Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has withdrawn charges of alleged fraud in the fuel subsidy payments against Durosola Omogbenigun and Peter Mba along with their firms.
Counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Oyedepo Rotimi, told a Lagos High Court in Igbosere on Tuesday that the charge tagged, ID/122C/2012, was mistakenly instituted against Omogbenigun, his company Integrated Resources Limited, like Mba and his Pinnacle Oil and Gas firm.
According to the lawyer, the charge had not been served on the defence as Tuesday’s proceedings.
Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson struck out the charge following an application by the EFCC.
The EFCC, in the charge, alleged that they conspired on different occasions to fraudulently collect over N2bn from the Federal Government under the Petroleum Support Fund, purporting the money to be payments for importing certain litres of petrol).
The four were charged with four counts of conspiracy to obtain and obtaining property by false pretences.
The anti-graft body said the offences were contrary to Section 8 and 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006.
However, Rotimi said he was instructed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, to withdraw the case.
He said the EFCC found out after a review that the suspects did not commit the offence for which they were to be arraigned.
Rotimi said, “We have information (charge) dated July, 20 2012 before this court. I have the instruction of the Attorney-General to withdraw the information.
“The information has not been served on the defence. I urge the court to strike out the charge.”
He added, “The charges preferred against the defendants in this case were misconstrued by the prosecution and were inadvertently filed against the said defendants.
“A review of the prosecution’s case and the evidence available to the prosecution clearly showed that the defendants did not commit the offences for which they are charged.
“The complainant/applicant in consideration of the above fact has decided to withdraw the criminal charge before this Honourable Court against the defendant and substitute it with an information already filed at the registry of this Honourable Court in suit No. ID/122C/2012 – Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Oluwaseun Ogunbambo and others.
“Withdrawing the charge against the defendants will meet the interest of justice in the case.”
The judge said, “At the instance of the prosecution, the information, having been withdrawn, is struck out.”
In its application dated July 26, the EFCC premised on Section 73 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State 2007, Rotimi sought an order granting the EFCC leave to withdraw the charge “against all the defendants.”
Meanwhile, spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren said, “The withdrawal of the charges against Pinnacle Oil and Gas Plc and others was deliberate. In the face of fresh evidence, the commission felt the need to firm up the charges, fully convinced that it is better to consolidate the charges ahead of formal arraignment than to start making amendments thereafter.”