Spring Bank: Depositors head to court over N72.6bn fraud
A mild drama yesterday occurred at the premises of the Lagos State Special Offences Court, in Ikeja as a group of Spring Bank depositors stormed the court to stage a protest during the trial of two oil marketers, Yahaya Kwande and Osahon Asemota over an alleged theft of $200 million (N72.6billion) automotive gas products.
According to the protesters, Kwande and Asemota conspired with an international oil company, Trafigura Baheer BV to put the financial status of Spring Bank in the red.
They also alleged that the oil marketers through their action inflicted pains on depositors as the chances of getting their funds back from the bank were fast becoming a tall dream.
The protesters called on the court to do justice in the case by ordering the accused persons to pay back the funds they surreptitiously stole from Spring Bank so that they could get their deposits back.
“All we want is for these oil marketers to pay back the money into the bank. I am a depositor and all attempts to boost my business is becoming difficult because of the actions of these people. The worst part of it is that they are using legal technicalities to delay the matter, ” Benson Edewo, one of the protesters said.
The federal government had instituted a three-count charge of conspiracy to commit a felony, stealing and receiving stolen property against Trafigura, Kwande, Asemota, and their companies Trafigura PTE Limited, Mettle Energy and Gas, Rebrandt Ltd, and Jil Engineering and Oil Services Limited.
The case is being prosecuted by Mr Rotimi Jacobs on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Two weeks ago, when the case came up in court, a prosecutor, Mr Adebisi Adeniyi, told the court how one of the accused persons, Yahaya Kwande, had jumped the administrative bail granted him by EFCC. The other accused person, Asemota, also brought a medical report granted him by a hospital to have a three-day bed rest. This prompted the court to adjourn till November 5 for the arraignment of the accused persons.
When the matter came up, the lawyer to Asemota, Mr Anthony Osa-Orhue Agarunwonyi told the trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada that the health of his client had gotten worse.
He said his client (Asemota) could hardly walk and challenged the lead prosecution counsel to the EFCC to use the instrument at their disposal to verify the health status of Asemota.
He urged the court to grant an adjournment again for him to get better and further provided a copy of the medical report he produced in court at the last adjourned date and said that he would soon file a fresh medical report before the court.
Jacobs, however, reacted to the medical report, calling it “strange” and that it did not disclose any information. Justice Dada reminded the lawyer of his promise to bring his client to court.
The lawyer pleaded with the court to give Asemota more time to recover.
Trafigura was represented in court by Chief Wole Olanipekun, leading his son, Bode, also a senior advocate of Nigeria. Prof Taiwo Osipitan represented the third defendant, Yahaya Kwande.
Justice Dada adjourned the case till November 28, for arraignment and trial of the defendants.
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