Alleged N43.5m Fraud: Accused NOGASA Boss Reads Defence From Prepared Script, EFCC Tells Court

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Alleged N43.5m Fraud: Accused NOGASA Boss Reads Defence From Prepared Script, EFCC Tells Court

•As Fatuyi Philips claims being defrauded by one Olumide Adegbite

The Chairman of the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), Fatuyi Yemi Philips, on Friday, June 16, 2023, began his defence before Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Philips is answering questions to a two-count charge bordering on obtaining money by false pretence to the tune of N43,502,000.00 as slammed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Speaking while being led in evidence by his counsel, Olanrewaju Ajanaku, the defendant stated that he gave one Olumide Adegbite the sum of $100,000 for exchange because the latter had informed him that he had connections with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and could help in accessing preferential exchange rate.

Drama, however, ensued when the prosecution lawyer, O. S Owede, raised an objection and informed Justice Dada that the NOGASA boss was reading from a prepared script.

The paper, from where Philips had drafted account numbers and figures, was then shown to the presiding judge who thereafter allowed the defendant to continue with its usage.

After two hours of Philips’ testimony, the defence team stopped its defence and Justice Dada adjourned the matter until October 10 and 12, 2023 for continuation of defence.

It would be recalled that the absence of Ajanaku, counsel to the NOGASA helmsman, had at the last hearing of the matter stalled the case from continuing.

Before this time, the anti-graft agency had, after presenting its fifth and last witness on March 30, 2023, closed its case and the same was adjourned for defence.

The NOGASA boss, who was first arraigned on April 7, 2022, is standing trial alongside Oceanview Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited.

Count one reads: “Fatuyi Yemi Philips and Oceanview Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, on or about the 28th day of September 2016 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the aggregate sum of N43, 502,000.00 from Elochukwu Okoye and Elebana Unique Ventures Nigeria Limited on behalf of WAPCIL Nigeria Limited under the false representation that you would sell to WAPCIL Nigeria Limited $98,870.00, a representation you knew to be false”.

Count two reads: “Fatuyi Yemi Philips and Oceanview Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, on or about the 28th day of September 2016 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, stole the sum of N43, 502,000.00, property of WAPCIL Nigeria Limited”.

But he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

While being led in evidence by counsel for the EFCC, O. S Owede, the prosecution’s last witness, who is a Bureau De Change operator, Musa Mohammed, narrated how he got to know the defendant and the business transaction that they engaged in.

The witness had particularly informed the court as to how sometime in September 2016, the defendant met him and gave him $40,000 cash to help him change.

However, during the last proceedings on the criminal charge, there was no representation for the defendant, as the counsel for the prosecution informed the court that his attention was called to a letter sent by the defence counsel, Ajanaku, as to the prior notification that he would not be present in court.

According to Owede, “This morning, my attention was drawn to a letter from the defence counsel that he would not be in court, today”.

The anti-graft agency’s lawyer, however, observed that he saw the defence counsel fully robed in the court, “yet he claimed that he has not been to the office this week”.

Owede added, “My lord, to further amplify his mischief, he refused to suggest a date and the reason is not far-fetched, it is so that when we take a date, he’ll say oh it’s not convenient, but we’ll reluctantly oblige him”.