New Telegraph

$8.4m Fraud: Group Kicks Against AGF’s Takeover Of Defendants’ Prosecution

The Center Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV) in collaboration with Advocate for Social Justice and Defence of Rule of Law, has kicked against the alleged plan by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), to take over the prosecution of a case involving a foreign oil company and five others accused of $8.4 million fraud.

It would be recalled that the foreign oil firm, Trafigura Beheer BV Trafigura PTE Limited is facing trial alongside two oil marketers – Osahon Asemota and Yusuf Kwande, as well as Mettle Energy and Gas, Rembrandt Limited and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Limited.

The defendants have been facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen property proffered against them by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU) before Justice Mojisola Dada of a Lagos Special Offences Court in Ikeja for the past six years.

The PSFU specifically pointed accusing fingers at the foreign oil company alongside its four codefendants for stealing 6.4 metric tonnes of diesel oil worth $8.4 million belonging to Nadabo Energy Limited in October 2008. While the trial lasted, the prosecution called seventeen witnesses, with the defence so far calling four witnesses.

In a statement jointly signed by Gbenga Soloki and Niyi Adekanla, CAIDOV while reacting to the planned takeover of the case by the AGF noted that the trial had taken a puzzling turn when the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation, Mr M. A Abubakar by a letter dated February 29, 2024, announced the takeover of the prosecution of the matter by the office of the AGF.

According to the letter, the takeover of the prosecution of the case is in exercise of the AGF’s powers under Section 174(1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which provides: “to take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person. CAIDOV in its statement revealed that the AGF took over the prosecution of the case based on complaints made to his office, sequel to a letter dated November 17, 2023.

In insisting that the office of the AGF’s takeover of the prosecution of the criminal suit would result in more delays in the matter which has been in court for six years, the group noted that the same Section 174(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which empowers the AGF to take over prosecution of matters, also provides that, “in exercising his powers under this section, the Attorney General of the Federation shall have regard to the public interest, the interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process”.

It queried why other options as provided by the law which would not cause further delays in the case were not explored before the aggrieved parties in the suit resorted to writing to the Office of the AGF.

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