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February 14, 20203min400

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, on Thursday, February 13, 2020, arraigned Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Okpala, Prince Okpalaeze and Prince Okpalaeze alongside a company, Petro Union & Gas Company Limited, before Justice Mohammad Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, attempt to steal and forgery to the tune of £2,556,000,000.00 (Two Billion, Five Hundred and Fifty-six Million Pounds).

One of the counts reads: “That you, Petro Union Oil and Gas Company Limited, Prince Isaac Okpala (now deceased), Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze and Princess Gladys Okpalaeze (now at large), on or about 29th December, 1994, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, fraudulently procured a Barclays Bank cheque dated 29th December, 1994 in the sum of £2,556,000,000.00 (Two Billion, Five Hundred and Fifty- six million Pounds) made payable to Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates, purporting the said cheque to be meant for foreign investment in the construction of three refineries and petrochemical complex in Nigeria, when you knew the said cheque to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (2) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and punishable under the same section.”

Another count reads: “That you, Petro Union Oil and Gas Company Limited, Prince Isaac Okpala( now deceased), Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze and Princess Gladys Okpaleze( now at large) on or about 10th April, 2007, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, with intent to defraud, forged a certain document to wit: statement of account in the name of Goldmatic Limited purportedly issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria in account number: 10382175, wherein you falsely claimed that the Central Bank had in its custody the sum of £2,159,221,313.54 (Two Billion, One Hundred and Fifty- nine Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-one Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirteen Pounds and Fifty-four Shillings) in favour of Goldmatic Limited and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 467(2) (i) of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same section.”

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them.

In view of the plea, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, asked the court for a trial date and also prayed that the defendants be remanded in the Nigeria Correctional Service, NCS.

Counsel to the defendants, however, told the court about pending applications for bail on behalf of their clients.

Consequently, Justice Liman adjourned the matter to February 19, 2020 for hearing of the bail applications and commencement of trial.

The defendants were remanded in the EFCC custody.

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