In a matter currently before a Lagos High Court, two persons alleged to be fraudsters have been accused of obtaining the sum of N1.8 billion from Sterling Bank Plc customers under false pretences.
The two accused persons identified as Messrs Ogbor Kehinde Eliot and Kelvin Ejere Chris, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice O. A. Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
They were taken to court on a five-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery and obtaining by false pretence.
The defendants, who were charged alongside a company, Danium Energy Services Limited, were alleged to have fraudulently deceived Sterling Bank Plc into lending them money through a fraudulent scheme under the pretence of financing local purchase of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), otherwise known as diesel, for supply to Total Nigeria Limited.
The first defendant, Eliot, an alleged serial fraudster, allegedly used his company, Danium Energy Services Limited, to obtain the facility from the bank and was said to have defaulted in repayment, which was expected from the proceeds of sales of the petroleum products by Sterling Bank.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Ogbor Kehinde Eliot, Kelvin Ejere Chris and Danium Energy Services Ltd., sometime in February, 2016 in Lagos within the Lagos Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to obtain the sum of N1.821 billion by false pretence from Sterling Bank Plc.”
Another count reads: “That you, Ogbor Kehinde Eliot, Kelvin Ejere Chris and Danium Energy Services Ltd, on or about 23rd of February, 2016 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, induced Sterling Bank Plc to deliver to Danium Energy Services Ltd the total sum of N1.821 billion under the false pretence that Total Nigeria Plc. vide Purchase Orders (PO) with Reference No. OPS/SUP/02/16/330 and OPS/SUP/02/331 dated 3rd of February, 2016 contracted Danium Energy Services Ltd to supply 20,000 metric tons of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) in two tranches of 10,000 metric tons each valued at the aggregate sum of N2.328 billion and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.”
However, both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them. In view of their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Idris Mohammad, asked the court for a trial date.
However, counsel to the first and third defendants, Ladi Williams (SAN), as well as counsel for the second defendant, Dennis Omorojo, informed the court of applications for bail on behalf of their clients.
After listening to both parties, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo asked the prosecution counsel why he did not oppose the bail applications. In his response, Mohammad told the court that he intentionally did not oppose the applications so as to allow the first defendant to attend his trials in other courts.
Justice Taiwo then stood the matter down for ruling on the bail applications.
In her ruling a few hours after, Justice Taiwo granted the defendants bail in the sum of N10 million each with two sureties each in like sum, adding that the sureties must be civil servant on Grade level 16. She added that they must provide known addresses, which must be verified by the court.
The sureties are also expected to also deposit with the court’s Registrar their Permanent Voters Cards, National Identity Card or International Passports.
The Judge ordered the defendants to be remanded in the EFCC custody pending the perfection of their bail conditions.
However, the prosecution counsel prayed the court not to remand the defendants in the EFCC custody, stating that the EFCC custody was congested and, therefore, would not be able to accommodate them.