By Innocent Anaba
A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, has dismissed a two-count charge of stealing and fraud instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against an independent oil marketer, Mr. Anthony Adejugbe, and his company, Tonique Oil Services Limited.
In dismissing the charge, the trial judge, Justice Lateefat Okunnu, held that the prosecution did not bring substantial evidence to prove its case against the defendants.
EFCC had on November 13, 2012, arraigned Adejugbe and his company before the court.
The commission had in the charge alleged that the defendants fraudulently obtained N273 million from a company, Watergate Petroleum and Gas Limited, under false pretence of supplying the company five million litres of petroleum.
However, during trial EFCC called five witnesses and tendered some documents as exhibits, while Adejugbe and Tonique Oil Services Limited equally called five witnesses and also tendered several documents.
Justice Okunnu, in dismissing the charge against Adejugbe and his company, said: “There is, therefore, reasonable doubt regarding the case of prosecution that the payment in question was intended by the defendants for use in paying off part of the second defendant’s loan.
“In the event and by reason of all the foregoing, it is my findings that this is neither a case of stealing nor one of obtaining by false pretence.”
Reviewing the facts of the case as presented by parties before the court, Justice Okunnu said: “Given the inability of the prosecution to prove the requisite standard, its assertion that the money the defendants paid was for the purpose of settling the second defendant’s liability to the bank cannot be firmly established.”