Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on Friday granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) permission to seize the assets of two suspects standing trial for involvement in the massive fuel subsidy fraud, Mamman Ali and SeunOgunbambo, until the trial has been concluded in court.
Mr. Alli is a son of former national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Ahmadu Alli, a retired army general and former minister. The other accused, Mr. Ogunbambo, has been portrayed at trial as a sophisticated and experienced serial fraudster with several international passports.
Counsel for the EFCC, Francis Usani, made the case for the commission to be empowered to seize the suspects’ assets. Mr. Usani told the judge that the suspects may be moving to liquidate their assets in order to frustrate the government’s ability to recover if the case eventually goes against them.
Mr. Usani disclosed that Mr. Seun Ogunbambo has an account with FBN (UK) with a credit of one million pounds. The EFCC’s counsel suggested that the one million pounds in the FBN account was suspected to be proceeds from Mr. Ogunbambo’s fraudulent fuel subsidy claims. Prosecutors allege that the suspect claimed significant payments from the Petroleum Support Fund for purported petroleum transactions, adding that Mr. Ogunbambo took the cash but failed to import any liter of fuel.
In the course of investigations, the EFCC discovered that Mr. Ogunbambo was the executive owner of Seatac Company, a holding company based in England that the suspect claimed he had imported fuel from. Mr. Usani revealed that the fat FBN account of Seatac Company bears the name of the suspect, OluwaseunOgunbambo.
The EFCC counsel contended that it was necessary to freeze the account before the suspects move the cash in it to a different account that may be difficult to trace.
Justice Onigbanjo subsequently ruled that the EFCC should temporarily freeze the assets belonging to both Mr. Alli and Mr. Ogunbambo until the case was determined.
In all, five accounts found by the EFCC to bear the name of Mr. Ogunbambo’s companies – Fargo Petroleum Gas Ltd., Arnage Oil and Gas Ltd., and Seatac Petroleum Ltd. – were part of the assets ordered to be frozen. The amounts in Mr. Ogunbambo’s Nigerian bank accounts were however not disclosed. The assets freezing order also included a property at 2 Olamijuyin Avenue, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos State, reportedly belonging to Mr. Ogunbambo.
The judge also ordered that the bank account of Nasama Oil Services, owned by Mamman Alli, be frozen as well. MammanAlli, one Christian Taylor and their company, Nasama Oil Services, are being tried alongside Mr. Seun Ogunbambo. Also standing trial are Mr. Ogunbambo’s protégé, HabilaTheck, and their jointly-owned company, Fargo Oil and Gas Ltd. The accused are charged with using the company to defraud Nigerians of about N5 billion in fuel subsidy scams and related schemes.
Mr. Ogunbambo is also in court for obtaining a loan from the Stambic IBTC Bank with forged documents.