N102m Oil Fraud: Oil Magnate, Owoicho Loses Bid To Quash Charge

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Justice Peter Affen of the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, has ordered Emmanuel Owoicho, Managing Director, Owoema Resources Limited, to enter his defence in respect of an alleged oil fraud to the tune of N102million preferred against him and two other oil merchants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The judge gave the order on Thursday, April 26, 2018 while ruling on a no-case submission by F. R. Onoja on behalf of Owoicho.
Onoja, in the no-case submission invited the court to strike out the case against his client for ‘failure of the prosecution to establish the essential ingredients of the alleged offence’.
Owoicho is facing a 12-count charge of conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence alongside Michael Morowei Oghenemi, Managing Director, Standard Allied Universal Concept Limited and Bartholomew Taye, Managing Director, Unique Energy Distribution Systems.
The defendants allegedly conspired to sell a consignment of Bonny Light crude oil purportedly from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to Bascom Energy Limited to the tune of N102million.
They also allegedly collected money to the tune of N115million at various times, for the crude oil which was never supplied.
In proof of the case which started on February 15, 2015, the prosecution has so far called 16 witnesses and tendered documents before closing its case on February 1, 2018, setting the stage for the defendants to open their defence.
When the case came up on March 19, Onoja, counsel representing the first and second defendants asked for an adjournment over what he called his ‘inability to have filed the defendants’ no-case submission on time’.
While counsel to the third and fourth defendant, Igwe Judith, raised no objection to the application, counsel to the fifth and sixth defendants, U. C. Ikegbule expressed readiness to go for defence.
The case was consequently adjourned.
At the resumed hearing today, Onoja informed the court of a no-case submission filed on behalf of his clients and adopted the argument contained therein.
He urged the court to strike out the case in its entirety on the grounds that ‘there was no nexus between the defendants and the alleged offence’.
Responding, Silvanus Tahir, counsel to the EFCC, told the court that the prosecution had established a prima facie to warrant explanations by the defendants.
He urged the court to order the defendants to enter their defence.
“The prosecution filed a composite written address dated April 23, 2018 and filed April 24, 2018. Our argument is contained in the 27 page written address, which we wish to adopt as our argument.
“We pray the court to order the defendants to enter their defence. It is our submission that the prosecution has made a prima-facie case against the defndants”, Tahir submitted.
After listening to the submissions from both sides, Justice Affen held that a prima-facie case warranting explanation from the defendants had been established.
“I have carefully and instantly considered the no-case submission made on behalf of the first, second, third and fourth defendants vis-à-vis the evidence made in this proceeding and I take the considered view that prima-facie case warranting explanation from the defendants has been made out.
“I accordingly record an order dismissing a no-case submission on behalf of the defendants”, the judge ruled.
The case has been adjourned to June 28, 2018 for defence.

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