One of the oil marketers standing trial for fuel subsidy fraud and the Chief Executive Officer of Fargo Petroleum and Gas Limited, Mr. Seun Ogunbambo, has petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Aloma Maria Mukhtar, over alleged victimisation by Justice S.A. Onigbanjo of Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court.
In the petition dated May 30 and personally signed, Ogunbambo, who recently enlisted former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), in his defence team, noted that when his lawyers applied for bail before the trial judge, he was the only oil marketer connected to the case that was denied bail until the Court of Appeal approved of it.
According to him, he had thought that the basis of denying him bail was because of a prejudicial matter introduced into the bail application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and which involved Stanbic IBTC with respect to a loan that was unrelated to the subsidy matter.
But following out-of-court settlement upon which the bank wrote the EFCC, withdrawing the case, “I had thought that the matter had ended there until in opposing my bail applications in the two suits before Justice Onigbanjo, the complaint of Stanbic IBTC was brought in as basis for opposing the grant of bail to me.
“It appears to me that Justice Onigbanjo has taken a position against me in the pending proceedings before him which goes beyond the prejudicial material introduced by the EFCC and I now sit in the dock (listening to the proceedings and sensing from the questions the judge poses to the prosecution witnesses and the ruling he has given concerning certain documents prepared by the EFCC during the proceedings which my lawyers objected to but which the Honourable Judge nevertheless admitted in evidence against me) with a feeling that my conviction by the Judge for these trumped up charges brought by the EFCC is only a matter of time and not dependent on the strength or otherwise of the case against me.
“The rulings I have referred to above are even child’s play in comparison to the manner in which the Honourable Judge, during the proceedings in these charges, has granted an ex-parte application for the forfeiture of my assets to the Federal Government behind my back and before my guilt had been established.
“My Lord, I have now discovered that a son of one of the judges of the Lagos State High Court, who is the company secretary of a major oil marketing company, is the liaison with Hon. Justice Onigbanjo to ensure that I am convicted.
“I do not find this information incredible because I know that this major oil marketer, who is well connected to the government, has been seeking some way to punish me for his belief that I had a hand in his loss of his valued female friend and business partner, who recently left him for greener pastures. I am also aware that this company secretary of his has been visiting Justice Onigbanjo in recent times for undisclosed reasons.
“I am also privy to information from a close associate of this major oil marketer that he has been boasting that he has sealed my fate with the Lagos State judiciary and has spent a lot of money to this end and that I am destined for at least, 75 years jail sentence. At an appropriate forum and time, I intend to release further evidence and information concerning the identity and activities of the persons mentioned above,” he said.
Ogunbambo, therefore, said it was for that reason that he was constrained to petition the CJN for an investigation of the manner Justice Onigbanjo has handled the criminal proceedings concerning him and the possibility that the judge is working in accordance with a set agenda to send him to prison, irrespective of the strength or otherwise of the prosecution’s case against him.