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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described as sheer blackmail allegations against one of its lead prosecutors, Rotimi Jacobs.
The anti-graft agency said that alleged £2.5 billion fraud case against Mr Jacob’s is being masterminded by a group of 27 lawyers.
This was disclosed in a statement the agency’s spokesman, Tony Orilade, who said the lawyers in a petition addressed to the national executive of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) alleged that Jacobs was using the anti-graft agency to intimidate them for winning a monetary suit against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Union Bank of Nigeria Plc.
The Commission said the allegations are “false and misleading”.
“For the purpose of clarity, the purported £2.5billion is a fictitious fund Petro Union Oil drew against an account in Barclays Bank( United Kingdom) through a cheque issued in 1994,” the EFCC said.
“The company made a fraudulent attempt to present the cheque for clearing through Union Bank but enquiries made by Union Bank at Barclays Bank showed that the account against which the cheque was drawn was closed in 1989, five years before the cheque was presented in Lagos for clearing.
“Besides, the company had also been voluntarily dissolved by its promoters in the United Kingdom. The same promoters are the mastermind of Petro Union oil.
“For some inscrutable reasons, Petro Union Oil was able to procure a court judgment for the £2.5billion against the CBN and Union Bank on the basis of an alleged CBN Statement of Account when it is elementary that the CBN, like all Central Banks across the world, does not maintain accounts for private entities.
The EFCC stated that it had filed a counter-motion against the company and its directors.
“Based on the foregoing, the EFCC filed a 7-count charge against Petro Union oil and its directors and trial is ongoing at the Federal High Court.”
“It should be pointed out that, the publication alleging intimidation and harassment by the lawyers is a desperate attempt by the shady elements and their promoters to divert attention from their ongoing trial and frustrate the EFCC in its determination to rid the country of corrupt and manipulative elements, including the lawyers and other professionals who lent their names to aid the fraud, ” it said.
“Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, is a highly respected member of the legal profession who has worked assiduously in conjunction with the EFCC to secure convictions of many notable convicts in the society.
“The EFCC will not be deterred from its avowed goal and is considering filing a complaint against these desperate lawyers with the appropriate organ of the legal profession.”