Court Convicts Oil Marketer, Julian Ndubueze Ezeji, For Fraud

Justice Raliat Adebiyi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has convicted and sentenced a Petroleum marketer, Julian Ndubueze Ezeji and her company, Initial Energy Service Limited to 20 months imprisonment over fraud.

Justice Adebiyi convicted the defendant and his company after she found them guilty of a 14-count charge of criminal conversion and theft brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency had arraigned the convict for swindling one Onyeka Okoye of the sum of  N81,250,000 in a phoney oil transaction.

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The EFCC had told the court during the trial that the convict dishonestly converted to their personal use, several sums of monies belonging to their victims, Onyeka Okoye and Chikatina Petroleum Nigeria Limited, being payment for 574,000 litres of Automative Gas Oil (AGO).

The commission had also informed the court that the convict fraudulently presented himself as a petroleum dealer and approached Okoye to supply his company petroleum products with a promise to remit the money into the complainant’s company account, he,, however failed to honour the promise

Their offence is contrary to section 285(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the 14 counts charge when they were arraigned on March 4, 2016.

During the trial, the prosecution called four witnesses while the first defendant testified on his own behalf.

In her judgment, Justice Adebiyi held that the prosecution proved the case against the convict and his company beyond a reasonable doubt.

The judge held, “defendants converted to their use, the various cost of the AGO supplied directly and indirectly to them by the complainant in the 14 count charge to permanently deprive the nominal complainant of the sum of #81,250,000.00.”

The court further held that the convict falsely misled the complainant by promising to pay back from sources which did not exist from the evidence produced by the prosecution.

The court finds the level of culpability of the first defendant to be high as he played a major role in the offence, “also the amount of money involved in the offence was high.

”The harm caused by the defendants was substantial as the offence lead to the foreclosure of the loan obtained by the nominal complaint and ultimately to the death of his wife.

“In applying the totality principle taking into account the severity of the offence, the aggravating and mitigating factors, the court shall under its powers as stipulated in Section 316 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (Repeal and Re-enactment Law 2015) impose a fine on both defendants for all the 14 counts to run concurrently under the provision of Section 316 (2) of the ACJL, 2015,” she held.

Justice Adebiyi imposed a fine of N5 million against the first defendant for all 14 counts, she ordered that if the convict defaulted in payment, it shall attract a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 months on each count.

“The second defendant, company, is hereby also ordered to pay a fine in the sum of N2 million within three months hereof, failing which the Chairman of the Corporate Affairs Commission shall be served a copy of this Order to strike out the name of the Company from the Nigerian Company’s Register.

“The convicts shall make restitution to the nominal complainants; Chikatina Petroleum Limited in the sum of N10 Million within three months, failing which it will attract a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven months”.

Justice Adebiyi also directed that the defendant shall be remanded in custody pending the payments of the fines.

19th April 2024
Nigerian Pantagraph