Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Court Denies Bail To Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, Citing ‘Criminal Antecedents’


In a departure from the willingness of courts to grant bails to suspects undergoing trial for fuel subsidy fraud, a Lagos High Court Judge, Adeniyi Onigbanjo, today denied bail to Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, citing his criminal antecedents.
Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN), the counsel for Mr. Ogunbambo and another freshly arraigned suspect, Habila Theck, had filed applications for their bail. The Ikeja-based high court granted bail to Mr. Theck in the sum of N150 million with two sureties in like sum. Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo ruled that the sureties must have landed property in Lagos worth N100 million.
However, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo denied bail to Mr. Ogunbambo on account of the suspect’s criminal past. Prior to his indictment on subsidy fraud charges, Mr. Ogunbambo reportedly had a standing criminal case in which he is accused of failing to service huge loans of N230 million and N430 million he obtained from Stambic IBTC Bank.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned Mr. Ogunbambo and Mr. Theck on six-count charges of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretense, forgery and use of false documents. The anti-graft agency alleges that the two accused persons and
their oil company on February 10, 2012, “with intent to defraud, conspired to fraudulently obtain N976,653,110.28 from the Federal Government of Nigeria through false pretense.”
The EFCC said the sum represented subsidy accruing on a purported importation of 13,627,084 liters of fuel the fuel marketers claimed to have purchased from Sealac Petroleum Limited and imported into Nigeria aboard MT Diplomat. The anti-corruption agency accuses the suspects of making false claims.
The commission also alleges that, on October 14, 2011, the accused men and their company forged a document titled “Certificate of Origin, Port of Loading, Antwerp Belgium,” purporting the document to have been issued by Sealac Petroleum Limited.
Mr. Ogunbambo’s bail application hit a snag because of his prior attempt to evade prosecution. After the EFCC seized his two international passports to ensure that he did not escape trial in the Stambic IBTC loan scam, Mr. Ogunbambo was arrested at an airport in Dublin, Ireland. Investigators say he was carrying a huge amount of cash in a country where it is highly unusual to do so.
Following Mr. Ogunbambo’s arrest in Dublin, the EFCC re-invited him, aware that he must have obtained another international passport with which he traveled.
At today’s hearing, the court was informed that Mr. Ogunbambo uses multiple identities to travel to different countries, changing names at will. The EFCC disclosed, for instance, that the accused identifies himself in the United Kingdom as Benson Adekunbo Aladapo Sobowale.
Mr. Ogunbambo’s counsel made a valiant effort to persuade the court to grant him bail, but the presiding judge was not impressed. Instead, Justice Onigbanjo held that, in light of Mr. Ogunbambo’s crooked history of illicitly obtaining an international passport, it would amount to aiding his escape if he was granted bail. He noted that the accused could easily obtain another passport and flee Nigeria’s borders.
Barring a successful appeal, Mr. Ogunbambo will remain in Ikoyi Prison until the conclusion
of his trial.

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