Expressing dissatisfaction with Petro Union’s victory at the Federal High Court, Abuja and Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court will tomorrow resume hearing of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) appeal seeking to set aside a £2.556billion judgment debt awarded Petro Union Oil and Gas Company Ltd.
The banks have alleged that Petro Union in 1994 fraudulently procured a cheque from a branch of Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom (UK) with a value of £2.556bn and presented it at one of Union Bank’s branches in Lagos, with a claim that it had a contract to construct two refineries, a fertilizer plant and a cement paper bag plant.
They alleged that Union Bank’s investigation at the time revealed that the Cheque/Bill or Instrument dated December 29, 1994, for £2,556bn drawn in favour of Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates was confirmed by Barclays’ Bank to be fake.
They further claimed that Gazeaft Ltd, the drawers of the bill of exchange for the £2.556bn, was confirmed by Barclays Bank not to have an account with Barclays and was not on the list of Registered Companies in the UK by the Companies Registry in the UK.
But that Petro Union maintained its claim that UBN received the sum of £2,556,000,000 on its behalf and transferred £2,159,221,318.54 to the CBN while retaining £396,778,681.46.
Petro Union’s demands were then followed by court actions against the CBN and Union Bank based on these claims.
In the appeal before the apex court, the CBN and UBN are praying the apex court to quash the lower courts’ decisions on the grounds, among others, that Petro Union’s claim to the sum was allegedly based on fraud.
The banks are contending that Petro Union allegedly obtained two judgments at the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal based on facts that were not only predicated on falsehood but which have criminal implications.
The appellants averred that these facts, if not carefully dissected by the Supreme Court, may occasion a miscarriage of justice capable of ruining the nation’s fledgeling economy.
They further averred that the judgment obtained by Petro Union at the Federal High Court in 2014 for £2.556 billion also carries an interest of 15 per cent per annum from 22nd June 1995 until payment.
Today, that judgment sum together with interest is over £12 billion (about $15.5 billion) – 50 per cent more than the award in the Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) case and represents 44 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
They further claimed that the truth of the alleged fraud had been uncovered following the arrest, detention and ongoing prosecution of Petro Union and its officers at a Federal High Court in Lagos.
On February 13, 2020, Justice Mohammed Liman remanded four Petro Union directors over alleged £2.556b fraud.
The judge made the order following their arraignment on a seven-count charge of fraud preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The charge is marked FHC/L/46c/2020.