Mahmud Tukur – the son of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; Ochonogor Alex and Abdulahi Alao – the son of another PDP chieftain, Arisekola Alao – were re-arraigned before Justice Lawal Akakpo at the Ikeja High Court this morning. Spaces for Change-S4C witnessed the proceedings consistent its objective to monitor the efforts made to bring to justice, the several oil marketers indicted in the pilferage of fuel subsidy monies running into trillions of Naira, which triggered a nationwide outrage and uprising in January 2012.
The three accused persons entered a NOT GUILTY plea, after the nine-count charge was read to them in English language. Most of the charges brought against them were anchored on Section 1, subsections 1-3 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Related Offenses Act and the Nigerian Criminal Code, CAP 127 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. The nine counts ranged from forgery of bills of lading and other importation instruments purportedly issued by Eternal Oil and Gas Limited; fraud and obtaining money by false pretenses from the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation of over 6 million liters of petroleum motor spirit (PMS).
The counsels to the accused persons, Oshipitan SAN, Olaniyan Obere SAN and a team of lawyers, have filed an objection dated May 15, 2013 to challenge the validity of, and quash the charges brought against the accused persons.
Citing the case of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Vs. National Conscience Party (NCP), the presiding judge, Justice Akakpo refused Olaniyan Obere SAN’s application for a long adjournment. In that INEC’s case, the court held that “for an adjournment to be secured, it must be reasonable, sensible and probable”.
The court further ruled that the three defendants should continue to enjoy the bail conditions as granted by Justice Onigbanjo, the previous judge handling the matter. The Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) lead prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs did not oppose the application for the defendants’ bail and bail conditions to continue.
The case was adjourned to February 24, 2014 for arguments of the objections filed by the defendants.