N3bn subsidy fraud: Arisekola, Bamanga Tukur’s sons ‘forged documents’ – Witness

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At last, the trial of the trio of Mahmud Tukur, Abdullahi Alao, and Ochonoghor Alex and their companies, Eternal Plc and Axenergy has commenced, with a prosecution witness, Abdul-rasheed Bawa, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) telling Justice Hakeem Oshodi of the Lagos High Court how the defendants allegedly defrauded the federal government of N3, 121,393,098 (N3.1 billion).
Tukur jnr. is the son of the former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Bamanga Tukur; while Mr. Alao is the son of a former Ibadan-based Islamic leader, Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao.
The defendants had previously been arraigned before Justice Lawal Akapo on December 10, 2015 for allegedly diverting the money obtained from the federal government for the purpose of importing premium motor spirit (PMS).
The counsel to the accused had subsequently filed a joint application seeking to quash the charge preferred against their clients by the commission.
In his ruling, Oshodi had dismissed the application and upheld the argument of the prosecution and also held that the prosecution had successfully established a prima facie case against the accused persons and described the application as “premature”.
At the resumed hearing before Oshodi on Friday, November 24, 2017, the defence, again, argued that the prosecution did not have the fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to prosecute the case.
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, however, submitted that he did not have to show the defence if he had the fiat of the AGF to prosecute them.
However, the witness, in his testimony, told court how the accused had allegedly forged over 30 documents and submitted same to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to fraudulently obtain the subsidy for importation of PMS in 2011.
Giving further evidence on MT Fulmar, Ex MT Emirates Star and MT Panther EX MT Emirates Star, the witness said the modus operandi employed by the defendants to defraud the government was alteration of bills of lading dates resulting in higher costs of importation.
“The government, acting on forged importation documents indicating MT Emirates Star, paid Eternal about N3.3billion instead of N2.9billion. Thus Eternal was overpaid about N300, 000, 000,” the witness said.

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