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Courts Admit More Evidence In N2.2bn Oil Subsidy Fraud Trial, Witnesses Testify

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In a development in the trial of Mamman Nasir Ali, Christian Taylor, and Nasaman Oil Services Limited, who are facing charges related to an alleged N2.2 billion oil subsidy fraud, Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos, admitted more evidence from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday, November 9, 2023.

During the proceedings, the prosecution presented documents supporting the charges against the defendants. They are accused of engaging in a range of fraudulent activities, including conspiracy to obtain money by false pretense, forgery, and use of false documents.

One of the specific charges pertains to an alleged attempt to defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely claiming a subsidy amount of N749,991,273.36 for the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). Another charge relates to a similar attempt involving the sum of N1,480,074,125.61.

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The accused individuals, Mamman Nasir Ali and Christian Taylor, pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges.

This trial began before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court but was reassigned to Justice Dada after Justice Onigbanjo withdrew from the case.

During the proceedings on November 9, Tolulola Tola-Ukabam, an investigative officer with the EFCC and a member of the Special Team on Petroleum Subsidy (STPS), provided testimony. She explained that the STPS was created in 2012 to investigate fraud in the fuel subsidy regime, focusing on subsidies to importers of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Tola-Ukabam’s role in the investigation involved verifying the activities of vessels used by marketers to import PMS. She used the Lloyd’s List of Intelligence database, a subscription-based online platform that provides real-time and historical maritime data, to track vessel locations and movements.

The witness revealed discrepancies in the defendants’ claims regarding vessel movements and locations. For instance, records showed that the vessels were in different locations than those claimed by the defendants during the alleged fraudulent transactions.

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The bills of laden submitted by the defendants to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) were also presented in court as Exhibit P18. Tola-Ukabam confirmed that these bills of laden formed the basis for the subsidy fund claims.

In cross-examination, she acknowledged that she had interviewed Christian Taylor, one of the defendants, during the investigation.

The trial is set to continue on December 15 and 20, 2023, as Justice Dada adjourned the matter after reviewing all submissions by the prosecution witness.

Emmanuel Ochayi
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