$4m fraud: John Abebe pleads not guilty

Two foreigners, Mr Paul Piche,  a Norwegian and Ms Charlene Cross,  a Briton, on Tuesday told an Ikeja Special Offences Court how  Mr John Abebe the brother of late Stella Obasanjo,  the former first lady of Nigeria allegedly forged documents to perpetuate  $4Million fraud.

Abebe is facing  a four-count charge of forgery, fabricating evidence, using fabricated evidence and attempt to pervert the cause of justice before Justice Mojisola Dada.

Abebe however denied the charges which were proffered against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

During  proceedings,  Piche who was led in evidence by EFCC prosecuting counsel  Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, revealed to the court how the alleged forgery of a Net Profit Interest Agreement (NPIA) by Abebe was unravelled by Statoil Nigeria.

According to him, Dr Abebe in 2010 tendered a copy of the amendment letter between themselves (Inducon) and BP Exploration dated 1995.

He said Statoil made enquiries from BP Exploration  about the original amendment letter from 1995, which was provided to his company from BP Exploration.

“When we made comparisons of the letter we received and the one that was tendered at the Federal High Court by Inducon and Dr Abebe we saw that there were a number of inconsistencies between the two versions,” he said.

Piche who was shown the original and the allegedly forged NPIA document revealed the discrepancies in the two documents.

He said; “Annexure two is the forged amendment letter tendered by Inducon and Annexure three is the genuine version of the amendment letter that we received.

“In  Annexure three,  the paragraph for the $4Million dollar buyout for production of oil does not exist but it exist in Annexure two.

He said: “In Annexure two the address of the National Westminster Bank which is in 2A Charing Cross Road is all on one line whereas if you look at Annexure three,  the same address is in two lines.

“The postcode of the address of the of National Westminster is WCTUH0PE with a Zero while on the Annexure Two the postcode  is WCTHUHOPE with the letter O which is a wrong postcode.

“In Annexure two at the parenthesis,  instead of i.e, capital L and a lower case e whereas in Annexure three,  in the parenthesis you will see a lower case i and a lower case e”.

Piche also revealed to the court that the paragraphs of page two of the forged document were not justified compared to the original where all the paragraphs were justified.

He informed the court that following the discovery,  Statoil petitioned the EFCC and laid a complaint December 14, 2016 at the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

He said they also petition the EFCC asking the agency to investigate the matter.
“On December 14, 2016 we laid a complaint at the State House office of the Vice President because it was obvious to us that the amendment letter has been forged.

“We sent copies of the letter to the Honourable Office of the Vice President as well as the Honourable Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation,” he said.

Under cross-examination  by Mr E.D, Onyeke,  a member of Abebe’s defence team,  Piche admitted to have no knowledge of forensics.

He said he has a Bsc in Economics  from the University of Warwick and a Masters degree in Economics from the London School of Economics.

“I’m not a forensic document examiner,  I cannot tell the type of font used in the document,” he said.



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