Charges Against Four Persons in the Subsidy Trial Dropped



  A Lagos Federal High Court has struck out a criminal suits filed a against four persons alleged of conspiracy and fraud relating to petroleum subsidy payment worth over N2billion. This development was followed by the withdrawal of charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against the four suspects. The suspects were Integrated Resources Limited, Durosola Omogbenigun, Pinnacle Oil and Gas and Peter Mba. The anti-graft agency noted that the charges filed against the Oil firms were misconstrued and filed by mistake. EFCC said it found after a review that they did not commit the offence for which they were to be arraigned. Its counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said he was instructed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) to withdraw the case. His words: “We have an information (charge) dated July 20 before this court. “I have the instruction of the Attorney-General to withdraw this information. “The information has not been served on the defence. I urge the court to strike out the charge.” In an application dated July 26, brought pursuant to Section 73 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2007, EFCC sought an order granting it leave to withdraw the criminal charge “against all the defendants.” In a supporting affidavit, the agency said the prosecution could not attend court last Thursday “for the single reason that the hearing notice was received late on July 25.”
It said since the prosecution had other prefixed matters coming up before Justice Habit Abiru and Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, coupled with the traffic situation in Lagos, it became impossible for the prosecuting team to attend court.

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EFCC added: “The charges preferred against the defendants in this case were misconstrued by the prosecution and were inadvertently filed against the said defendants. “A review of the prosecution’s case and the evidence available to the prosecution clearly show that the defendants did not commit the offences for which they are charged. “The complainant/applicant in consideration of the above fact has decided to withdraw the criminal charge before this court against the defendant and substitute it with an information  filed at the registry of this Honourable Court. “Withdrawing the charge against the defendants will meet the interest of justice in the case.”
Justice Candide-Johnson ordered as prayed. “At the instance of the prosecution, the information having been withdrawn is struck out,” he said. The four were charged with four counts of conspiracy to obtain and obtaining property by false pretense. The EFCC said its withdrawal of the charges was deliberate. A statement by the agency’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said the suspects have not been let completely off the hook. The statement read: “The withdrawal of the charges was deliberate. “In the face of fresh evidence, the commission felt the need to firm up the charges.”



Osaro Agho


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