Group drags EFCC to court, demands arrest, prosecution of Aiteo Chairman

A group, Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET), has filed a suit against Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In the suit filed on Friday, the group is seeking the immediate arrest and prosecution of Mr. Benedict Peters.

Peters is currently the Chairman, Aiteo Group of Companies.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/239/2021 and filed at the Federal High Court Headquarters, Abuja, the group stated that it had on February 15, 2021 written a petition to EFCC, urging it to revisit the allegations of various economic crimes against Mr. Benedict Peters within Seven working days with a view to bringing him to book. 

The petition according to the group was to satisfy the legal requirement, the specific demand for performance of statutory duty must be made on a government agency such as EFCC before the Writ of Mandamus can lie against it.

Copy of the petition made available to journalists contain facts that between 2014 till date, Peters allegedly conspired to commit Fraud, Tax Evasion, Corruption and Money Laundering using his Aiteo Group of Companies comprising Aiteo Eastern E & P Company Ltd, Aiteo Energy Limited and Aiteo Energy Resources Ltd. 

The said companies were alleged to have been involved in all major underhand activities in the oil and gas industry that led to the shortfall in Nigeria’s revenue even before President Muhammadu Buhari took over power in May, 2015. 

Also, Mr. Benedict Peters was in the year 2016 alleged to have fronted for Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources regarding a $115 Million (N23 Billion) fraud. 

This sum was said to be bribe given to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through Fidelity Bank Plc during the build-up to the 2015 General Elections. Part of the money was said to have emanated from some oil companies including Northern Belt Gas Company Limited which allegedly gave $60m to Fidelity Bank Plc on behalf of Diezani in form of kickbacks.

Mr. Peters was later found to be behind Northern Belt Gas Company Limited and in fact acted as the sole signatory to its account. 

Mr. Benedict Peters was also alleged to have taken part in the controversial crude oil SWAP deal involving the exchange of crude oil for refined petroleum products in which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) gave out 445,000 barrels of crude per day to nine companies through the Pipelines Product Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC. 

In the Motion Exparte filed pursuant to Order 34 Rule 3 (1) & (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019 CESJET being the Plaintiff/Applicant prayed the Honourable Court for: – “AN ORDER GRANTING LEAVE to the Plaintiff/Applicant to apply for judicial review by way of Order of Mandamus compelling the Defendant to forthwith arrest and prosecute Mr. Benedict Peters (Chairman, Aiteo Group of Companies) over pending economic crimes bordering on Conspiracy, Fraud, Tax Evasion, Corruption and Money Laundering based on petition dated 15th February, 2021 submitted by the Plaintiff/Applicant to the Defendant and attached as EXHIBIT CESJET 1”.

The group said it has decided to approach the Court at this time on the consolation that nobody howsoever highly placed is above the law and there is no limitation to criminal prosecution in Nigeria.

CESJET wondered why the Federal Government of Nigeria is doing everything possible to reposition the economy even in the face of dwindling crude oil prices and some unscrupulous elements masquerading as businessmen are hell bent on dragging the country backward through sheer corruption, stealing, sabotage and mischief.

In addition, the group promised to hold a World Press Conference next week to brief the media and international community more concerning the suit. 

Meanwhile, no date has yet been fixed for hearing of the Motion Exparte. 

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