Attempted $4m fraud: Briton insists Obasanjo’s in-law forged document

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Chief Olusegin Obasanjo
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By Moji Eniola

Ikeja –  Ms Charlene Cross, a British Solicitor, on Wednesday at the ongoing fraud trial of John Abebe insisted that the brother to the late Mrs Stella Obasanjo, a former First Lady of Nigeria, forged parts of an oil contract.

Cross reiterated that parts of an Net Profit Interest Agreement (NPIA) was forged during the continuation of her cross-examination at an Ikeja High Court.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Cross and Paul Piche, a Norwegian and the Country Manager of Equinor, Turkey had arrived in the country and had testified as prosecution witnesses for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Oct. 23.

Cross is the in-house lawyer and Assistant General Manager Dispute Resolution Projects for BP Exploration in London.

Cross while being cross-examined by Mr E. D Onyeke, a member of Abebe’s defence team, said she was in court to represent the position of BP Exploration London that the document referred to in court as Annexure Two was forged.

“I’m not aware that Annexure two and Annexure three were signed in London.

“It makes no sense how BP would put together that clause in Annexure Two,” Cross said.

She told the court that during EFCC investigations into the alleged forgery that she was never requested by the anti-graft agency to obtain statements from other staff members of BP.

Cross in her testimony, acknowledged the role Abebe played in bringing BP Exploration to Nigeria.

“The position of BP London was for me to address the EFCC directly, BP Nigeria as at the time of the NPIA was a Nigerian company.

“I’m aware that prior to 1999, BP was not allowed to conduct business in Nigeria, I’m aware the defendant provided assistance for BP Exploration to conduct business in Nigeria after they had left in 1976.

“The defendant helped provide two oil mining leases for BP and their mining partners Statoil and I’m aware that production subsequently occurred.

“The defending was entitled to 1.5 percent of the profits from production during the time the NPIA was in force,” she said.

Cross had denied that BP and Statoil were claiming the Annexure Two was forged to avoid the financial obligations placed on them by Nigerian courts in suits filed by Abebe against the companies.

NAN also reports that Abebe is facing a four-count charge of forgery, fabricating evidence, using fabricated evidence and attempt to pervert the cause of justice at an Ikeja Special Offences Court in Lagos.

He, however, denied the charges slammed on him by the EFCC.

According to Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC prosecutor, Abebe committed the offences on June 22, 2010 in Lagos.

“Abebe knowingly forged BP Exploration Nigeria Ltd’s letter dated Nov. 30,1995 to Inducon (Nigeria) Ltd.

“He committed the forgery by inserting in page two of the said letter the following words: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the NPIA. The $4million buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of oil in any of our fields.

“He purported same to have been issued by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited,” the EFCC prosecutor said.

The prosecution claims that the defendant used the allegedly forged letter as evidence in suit No. FHC/L/CS/224/2010 between Abebe, Inducon Nigeria Ltd and Statoil Nigeria Ltd. at the Federal High Court.

The evidence was admitted and marked exhibit BB in the suit.

According to the EFCC, the defendant through his actions attempted to pervert the course of justice.

The offences violated Sections 120(1), 120(2), 126(2) of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation 2003.

The case was adjourned until Nov. 19, Nov. 20, Nov.22 and Dec. 3 for continuation of trial. (NAN)

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