UPDATE: A Lagos High Court has just granted bail to another suspected fuel subsidy fraudster, Abdullahi Alao, while fixing his trial for October 22, 30,31 and November 1 for his trial.
Mr. Alao is son of Arisekola Alao, an Ibadan-based businessman, and diehard Abacha apologist.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, withdrew all criminal charges against four suspects in the on-going prosecution of oil marketers involved in the subsidy fraud.
The anti-graft agency said the charges against Peter Mba, Pinnacle Oil and Gas, Durosola Omogbenigun, and Integrated Resources Limited at the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere were “misconstrued and was filed by mistake”.
The duo and their respective companies had been charged with conspiracy and fraud in obtaining over N2billion worth of subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund.
After a proper review, it was found that the suspects were innocent of the offence they were charged with, the EFCC said.
Samuel Candide-Johnson, the presiding judge, struck out the charges after an application by the agency.
Order from above
Rotimi Oyedepo, a counsel to EFCC, said that he was instructed by Mohammed Adoke, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to withdraw the suit.
“The information has not been served on the defence. I urge the court to strike out the charge,” Mr. Oyedepo said.
“The charges preferred against the defendants in this case were misconstrued by the prosecution and were inadvertently filed against the said defendants.
“A review of the prosecution’s case and the evidence available to the prosecution clearly show that the defendants did not commit the offences for which they are charged,” Mr. Oyedepo added.
The EFCC told the court that they would substitute the withdrawn charges with a newly filed one involving Oluwaseun Ogunbambo and others.
“Withdrawing the charge against the defendants will meet the interest of justice in the case,” Mr. Oyedepo added.
The four suspects had been charged with pocketing over N2 billion after claiming to have imported about 32 million litres of fuel from such places as Gibraltar and Geneva.
“The withdrawal of the charges against Pinnacle Oil and Gas Plc and others was deliberate,” Wilson Uwajuren, EFCC spokesman said in release later on Tuesday. “In the face of fresh evidence, the Commission felt the need to firm up the charges, fully convinced that it is better to consolidate the charges ahead of formal arraignment than to start making amendments thereafter.”