Hearing in the criminal trial of the alleged $15 billion Petro Union fraud case resumes today, March 15, 2022, at a Federal High Court in Lagos.
According to a recently issued court hearing notice, the trial court will hold the sitting over two consecutive days and will focus on hearing the remaining witnesses for the prosecution give their evidence.
The criminal charge was filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Petro Union Oil & Gas Limited (Petro Union), its financial consultant, and four of its directors – Abayomi Kukoyi (trading under the name of Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates), Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, and Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze – kicked off in March 2020.
The firm, alongside the other defendants, are facing a thirteen-count charge on sundry criminal acts bordering on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretences, forgery, and fraud levelled against them by the anti-graft agency on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
So far, eight key witnesses have testified before the court, including a former Minister of Finance, a senior officer of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and an ex-Union Bank London Branch executive. These witness in their testimonies revealed how the company and its directors allegedly plotted and conspired to defraud the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of funds to the tune of $15 billion.
When the trial resumes tomorrow, the court is expected to take testimonies from new witnesses including a forensics expert and the EFCC investigating officer.
Once the prosecution concludes its case expectedly this week, it is likely that the defence would be asked to open its case either immediately or at the next adjourned date.