The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday re-arraigned three oil marketers— Opeyemi Ajuyah, Abdullahi Alao and Olarenwaju Olalusi– over an alleged N1.1 billion fuel-subsidy fraud.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendants were charged before Justice Lateefa Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court.

They were re-arraigned on an amended eight-count charge alongside their companies— Majope Investment Ltd., and Axenergy Ltd.

NAN also reports that the defendants had been previously arraigned on Oct.10, 2012 on a nine-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of fake documents.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail then.

However, on Friday, the EFCC counsel, Mr Seidu Atteh, informed the court that the prosecution had amended the charges.

Atteh, therefore, asked the court to direct the defendants to retake their pleas and his request was granted.

He said the defendants had fraudulently obtained N1.1 billion from the Federal Government between January 2011 and April 2012.

Atteh said the money was for subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund for the purported importation of 15 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

The defendants were also alleged to have forged a bill of lading, cargo manifest and other documents which they used in facilitating the fraud.

The alleged offences were said to contravene Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006.

The offences also violated Sections 363(a) and 364 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Section 363(1) stipulates that the offender on conviction is liable to three years’ imprisonment.

The defendants , however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following the arraignment, Atteh sought the leave of the court to recall five prosecution witnesses who had previously testified in the trial.

The judge granted his request and adjourned the matter till Oct.20 for trial.


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