Abia Guber Crisis: Uche Ogah’s Forgery Trial Begins.
The trial of the president of Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, Dr. Uche Ogah, and a former employee of a commercial bank, Deji Somoye, began before a Tinubu Magistrate’s Court in Lagos, yesterday.
The defendants were arraigned before Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Kikelomo Ayeye, over alleged fraud. The police alleged that Ogah, who was recently declared the duly elected governor of Abia State by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, forged a Memorandum of Understanding between Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited and Mut-Hass Petroleum Limited sometime in March 2011.
Ogah and some other persons who are at large were alleged to have forged the signature of one Mrs. Bridget Adeosun to seal the deal.
The alleged forgery was reportedly committed in Ikeja, Lagos. The case was however adjourned till October 10, 2016 by the court registrar due to the absence of the Magistrate.
The police had alleged that the bank aided Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited to open an account in the name of Mut-Hass Petroleum to perpetrate a fraud without applying its internal control procedures in opening of the account.
The police further claimed that the bank allowed the said account to be opened sometime in 2011 at its regional office in Palmgrove, Lagos, in breach of the provisions of the Financial Institutions Act 2004.
According to the Police prosecutor, ASP Henry Obiazi, the offences contravened sections 363 (3) (u), 408 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
The charges read in part: “That you, Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, Uche Ogah, and others at large sometime in March 2011 at Ikeja, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves to wit: forgery.
“That you, Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, Uche Ogah, and others at large, on the same date, time, place and in the aforementioned Magisterial District, did forge the signature of one Mrs. Bridget Adeosun and a document known as MoU between Mut-Hass Petroleum Limited and Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, with an intent that it may be in any way used or acted upon as genuine.
“That you, Deji Somoye and others still at large, sometime in August 2011, at the bank’s (name withheld) regional office, Palmgrove, in the Lagos Magisterial District, knowing that Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited designed to commit an offence, failed to use all reasonable means to prevent the commission or the completion of the crime.”
When the case first came up last May, the defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and were admitted to bail in the sum of N200,000 each with one surety each in like sum.
At yesterday’s session of the court, senior officials of the Abia State government stormed the premises.
Ogah’s lawyer, Mr Monday Ubani, had also explained that the forgery allegation by the police was mischievous as the complainant had indeed entered a business agreement with Ogah’s company, where she divested her interest in an oil importation contract.
Ubani said part of the agreement included the opening of an account in the name of Mut-Hass Energy where proceeds from the oil importation business would be paid into.
He added that the business went on smoothly until Adeosun attempted to alter the account signatories and made herself sole signatory after the oil business proceeds had been paid into the account.
He said that it was when the bank officials resisted Adeosun’s plot to become the sole signatory to the account that she raised an alarm that her signature was forged.
“We have all our evidence and we will show them to the court; the mischievous nature of the complainant. How can someone attempt to change the signatories of an account you claim was forged? The court will surely hear the truth and I can assure you that truth and justice shall prevail,” he said.
The officials included the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Eyinnaya Appolos, two personal assistants to the governor and a former commissioner.
Reacting to the presence in the court premises by Abia government officials, Ubani said it was obvious that the allegation was politically motivated.
“You can imagine what happened today. What is the business of Abia State government in a trial that they are neither complainant nor prosecutor? This goes to show you those behind this false allegation,” he said