Fuel subsidy: Iheanacho freed over bribery allegation

Posted by News Express | 20 April 2013 | 4,507 times

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The Managing Director of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, Anthony Iheanacho, has been left off the hook by an Apapa Magistrate Court, Lagos, over a three-count charge of offering N1.5 million bribe to members of the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Verification.

Anthony is the brother of Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, a former Interior Minister who currently serves as chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited.

Magistrate Martins Onwumi who quashed the charge held among others that “it is obvious that the prosecution is speculating as none of its evidence supports the charge . . . The prosecution has failed in proving a prima facie case. In the circumstance to do justice to this matter is the discharging and acquitting of the defendants after their no case submission is upheld . . . Based on the above, the no case to answer succeeds and the defendants are hereby discharged and acquitted on all counts.”

Other defendants to enjoy this freedom from prosecution are Assistant General Manager (Supply) of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, Humphery Okoh; the company’s Financial Controller, Akinwusi Julius; as well as two members of the Presidential Committee on Fuel Subsidy Verification, Alalade Abioye and Oni Oluwasola. They were all arraigned before the court on the conspiracy to offer gratification of N1.5 million to public officers.

The prosecutor alleged further that the money was offered while the committee was rounding its exercise of verification and reconciliation of payment of fuel subsidy.

The Investigation Officer, Olalokun Kehinde, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) who testified for the prosecution, told the court that his investigation did not show that the gift influenced the team nor  induced them, adding that he recommended that the file be passed on to the legal department but “I  did not recommend the prosecution of the defendants.”

Counsel to the defendants raised the issue of “no case submission,” insisting that there was no evidence to prove an essential element of the alleged offence.

Citing a plethora of cases, Magistrate Onwumi held that by the provisions of the 4th and 5th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, members of the Presidential Committee on Subsidy Verification could not be categorised as public officers.

Confirming that the money in question was not meant to influence their work, he held finally that “in a bid to rush the case to court, the defendants were arrested, statements taken and on the basis of their statements charged to court. The Legal Department of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) did not take into consideration the report of the Investigating Police Officer who clearly gave the defendants clean bill of health but just felt that this case must be charged to court forgetting that there are certain ingredients that must be proved in court.”

Photo: Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho (rtd.), Chairman, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited.

Source: News Express

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