By Moji Eniola
Ikeja, – Absence of two oil marketers – Yusuf Kwande and Osahon Asemota – and five companies, on Monday stalled their arraignment before Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, over alleged $8.4 million fraud.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the five companies are Trafigura Beheer BV, Trafigura PTE Ltd., Mettle Energy and Gas Ltd., Renbrandt Ltd. and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd.
They are to face a three-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen property proffered against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr Adebisi Adeniyi, Counsel to the EFCC, told the court that all the defendants were absent in court in spite of being served court summons.
He said that Kwande, the third defendant, jumped the commission’s administrative bail.
“The third defendant (Kwande) is the alter ego of first and second defendants (Trafigura Beheer BV and Trafigura PTE Ltd.).
“He was granted administrative bail, and he jumped bail. It appears that he escaped out of the jurisdiction of this honourable court.
“The police is still thoroughly searching for the third defendant, and I hope that before the next adjourned date, the police would have been able to apprehend him,” Adeniyi said.
Mr Olabode Olanipekun (SAN), Counsel to Trafigura Beheer BV and Trafigura PTE Ltd., however, denied the claims of the EFCC.
He said: “The prosecution’s claim that the third defendant (Kwande) is the alter ego of the first and second defendants (Trafigura Beheer BV and Trafigura PTE Ltd.) is not correct.
“The third defendant has not been served as the alter ego of the first and second defendants, and the proof of evidence has no reflection of this.
“The first and second defendants are foreign corporate entities, and the charge was served on them outside Nigeria by courier; they responded because they did not want to ignore court processes, and I got their responses at 1.00a.m. yesterday.
“Section 357 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law would have been relevant if the other defendants were in court.
“If there are no proceedings today, it is not as a result of the fault of the first and second defendants,” Olanipekun said.
Counsel to the other defendants also told the court why their clients were absent.
Mr A. Aganmwonyi, Counsel to Asemota, Mettle Energy and Gas Ltd. and Renbrandt Ltd., said that Asemota was absent due to sickness.
“My client is the alter ego of the fourth and fifth defendants; he took ill over the weekend, and was admitted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
“He has a heart problem, and requires a three-day bed rest at LASUTH,” he said.
Aganmwonyi presented to the court, a copy of a medical report from the hospital as a proof of Asemota’s illness.
Mr A. F. Makun, Counsel to Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd., told the court that a representative of the company would be in court at the next adjourned date.
“The Managing Director of the seventh defendant (Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd.) is not in town.
“I believe by the next adjourned date, we will sort everything out,” he said.
The EFCC claims that the defendants committed the offences in 2008 in Lagos.
According to the charge sheet made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Kwande, Asemota, Trafigura PTE Ltd., Mettle Energy and Gas Ltd. and Renbrandt Ltd., committed the offences of stealing from Oct. 22, 2008, to Dec. 15, 2008.
The EFCC said that they fraudulently converted 6.4 million metric tonnes of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) at the office of Trafigura Beheer BV located at 20A Sinaro Daranijo St., off Ligali Ayorinde St., Victoria Island, Lagos.
The EFCC said that the stolen AGO is worth $8.4 million and belongs to Nadabo Energy Ltd.
It added that Jil Engineering and Oil Services Ltd. fraudulently received the stolen AGO, which had been in legal custody of Spring Bank on Victoria Island.
NAN reports that the alleged offences contravene Sections 383(1), 427 and 516 of the Criminal Code, 2004.
The case was adjourned until Nov. 5 for arraignment.