The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday called two witnesses to testify against the Chairman of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), Fatuyi Yemi Philips, charged with N43.5 million fraud.
Fatuyi is standing trial alongside his company, Oceanview Oil and Gas Ltd at an Ikeja Special Offences Court.
The first witness, Mr Princewill Nmerenwanne, while being led in evidence by the EFCC counsel, Mr M.S. Owede, said he was a business consultant.
He told the court that he transferred the sum of N43.5 million to the defendant sometimes in 2016 for the procurement of dollars (USD) but he failed to give him the money.
“The transfer of the money was made in three tranches in which the sum of N43.5 million was sent to the defendant’s company for the purchase of US dollars.
He said: “Mr Elochukwu Okoye made the transfer to the defendant’s company’s account and the exchange rate was N440 to one dollar at that time. He was supposed to remit 98,870 USD as equivalent to us which we never received.
“We approached the Law Enforcement Agency at Zone 2 and the defendant was invited and detained but nothing came out of it. I also traveled to Abuja to the IGP Monitoring Unit to lodge the complainant in which he was also invited and detained but at the end, he was also granted freedom after some days.
“The case died again and I had to run back to Lagos to complain at EFCC. He was arrested and dragged the issue from and back until he made an agreement to pay 8,000 USD on a monthly basis which he paid just once and never paid again.
“I wrote a petition to EFCC against the defendant and his company and I also attached necessary documents to it. When EFCC invited me and my team, the defendant was also invited with his team. We we’re at it for a period of time before he agreed to pay the money in installments.
“Attached to the statement is the payment of the money which was paid in trenches on the same day, N502,000, N25 million and 18 million respectively was paid by Okoye to the defendant’s company’s account,”
In a cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr Olarenwaju Ajanaku, the witness said he made a preliminary findings to why the money was not forthcoming, added that he did did not transfer the money himself.
He also told the court he had evidence to show he was at Zone 2 and Abuja but the evidence was not with him in court.
“It did not transfer the money myself. It was Okoye who transferred the money to the defendant and I made some findings and found out that the defendant has houses in Oke Afa but I did not confirm if he has hotel in Ikeja.
“What I am interested in is retrieving my money. What I was hoping is that the defendant could sell the houses and give me my money,” the witness said.
The second witness, Elochukwu Okoye, a bureau de change operator with WAPCIL Nig. Ltd and the owner of Elebana Unique Ventures Nig. Ltd, testified that he knew the defendant in the course of the transaction and that he sent the N43.5 million to him.
“In Sept. 2016, there was a need for our client to buy 98,870USD and I have friend at Polaris Bank and he contacted Princewill. They gave me a price so that they can move the money to Dubai to purchase chemical for a company.
“They gave me a price of N440 to 1 dollar which amounted to N43.5 million which I paid the N18 million and N502,000 from my personal account and the N25 million was paid from my company’s account, Elebana Unique Ventures Nig Ltd, to the defendant’s Zenith bank with account name Oceanview Oil and Gas Ltd.
“They were supposed to finish the business within two days but after that, they started giving excuses. For three week’s, nothing came out of it. That was when the defendant was arrested at Zone 2 Police Station and that was the first time of meeting the defendant,”
Okoye told the court that the petition he wrote to EFCC was signed by the firstly witness and added that a meeting was scheduled by the commission on which the defendant agreed to pay 8,000 USD but filed as promised.
He said the defendant only paid once since 2018.
In cross-examination by the defence counsel, Okoye told the court that one Kingsley Nwakwo gave him the account the defendant.
Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until Sept. 30 for continuation of trial.