Dare Osamo, Former Managing Director of Star Orient Nigeria Ltd, an aviation fueling company, was arraigned at an Ikeja High Court on Wednesday on an 11 count-charge bordering on fraud to the tune of N1.6 billion.
Mr Osamo pleaded not guilty to an eight-count charge bordering on obtaining under false pretences, stealing and forgery, brought against him by the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
He was also arraigned alongside a female lawyer, Bisola Olore on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining under false pretences. They both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
What happened in court
Mrs Adetutu Oshinusi, the lead prosecution counsel told the court that the defendants committed offences from 2016 to 2019 while acting as officers of Star Orient Nigeria Ltd.
She alleged that the duo signed Star Orient Nig. Ltd board of directors resolution dated January 19, 2016, and presented the document to First City Monument Bank as a consensus of the company for an account opening.
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“The duo fraudulently secured a debenture in the sum of N300 million and fraudulently authorised borrowing of N100 million by Fund Quest Financial Services Ltd against the assets of Star Orient Ltd,” Mrs Adetutu said.
“That resolution authorised the removal of Adegbayemu Nike as the Secretary of Star Orient Nig. Ltd and appointed the co-defendant, Olore, as the Secretary of the company,” she added.
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The offence is a violation of Sections 287(8), 314(3), 365(1) and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2015.
The defence counsel, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN) prayed the court to grant bail to the defendants in liberal terms. He noted that Mr Osamo who is a former MD and shareholder in Star Orient Nig Ltd has been granted administrative bail by a magistrate court and did not abuse it.
According to him, “Even from his sickbed, he walked in to attend this trial. I urge your lordship to grant bail to the applicant.”
Mr Pedro also prayed that Olore be granted bail on the basis that she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
However, the prosecution counsel opposed the application for bail urging the court to consider the nature of the offences allegedly committed by the defendants.
She said, “They are serious offences which carry not less than seven years on each count. The defendants are likely to abscond. We urge the court to deny them bail and grant an accelerated hearing.”
The presiding judge, Justice Oyindamola Ogala granted the first defendant (Osamo) bail in the sum of N20 million and he is to provide two sureties in the like sum.
To the second defendant (Olore), bail was also granted in the sum of N10 million with two sureties in the like sum.
Sureties must provide evidence of their financial status and evidence of landed properties owned in Lagos. Both defendants are also to submit their international passports to the court.
What you should know
Star Orient Nigeria Ltd is an international energy and commodities company with operations across West Africa.
Mr Osamo is accused of unlawfully converting the company’s funds amounting to N1.6 billion to his own use.
He allegedly forged the signature of one Mr Olanrewaju Bamgbose on the company’s board of directors’ resolution dated May 2, 2018.
Mrs Adetutu, the lead prosecution counsel, is a director in DPP.
The matter was adjourned till February 2, 2022, for trial.