By Lukman Olabiyi

A rights group, the Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV), in collaboration with Advocate for Social Justice and Defence of Rule of Law, has raised the alarm over the intent of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), to take over the prosecution of a case involving a foreign oil firm and five others accused of $8.4 million fraud.

Trafigura Beheer BV Trafigura PTE Ltd is facing trial alongside two oil marketers – Osahon Asemota and Yusuf Kwande, as well as Mettle Energy and Gas, Renbrandt Ltd. and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Limited.

The defendants are facing a three-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen property proffered against them by the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU) before Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

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The prosecution accused the foreign oil company, alongside its four co-defendants of stealing 6.4 metric tonnes of diesel oil worth $8.4 million, belonging to Nadabo Energy Limited, in October 2008. During the six-year trial, 17 witnesses had testified for the prosecution before the agency closed its case, while the defendants have, so far, presented four witnesses.

CAIDOV said the trial took a puzzling turn when the Director, Public Prosecution of Federation, Mr M.A. Abubakar, by a letter dated February 29, 2024, announced the takeover of the prosecution of the matter by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. The letter stated that the takeover of the prosecution of the case was in exercise of AGF’s powers under section 174(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

CAIDOV, in its statement signed by the duo of Gbenga Soloki and Niyi Adekanla, respectively,  stated that based on its investigations on the matter, revealed that the AGF took over the prosecution of the case due to a petition dated November 17, 2023 sent to his office.

The group held that the office of the AGF’s takeover of the prosecution of the criminal suit would lead to more delays in the matter which has been in court for six-years. The group queried why other options as provided by law, which would not cause further delays in the case, were not explored before the aggrieved parties in the suit resorted to writing to the office of the AGF.

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