By AKEEB ALARAPE
A Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja has issued a bench warrant against an oil marketer, Mr. Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, for his continuous failure to face trial.
Ogunbambo and Habila Theck, alongside their company, Fargo Energy Limited, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of N979.6 million in the fuel subsidy project.
The two marketers and their company were arraigned on July 31, 2012 on a six-count charge of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of forged documents to collect subsidy payment without supplying fuel.
At the last sitting of the court on the matter, the EFCC had accused Ogunbambo of using delay tactics to stall the commencement of his trial by claiming to be ill.
But counsel to the oil marketer, Mr. Mobolaji Akintunde, had told the court that his client sustained a spinal cord injury after falling from a bath tub.
Akintunde told the court that Ogunbambo was receiving treatment at the Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, buttressing his claim with a medical report, allegedly signed by one retired Brigadier General J. A. Aremu.
But the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, ordered the EFCC to verify the authenticity of the medical report.
At the resumed sitting of the court on the matter yesterday, counsel to the EFCC, Emmanuel Jackson, told the court that the medical report had been verified to be authentic but said there was nothing in the report that suggested that the oil marketer was not fit to continue with his trial.
Jackson said since the defendant was not on admission in the hospital and could move from his house in Ikoyi to attend hospital in Yaba, he could as well attend court for his trial.
He reiterated the earlier position of the anti-graft agency that Ogunbambo was just using trick to stall his trial and urged the court to disregard the document or in the alternative compel Ogunbambo to subject himself to an independent medical examination to verify the genuineness of his claim.
In his ruling, Justice Onigbanjo issued a bench warrant against the marketer and ordered the EFCC to execute the warrant.
The matter was later adjourned to April 10, 2014 for further hearing.