By Chimezie Godfrey
The trial of Abubakar Ali Peters and his company, Nadabo Energy Limited, over a 21-count charge bordering on forgery and subsidy fraud before Justice S.S. Ogunsanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos continued on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, presenting two more witnesses to prove its case.
In a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, the Head , Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren stressed that Abubakar and his company are being prosecuted by the EFCC for offences bordering on obtaining money under false pretence, diversion of Federal Government funds and forgery to the tune of N761,628,993.84.
One of the counts reads: “Nadabo Energy Limited and Abubakar Ali Peters, on or about 26th day of September, 2011 in Lagos, within the Ikeja judicial division , fraudulently obtained the sum of N761,628,993.84 from the Federal Government by falsely representing that the sum represented the subsidy accrued to Nadabo Energy Limited under the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation of 16,808,064 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which Nadabo Energy Limited purported to have purchased from Delano Petroleum Corporation Akara Tortola British Virgin Island, and transported the 16,808,064 litres through MT Gotland Carolina (mother vessel) and MT Sonia (daughter vessel) to Nigeria, whereas Nadabo Energy Limited only imported 7,953,962 litres of PMS from Delany Petroleum Corporation Akara Tortola British Virgin Island and transported 7,953,962 litres of PMS through MT Gotland Carolina (mother vessel) and MT Songa (daughter vessel) to Nigeria.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when he was arraigned on October 7, 2015, thereby prompting the commencement of his trial.
The Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who testified as the second prosecution witness, had on Monday, May 9, 2022 concluded his testimony during which he reasserted that the investigation into the alleged fraud, including documents from banks, Staco Insurance Plc, and Q & Q Control Services Limited among others, indicated that the defendant supplied about 6,000 MT (about 7,953,962 litres) of PMS and not 12,000 MT (about 16,808,064 litres) as claimed by the defendant for which he claimed payment from the Federal Government.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, S.K. Atteh, Tunji Nasiru, a staff of Staco Insurance Plc, who at the time of the said transaction was the Assistant Director, Technical, testifying as the third prosecution witness, told the court that he knew Nadabo Energy Limited in the course of his work at the company.
He said: “In 2013, we received a letter dated 20th August from the EFCC requesting us to confirm the authenticity of two Marine Insurance certificates attached to the letter.
“We went through our records and we responded to the letter, vide ours dated 6th September, stating that we had no such certificate in our records.”
He thereafter, identified the investigation letter written by the EFCC to Staco Insurance Plc, and the response to the EFCC inquiry on Marine Insurance certificates attached, which were already exhibits before the court.
“We stated that we do not have such Marine Insurance certificate in our records,” he said.
He testified that indeed, Staco Insurance Plc had done some transactions before for Nadabo Energy Limited, adding that, “this particular one, was not in our record”.
While going through the exhibits, he said, “The letter written by the EFCC is the one dated 20th August 2013, which is the first document.
“The second document, we know nothing about it, which is the Insurance certificate number 40016.
“The third document, also an Insurance Marine certificate number 40017 is not in our records.
“The fourth document is our reply to the third document, which was the EFCC letter.
“The fifth document, I can recognise this very well, this is what we have in our record as Marine Insurance certificate 40017.”
He further identified the certificates attached by the EFCC, which the company was asked to authenticate.
He said: “Our response was that we do not have these certificates in our record.
“In other words, the certificates were not issued by us.”
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, E.O. Isiramen, the witness, confirmed that he had never met Abubakar, the second defendant, but only had dealings with the company, Nadabo Energy Limited, the first defendant.
“The Marine Insurance certificate number 40017 is the original one that we have in our record and I can tell you the details contained therein,” he said, stressing that the content of the Marine Insurance certificate number 40017 sent to the company by the EFCC for authentication was far different in content from the one in the company’s record.
“Moreover, the Marine Insurance certificate number 40016 is not in our record,” he stressed.
Testifying as the fourth prosecution witness, Matthew Oladunjoye, a staff of Quality & Quantity, Q & Q Control Services Nigeria Limited, confirmed working with Nadabo Energy Limited with respect to the case.
In his examination-in-chief, he testified that the company received more than one letter from the EFCC and that the company responded to all of them.
He identified the letters, which were already before the court as exhibits, adding that the EFCC wrote to the company with regards to MT Songa, which he described as the daughter vessel, that covered the loading, and also MT Gotland Carolina, which he described as the mother vessel that carried out Ship-to-Ship, STS with MT Songa.
“We covered the operation between the transfer between the mother vessel and the daughter vessel,” he said.
He testified further that the EFCC had requested the company to authenticate some documents relating to the transaction.
“We checked and verified and sent to EFCC those which are true copies from our company, and those not true copies were also identified and sent back to the EFCC,” he said.
He further identified the documents certified by the company to be true copies, and those which he said did not emanate from Q & Q Control Services Limited, yet had a stamp and signature which did not belong to the company.
He said: “My lord, in summary, the quantity discharged by Gotland Carolina is 7,986,355 litres and the quantity received by Songa is 7,983,150 litres.
“They claimed to have discharged 16,808,054 litres as quantity discharged at Masters Energy by Songa, but based on the figures that we have at the STS point, the figure is higher than what is stated in our documents.”
The case has been adjourned till July 6 and 7, 2022 for continuation of trial.