After four years of trial, two businessmen, Ogbor Eliot and Kelvin Chris, have been acquitted of the N1.8bn fraud allegation.
According to The Punch, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos, on Friday delivered the verdict.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had arraigned the duo alongside Danium Energy Services Limited on October 22, 2018.
EFCC accused Eliot and Chris of using Danium Energy Services Limited to deceive Sterling Bank Plc to lend them money to finance a Local Purchase Order for 20,000 Metric Tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil for supply to Total Nigeria Limited.
The defendants pleaded “not guilty,” following which trial commenced.
On August 5, 2022, the court adjourned till Friday for judgment.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Friday, the court upheld Ogbor and Chris’ contention that the charge should not have been brought in the first place.
Justice Taiwo held that the EFCC failed to establish any element of criminality against the defendants, adding that the transaction which led to the charge was of a civil nature that could have been resolved by the complainant and the defendants.
Eliot and Chris were freed of the entire five counts bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, conspiracy and forgery.
Justice Taiwo held, “I have examined the evidence of the prosecution as well as that of the defence. It is clear to me that the issue here is civil in nature which could have been resolved in a civil matter.
“There is no element of criminality in a loan duly guaranteed by a tank farm in Akwa Ibom State own by first defendant.
“I find and hold that the prosecution have failed to establish any element of criminality against the defendants here. Accordingly they are hereby discharged and acquitted,” the judge said.