By Moji Eniola/Lagos
Seven staff of Dangote Sugar Refinery and a businessman were on Monday charged with stealing N451million belonging to the company.
The staff accused of the theft at an Ikeja High Court, are- Musa Sule, Joseph Ukpah, Babatunde Ajao, Chinedu Onyekwere, Ezekiel Omoro, Rahman Alayande and Odion Abugba.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that two other staffers, Zainab Adebanjo and Manir Mohammed are on the run and are being sought after by officers of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi, Lagos.
A businessman, Habib Mande alongside his company El-Habib Property Nigeria Ltd was docked with the refinery staff.
They face an eight-count charge of conspiracy, stealing, forgery and uttering of false documents.
They, however, denied the charge.
According to Mr E.A Jackson, the state prosecutor, the defendants committed the offence between 2012 and 2016 at Dangote Sugar Refinery, Apapa, Lagos.
“Mande, a businessman who previously had dealings with the company conspired with the other defendants and stole N451million, property of Dangote Sugar Refinery.
“On Nov. 30, 2015, Sep. 7, 2015 and April 26, 2016 they forged and uttered false cheque requisition forms with numbers 132243, 132229 and 132279 respectively.
“Their intent was that these documents may be used or acted upon by officers of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc as genuine to the prejudice of the company,” he said.
NAN reports that the company had in a petition to the police dated Nov. 17, 2016 narrated how the alleged theft was discovered during a routine audit on company accounts.
According to the petition, the audit revealed that N67.9m was illegally taken from the company account into the account of El-Habib Property Nigeria Limited, a company belonging to Mande.
Internal investigations within the company allegedly revealed that the company had no pending claims with the sugar refinery and Mande had not been engaged in any business services for the company in recent times.
According to the prosecution, the offences violated Sections 390 (9), 465, 467, 468 and 516 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The vacation judge, Justice Sedotan Ogunsanya noted that the defendants were still on police bail granted by the SFU.
She adjourned the case until Sept. 22 for argument on their bail application