Oil Marketer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nepal Oil and Gas Services Limited, may go to jail over an alleged $10 million subsidy fraud.
Following a recent petition by a former banker, Chukwuemeka Ekwnuife, to the Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami SAN, over the alleged scam.
According to the report, the former banker urged the AGF to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to prosecute Ekeoma and submit its already concluded investigation report on the oil marketer.
Ekwnuife made this appeal in a letter dated October 12, 2020 titled: “Re: Petition against Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma and Mr Eme Ekeoma of Nepal Oil and Gas services for theft, fraud and obtaining over $10m under the petroleum subsidy scheme”.
According to him, the petition written by his solicitors, George Ikoli and Okagbue dated October 22, 2018 and his letter of reminder of additional on the fraudulent transactions by Mrs Ekeoma and her husband has lingered for almost 2 years without any significant progress by the EFCC.
Ekwnuife, while expressing his displeasure over the manner officers of the EFCC are handling his petition, said that he had also offered to throw more light on the alleged subsidy transaction that took place in Liberia and Nigeria in 2014, but no invitation has been sent to him.
“I have been standing trial on allegations bothering on these transactions which were twisted to incriminate me and I have decided to let the world know the truth behind my travail but the EFCC has decided not to do its job, with all due respect and come up to speed with its findings.
“I have decided to write this petition to call for an investigation into my allegation against Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma for the Umpteenth time believing this will yield desired result. My confidence to write this letter is informed by the impeccable integrity the Ministry of Justice and office of the AGF has exemplified since assumption of leadership,” Ekwunife added.
The former banker, who resigned from Sterling Bank in 2014, had told the Lagos Special Offences Court, Ikeja that the businesswoman pleaded with him to join her business and help her provide credit facilities for her companies.
He added that Mr and Mrs Ekeoma mandated him and one Ugochukuwu Onwugbuna to register a company, Dexter Oil Limited in Liberia for the purpose of oil trading transactions.
The petitioner also attached documents evidencing the fraudulent operational activities carried out by Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma and her companies in an earlier petition to the EFCC, through his solicitors, George Ikoli and Okagbue, dated October 22, 2018 (and received on Nov. 6, 2018).
“The documents are evidence of transfer of Premium motor Spirit (PMS) meant for consumption in Nigeria to vessels for subsequent sales overseas,” the petition reads.
Meanwhile, Ekwunife is standing trial on an 8 count charge of stealing, alongside Structured Energy Limited, for stealing a total sum of N168.5m from several companies belonging to Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma.
The EFCC alleged that Ekwunife, at different times in 2014, stole the said sum of money from, M.R.S oil and Gas, Exit Energy limited, Globin oil and Gas limited, Bond Energy, Greenage Energy Limited – all properties of Nepal Oil and Gas Limited.
But, in his defence, Ekwunife told the court that Mrs Ekeoma, owner of Nepal Oil and Gas Limited, used him to facilitate false documentations in Liberia in order to obtain money from the Federal government through subsidy scheme.
Ekwunife testified that he helped Mrs Ekeoma register several companies in Liberia to enable her carry out various importation of petroleum products particularly Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), under the petroleum scheme fund (subsidy scheme) with the FG.
The Ex-banker narrated that the oil marketer used him to facilitate false documentations in Liberia in order to steal millions of Naira from the Federal government of Nigeria through subsidy scheme.
In his testimony, Ekwunife said: “I helped her setup various companies like Structured Energy Resources Limited, Dexter Oil Limited, Ritrak Supply and Trading Limited, Gulf Trading and Shipping Limited – all registered in Liberia.
“These companies were used at various times to carry out trading and documentations related to subsidy by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We produced supporting documents like Bill of Laden, the recertification of products, the certificate of quality and certificate of Origin.
“These documentation were done outside the shores of Nigeria and used for trades that never happened in Nigeria. The documentation were done in Liberia for trades that were not live (feasible).
“We (referring to himself and Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma) used these documentations to carry out fraudulent activities by using documents formulated outside the country to perform trade in Nigeria that were not suppose to happen”.
Buttressing the claims made by Ekwunife, another witness, Mr Anthony Abraham, had earlier told the court that there exist a relationship between a former banker, Chukwuemka Ekwunife and a businesswoman, Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma, in an alleged subsidy fraud that took place in Liberia and Nigeria in 2014.
Mr Abraham, a Financial consultant, said that he met Ekwunife in Liberia when he came to open accounts and register some companies.
Mr Abraham said he was introduced to Ekwunife by a former client and a friend, who he claimed not to remember his/her identity.
The Financial consultant said that had known Mrs Ekeoma Ngosi as a friend long before he knew Ekwunife, who he only met while he was working in Liberia with a bank, First International bank.
“I was working in Liberia with a bank called First International Bank when I met the defendant, Chukwuemeka Ekwunife.
”He came to do business in Liberia with intentions of opening accounts and registering some companies. If I recall, He was introduced to me by a former client and friend of mine, who I can’t really remember,” he said.
When asked if that friend was Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma, the witness said he can’t remember.
However, the defence Counsel showed a document, containing several emails of transactions which he sent to Ekwunife and copied Mr and Mrs Ekeoma, to the witness and asked him to identify it.
The witness identified the emails and said, “Yes I sent these mails to Tochukwu71@yahoo.com (belonging to Ekwunife) and I copied three others namely; Ekeoma_Eme@hotmail.com (belonging to Mr Ekeoma), Ibeyanma72@yahoo.co.uk. (belong to Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma) and U firstname.lastname@example.org (belonging to Mr Ugochukwu Onwuegbuna).
”The emails were sent as a result of transactions in an account, Dexter Oil Limited, which was opened by Mr Emeka in Liberia and the account was opened with the same name.
“After it was opened, I wasn’t the direct account officer but an officer was assigned. Though I had an overview of the transactions. The account received both inflows and outflows. Mr Emeka was the sole signatory of the account and instructions would normally come from him to run the account.
“I was asked to copy Mr Ugochukwu, who is also a Director in Dexter just as Ekwunife, and then copy both Mr and Mrs Ekeoma in each mail”.
When asked how he knew Mrs Ekeoma, he replied, ” I’ve known her for many years – long before I met Ekwunife. I’ve never had any business transactions with Ngozi before I met Ekwunife. But Mrs Ngozi Ekeoma has a relationship with the defendant, Ekwunife “.
When asked why he copied Mrs Ekeoma if there was no business relationship, the Consultant replied, “I was asked to copy these people and I literarily don’t know all of them”.
The matter was adjourned till September 30 for continuation of defence.