By Henry Ojelu
The trail of two oil marketers, Yusuf Kwande and Osahon Asemota and five companies before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja over allegation of N8.4 million fraud was Monday stalled due to the absence of all the defendants.
The five companies named in the charge are Trafigura Baheer BV, Trafigura PTE Ltd, Mettle Energy and Gas ltd, Renbrandt Ltd and JIL Engineering and Oil Services Ltd.
The are facing trial for allegedly defrauding Nigerian companies of 10,000 metric tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil worth N200 million.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, also alleged that the defendants stole about 6,425,271 metric tonnes of AGO worth $8,442,806.094, property of Nadabo Energy Ltd, which was under the legal custody of Spring Bank Plc.
According to the EFCC, the fraud forced Spring Bank, which financed the deal, into bankruptcy.
When the matter came up,yesterday, EFCC Prosecutor, Adebisi Adeniyi expressed shock that non of the defendants were in court as the commission had served them with the charges against them.
Adeniyi informed the court that the 3rd defendant, Yusuf Kwande jumped administrative bail and that efforts are on the way by the police to apprehend him.
Counsel to the 1st and 2nd defendants, Bode Olanipekun, SAN, however informed the court that his clients who are foreign firms were just recently served with the hearing notice by courier and could not make arrangement to attend the trial.
Olanipekun said he decided to appear before the court so as not to seem to be disrespecting the court.
“ My Lord, the 1st and 2nd defendants are foreign corporate firms. The charge was sent to them by courier and because they did not want to ignore the court, that is why they have briefed me to be in court,” he said.
Also stating why his client is absent in court, counsel to the 6th defendant, Mr. A. Aganmwonyi told the court that his client was rushed to the Lagos Teaching Hospital for a heart problem and has been placed on bed rest.
He presented a copy of his client’s medical report to court.
After listening to the reasons for absence of the defendants, Justice Dada adjourned the matter till November 5, 2018 for possible arraignment.