Tunde Afolabi of Amni Petroleum Company and Nepal Oil boss, Ngozi Ekeoma are both in trouble trouble for fraud, ENigeria Newspaper reports.
A bench warrant has been issued against Tunde Afolabi, the Chairman of Amni Petroleum Limited, by a Lagos Special Offences Court in Ikeja. Afolabi was supposed to testify as a defense witness in a criminal case involving an ex-banker, Chukwuemeka Ekwunife, accused of N168.5 million embezzlement.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, charged Ekwunife with stealing N168.5 million from multiple firms owned by Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma, an oil trader and businesswoman.
The EFCC said that Ekwunife stole the money from M.R.S oil and gas, Exit Energy limited, Globin oil and gas limited, Bond Energy, and Greenage Energy Limited, all of which are owned by Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma and are all properties of Nepal Oil and Gas Limited, ENigeria Newspaper understands.
Mrs Ekeoma pleaded with him to join her business, help her provide credit facilities for her companies, and used him to facilitate false documentations in Liberia in order to steal millions of Naira from the Federal government of Nigeria through a subsidy scheme, according to the former banker, who resigned from Sterling bank in 2014.
However, Tunde Afolabi, the Chairman of Amni Petroleum, was given a bench warrant after he repeatedly failed to appear in court after being summoned to testify in the former banker’s defense.
Mr Eubena Amedie, the defense counsel, voiced his concern with the Amni petroleum chairman’s continuing nonappearance and urged the court to issue a bench warrant, which the court granted.
According to the defense counsel, it is improper for the witness’s counsel, R. M Onweka, to inform the court that his client is unable to attend court due to the defendant’s failure to make financial arrangements to enable him to testify as a witness.
“The witness has been served with a subpoena since last year, around December 2020, and a reminder was delivered on September 6, 2021. On September 28, we sent out another reminder. So it’s not fair to show up to court today and find the witness has vanished once more.
“My Lord, we would want to request a bench warrant against the subpoenaed witness under Section 186 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) 2015 at this time.”
Meanwhile, a defense witness, Mr Anthony Abraham, a financial expert, testified before the court that there is a tie between a former banker and Mrs Ekeoma, a businesswoman, in an alleged subsidy fraud that occurred in Liberia and Nigeria in 2014.
According to the financial consultant, he met Ekwunife in Liberia when he came to create accounts and register several businesses.
Mr Abraham stated that he was introduced to Ekwunife by a previous client and acquaintance, whose identity he claimed he did not recall.
Mrs Ekeoma Ngosi, the financial expert said, was a friend long before he met Ekwunife, whom he only met while working for a bank in Liberia, First International Bank.
“I was working in Liberia with a bank named First International Bank when I met the defendant, Chukwuemeka Ekwunife,” the witness stated as he was carried into evidence.”
He came to Liberia to do business, intending to open accounts and register several firms. He was referred to me by a former client and acquaintance of mine, whose name I don’t recall.”
The witness stated he couldn’t remember if that friend was Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma when asked.
The defense counsel, on the other hand, handed the witness a document containing multiple emails of transactions that he sent to Ekwunife and copied Mr and Mrs Ekeoma, and asked him to identify it.
The witness identified the emails and said, “Yes I sent these mails to [email protected] (belonging to Ekwunife) and I copied three others namely; [email protected] (belonging to Mr Ekeoma), [email protected] (belong to Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma) and U [email protected] (belonging to Mr Ugochukwu Onwuegbuna).
” The emails were sent as a result of transactions in an account, Dexter Oil Limited, which was opened by Mr Emeka in Liberia and the account was opened with the same name.
“After it was opened, I wasn’t the direct account officer but an officer was assigned. Though I had an overview of the transactions. The account received both inflows and outflows. Mr Emeka was the sole signatory of the account and instructions would normally come from him to run the account.
“I was asked to copy Mr Ugochukwu, who is also a Director in Dexter just as Ekwunife, and then copy both Mr and Mrs Ekeoma in each mail”.
When asked how he knew Mrs Ekeoma, he replied, ” I’ve known her for many years – long before I met Ekwunife. I’ve never had any business transactions with Ngozi before I met Ekwunife. But Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma has a relationship with the defendant, Ekwunife “.
When asked why he copied Mrs Ekeoma if there was no business relationship, the Consultant replied, “I was asked to copy these people and I literarily don’t know all of them.
Meanwhile, according to Ekwunife, in his defence, said that he helped the businesswoman register several companies in Liberia to enable her carry out various importation of petroleum products particularly Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), under the petroleum scheme fund (subsidy scheme) with the FG.
The defendant insisted that the Mrs Ekeoma transfered Premium motor spirit (PMS) meant for consumption in Nigeria to vessels for subsequent sale overseas.
Ekwunife told the court that “I helped her setup various companies like Structured Energy Resources Limited, Dexter Oil Limited, Ritrak Supply and Trading Limited, Gulf Trading and Shipping Limited – all registered in Liberia.
“These companies were used at various times to carry out trading and documentations related to subsidy by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We produced supporting documents like Bill of Laden, the recertification of products, the certificate of quality and certificate of Origin.
“These documentation were done outside the shores of Nigeria and used for trades that never happened in Nigeria. The documentation were done in Liberia for trades that were not live (feasible).
“We (referring to himself and Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma) used these documentations to carry out fraudulent activities by using documents formulated outside the country to perform trade in Nigeria that were not suppose to happen”.
The defendant had also in October 22, 2018, through his solicitors, George Ikoli and Okagbue, petitioned the EFCC revealing an alleged $10m subsidy fraud committed by Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma sometime in 2011 and 2012.
Included in the petition titled: Complaint of $10m subsidy fraud perpetrated by Ngozi Ekeoma and Nepal Oil and Gas,’ acknowledged and received by the EFCC on November 6, 2019, were attached documents evidencing the fraudulent operational activities carried out by Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma and her company.
The matter was further adjourned till October 18, 2021 for continuation of defence.