A Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja on Thursday ordered billionaire businessman, Mr. John Abebe be remanded in Ikoyi Prison for alleged forgery in a crude oil deal.
He was charged on 4 counts bothering on forgery and intent to mislead.
Mr Abebe entered a “Not guilty” plea when the charges were read to him in court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo.
The EFCC in the indictment alleged that the businessman “knowingly forged” a November 30, 1995 letter written by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited to Inducon (Nigeria) Ltd.
It said Mr. Abebe “illegally inserted” into page 2 of the said letter the following statement: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the NPIA. The $4m buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of oil in any of our fields.”
According to the EFCC, Mr. Abebe also attempted to “pervert the course of justice” by tendering the allegedly forged November 30, 1995 letter “as a fabricated evidence” in court, in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/224/2010 between Dr. John Abebe, Inducon Nigeria Limited and Statoil Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC accused him of making an attempt to “mislead the court” by using fabricated evidence, contrary to Section 120 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
The EFCC prosecutor told the court that by attempting to pervert the course of justice, Abebe violated Section 126 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
The prosecutor added that forgery was a violation of Section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.
Justice Mojisola Dada, while adjourning the case to enable the defence counsel, Mr. Uche Nwokedi (SAN), to file an application for his client’s bail, ordered that Abebe be remanded in Ikoyi Prison.
Abebe, his company Inducon have been locked in a lengthy litigation against British Petroleum (BP) and Statoil over disputes arising from profit sharing in the latter’s oil exploration and production profits in Nigeria.