Court releases and acquits businessmen of alleged fraud charge N1.8b | The Guardian Nigeria News

A Special Crimes Court in Ikeja, Lagos, yesterday acquitted and acquitted two businessmen, Ogbor Eliot and Kelvin Chris, of a N1.8 billion fraud allegation brought against them by the Crimes Commission Economics and Finance (EFCC).

Judge Oluwatoyin Taiwo cleared Ogbor and Chris of all five counts bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretences, conspiracy and forgery, after a nearly four-year trial.

The judge found that the EFCC had not established any element of criminality against the defendants, adding that the transaction, which led to the charge, was of a civil nature which could have been resolved by the plaintiff and the defendants.

The defendants were arrested by the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC on October 22, 2018, alongside Danium Energy Services Limited, which the prosecution alleges was used to deceive Sterling Bank Plc into lending them money to finance a local purchase order (LPO) of 20,000 metric tons. of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) for supply to Total Nigeria Limited.

Each defendant pleaded “not guilty”, after which the trial began.

On August 5, 2022, the court adjourned until yesterday for judgment.

When the proceedings resumed, the court upheld Ogbor and Chris’ assertion that the charge should not have been brought in the first place.

Judge Taiwo said, “I have reviewed the prosecution evidence as well as the defense evidence. It is clear to me that the issue here is of a civil nature, which could have been resolved in a civil case. There is no element of criminality in a loan duly secured by a stockyard in Akwa Ibom State owned by the first defendant.

“It is imperative to state that a debt collection should not always be criminalized, based on the testimony of Prosecution Witness (PW) 1, who testified that Sterling Bank exercised due diligence before a loan of 1.8 billion naira to finance the LPO is granted.

“The witness testified that the bank visited the facility used to secure the loan allegedly used at the time the defendant defaulted.

“I find and maintain that the prosecution has failed to establish any element of criminality against the defendants here. Accordingly, they are hereby released and acquitted.

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