The trial of the duo of Ogbor Eliot and Kelvin Chris for an alleged N1.8 billion fraud before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos continued on Friday, August 5, 2022 with the trial judge adjourning till September 13, 2022 for judgement after the prosecution and the defence adopted their final written addresses.
The Lagos Zonal Command of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had on Monday, October 22, 2018, arraigned them on a five-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N1.8 billion.
They were charged alongside a company, Danium Energy Services Limited, which they are accused to have used to fraudulently deceive Sterling Bank Plc into lending them money through a fraudulent scheme with the pretence to finance Local Purchase Order, LPO for 20,000 Metric Tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, for supply to Total Nigeria Limited.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Ogbor Kehinde Eliot, Kelvin Ejere Chris and Danium Energy Services Ltd., sometime in February 2016 in Lagos within the Lagos Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to obtain the sum of N1,820,496,000.00 (One Billion, Eight Hundred and Twenty Million, Four Hundred and Ninety-Six Thousand Naira) by false pretence from Sterling Bank Plc.”
Another count reads: “That you, Ogbor Kehinde Eliot, Kelvin Ejere Chris and Danium Energy Services Ltd, on or about 23rd of February 2016 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, induced Sterling Bank Plc to deliver to Danium Energy Services Ltd the total sum of N1,820,496,000.00 (One Billion, Eight Thousand and Twenty Million, Four Hundred and Ninety-Six Thousand Naira) under the false pretence that Total Nigeria Plc vide Purchase Orders (PO) with Reference No. OPS/SUP/02/16/330 and OPS/SUP/02/331 dated 3rd of February, 2016 contracted Danium Energy Services Ltd to supply 20,000 metric tons of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) in two tranches of 10,000 metric tons each valued at the aggregate sum of N2,328,000,000.00 (Two Billion, Three Hundred and Twenty-Eight Million Naira) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were arraigned.
At Friday’s proceeding, both the counsel for the first, second and third defendants adopted their various final written addresses and unanimously prayed the court to discharge and acquit their respective clients, as they urged the court to hold that the prosecution has not proven the case against them.
Adopting the prosecution’s final written address in response to those of the defence, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the arguments of the defence as lacking in merit and to convict them as charged.
“The case against the defendants before your lordship is such that it is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf,” he said.
Oyedepo further urged the court to take cognisance of the fact that the defendants created an impression that Total Nigeria Plc issued to the defendants local purchase order reference numbers 330 and 331 for the supply of AGO.
He said: “These two local purchase orders, gave the impression that Total Nigeria Plc contracted the third defendant to supply to it 10,000 metric tons per each of those LPOs for a particular sum.
“And so, the third defendant, armed with these LPOs, contracted Sterling Bank Plc to finance the purported documents emanating from Total.”
He further noted that the first defendant, was shown by the prosecution is the alter ego of the third defendant.
He further added in order to effectively perpetrate the alleged fraud the defendants further forged other documents to deceive the bank into facilitating the said LPOs.
He added that in the course of proving its case, the prosecution was able to show documents, in which Total Nigeria Plc refuted that the said LPOs emanated from it.
“The prosecution has shown to my lord the LPOs that were forged, and the original of the documents which Total said that the referenced documents in contention were not issued to the third defendant, ” he said.
He therefore urged the court to hold that the prosecution effectively proved the case of conspiracy, forgery, and obtaining by false pretence.
After listening to all the parties, Justice Taiwo adjourned the matter till September 13, 2020 “for judgement”.