Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Subsidy Scam: Defence Counsel Stall Trial of Tukur’s Son, Others

Efforts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to call its witnesses in the ongoing trial of Messrs Mahmud Tukur, Ochonogor Alex, Abdullahi Alao and Eterna Plc, at a Lagos High Court for their alleged involvement in a N1.8 billion fuel subsidy scam, were Monday stalled by the defence team led by Wole Olanipekun and Tayo Oyetibo, both SeniorAdvocates of Nigeria (SANs).

The case could not proceed further when the court resumed hearing because the defence team presented a late application challenging the  jurisdiction of the court.
Tukur, son of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Alao, son of Ibadan-based businessman, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao and others were alleged to have fraudulently obtained N1.8 billion from the federal government through the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF), and were arraigned on a nine-count charge that bordered on obtainingmoney through false pretence and forgery, contrary to section 468 of the Criminal Code.
According to EFCC in a statement, the application was served on the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), barely 20 minutes to the commencement of proceedings.
Jacobs told the court that he was not aware of any ongoing discussions as claimed by Olanipekun and Oyetibo that would have justified the late application.
He therefore submitted that the case be heard, and expressed his willingness to argue the application of the defendants orally.
The defence team, however, said it would need 48 hours to put in a writtenaddress.
Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo subsequently granted the defence team 48 hours to file a written address and serve same on the prosecution while the prosecution files its response within seven days.
The court then adjourned until May 28, for hearing of the application.

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