A Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed a “No-Case Submission” application filed by three Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited directors, who are on trial for an alleged £2.6 billion fraud.

In his ruling, Justice Mohammed Liman stated that the Federal Government had established a prima facie case against the company and its directors, necessitating their defense.

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However, Justice Liman ruled that the company’s financial consultant, Abayomi Kukoyi, had no case to answer, as his involvement in the alleged crime was purely professional.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting directors Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, and Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze on charges of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretenses, attempted theft, and forgery.

The EFCC alleges that the defendants fraudulently obtained a £2.556 billion cheque from a foreign bank under the pretext of constructing three petrochemical refinery complexes in Nigeria.

Additionally, they are accused of forging a statement of account in April 2007 in the name of Goldmatic Limited to obtain £2,159,221,313.54.

The EFCC asserts that these offenses contravene sections 1(2) and 1(2)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, as well as sections 509, 467(2)(I), and 468 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The defendants pleaded not guilty at their arraignment.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Rotimi Jacobs, representing the EFCC, argued that the prosecution had established a prima facie case of fraud through its witnesses.

He stated that investigations by Union Bank, the Central Bank, the Bankers’ Committee, and the EFCC confirmed the defendants’ fraudulent activities.

“We have proven the elements of these offenses beyond reasonable doubt, and each defendant should be required to present their defense,” Jacobs asserted.

“The defendants know the truth but insist that the Federal Government owes them £2.1 billion. They seek to take what belongs to all of us. This is a clear case of fraud, and no one should support it.”

If President Buhari approves Justice Liman’s elevation to the Court of Appeal, the criminal trial of Petro Union and its directors will be reassigned to another judge of the Federal High Court.