Alleged N978m Oil Fraud: Court rejects defendant’s ‘appeal’ that judge refuses self

EFCC operatives
EFCC operatives

A Lagos High Court judge, Christopher Balogun, on Tuesday rejected a motion requesting him to recuse himself from further hearing the alleged N978.4 million fraud case involving the Chairman of Nadabo Energy Limited, Abubakar Ali-Peters.

Mr Ali-Peters, 37, and his firm are standing on a 21-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretence, diversion of federal government funds and forgery brought against them by the EFCC.

The accused allegedly obtained N761.6 million from the federal government under the Petroleum Support Fund for the purpose of importing 16,808,064 litres of petrol “but fraudulently imported only 7, 953,962 litres and diverted the rest of the product and its proceeds for personal use”.

At the last adjourned date, the former defence counsel, Emefo Etudo, gave damning evidence against the defendant, then withdrew from the matter.

The state High Court in September had remanded the accused in prison for alleged plot to evade trial and abscond from the country.

According to a statement by the EFCC, Mr Balogun threw out the motion on the ground that the counsel to the defendant “no longer has the right to appear in the matter or present such application having relieved self of the matter at the last adjourned date.”

Court session

At the proceedings, the ‘former’ counsel to the defendant, Mr Etudo, filed a motion on notice asking the judge to recuse self from the matter.

The court described the motion as contemptuous and warned the counsel to refrain from disobeying court orders.

Mr Etubo apologised to the court and promised to obey the order of the court.

Meanwhile, the court had revoked the bail earlier granted to the defendant at the last sitting.

A fresh bail application was served by the new counsel to the defendant, Emmanuel Okedi.

Mr Balogun adjourned hearing on the bail application to October 21, and further hearing on the matter to November 6 and 7.

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