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, one of the suspects implicated in the multi-billion naira fuel subsidy fraud, be remanded in prison custody and ordered accelerated hearing of the case. The judge dismissed Ogunbambo’s bail application on the grounds of his criminal antecedent, which cast serious doubt on the chances of his being available for trial if granted bail.
Ogunbambo was arraigned on Monday July 30, 2012 alongside Habila Theck and Fargo Petroleum Gas Limited on a 6 counts charge for conspiring to obtain the sum of N976, 653,110.28 (nine hundred and seventy six million six hundred and fifty three thousand one hundred and ten naira twenty eight kobo) from the federal government of Nigeria by falsely representing that the said sum was accrued subsidy for the importation of 13,627,084 litres of petroleum motor spirit. They were also accused of forgery and use of false document contrary to section 364 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria.
Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs opposed the bail application on the grounds that Ogunbambo had multiple identities and, was caught with cash in Dublin, Ireland. He also allegedly forged document to defraud Stanbic IBTC Bank of N660 million. Rotimi further told the court that the accuse passport was seized but jumped administrative bail afterwards. He said though EFCC had his passport, he went ahead to procure another passport with different name.
He said even if the accused was asked to deposit his passport as canvassed by his lawyer it will not serve any deterrent purpose as he would go and procure another one.
After listening to the argument of counsel, Justice Onigbanjo ruled that the accused be remanded in Ikoyi prison, He however granted bail to Habila Theck in the sum of N20 million and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties should be a level 14 officer while the other should be a top manager in a quoted company with evidence of tax payment for the last three years. He is also to deposit his international passport with EFCC while the residential and business address of the sureties should be verified by an EFCC official.
In a related development Justice Onigbanjo varied the bail condition earlier handed to Christian Taylor, one of those arraigned for their alleged involvement in the petroleum subsidy scam. One of his bail conditions was that one of the sureties should be a blood relation. However, his counsel, Kolade Obafemi approached the court with the information that the defendant was a Sierra Leonean and therefore found it difficult to meet the bail term. He informed the court that Mrs. Mariam Ali, mother of Mamman Nasir Ali, 1st defendant in the case and a senior special assistant to the president was ready to take him on bail.
The judge consequently ruled that a responsible Nigeria can take Taylor on bail in so far as he would ensure he is available for trial.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
1st August, 2012