Arraignment of Access Bank CEO, Others in Court Stalled

The arraignment of Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe and eight others by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of Nigeria Police over alleged $6.3 million fraud at a Lagos High Court in Ikeja was stalled on Thursday due to the absence of some the defendants.

Mr Wigwe is standing trial alongside Cast Oil and Gas Limited, Seyi Sanni, Adekunle Adebayo, Access Bank Plc, Titi Oshontoki, Chinyere Bishop-Adigwe, Sunny Amos Affiong and Augusta Energy Nigeria Limited for allegedly defrauding former Petroleum Minister, Chief Don Etiebet through his company Top Oil and Gas Development Limited.

They are facing a four- count charge offence brought against them by the SFU before Justice Hakem Oshodi.

The SFU, in the charge, alleged the defendants and Augusta Energy of Geneva Switzerland (still at large) between January and December 2015, in Lagos, fraudulently induced Top Oil and Gas Development Limited, to invest about $6.3m in the supply of a 10,000 metric tonnes of Automative Gas Oil, Ago.

The police alleged the defendants converted the AGO to personal use and benefits after taking delivery of the petroleum product.

The charge reads in part : “That you Cast Oil & Gas Ltd, Seyi Sanni, Adekunle Adebayo, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, Titi Oshontoki, Chinyere BishopAdigwe, Sunny Amos Offiong, Augusta Energy Nig. Ltd.–ancl Tunji Amushan (-at large) between January and December, 2015, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, by deceit, conspired with one another and with Augusta Energy of Geneva, Switzerland, to defraud Top Oil & Gas Development Ltd., to the tune of over 6.3 million United States of America Dollars.’

However, during proceedings, the Managing Director of the bank and four other defendants were absent in court.

Counsel to the bank’s MD, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN) informed the court of a pending application dated April 30, 2019 filed on behalf of his client challenging the jurisdiction of the court to determine the matter.

Responding, counsel to the Police, Emmanuel Jackson objected to the application. Jackson told the court that he had not been served the application.

At this stage, the trial judge, Justice Oshodi instructed Usoro to serve him a copy in court.

Justice Oshodi however observed that the proceeding cannot go on since all the defendants were not in court.

He subsequently adjourned the case till June 3, 2019 for hearing of the preliminary objection raised by the defence.

The Nation

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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