Seven employees of Dangote Sugar Refinery Company and a businessman were on Monday hauled up before an Ikeja High Court over alleged theft of N451 million belonging to the company.
The accused 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 staff members — Zainab Adebanjo and Manir Mohammed — now on the run, are being hunted by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi, Lagos.
A businessman, Habib Mande, alongside his company — El-Habib Property Nigeria Ltd — was also arraigned with the staffers.
They are facing an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, forgery and uttering of false documents.
The accused, however, denied all the charges.
The prosecutor, Mr E.A. Jackson, said the defendants committed the offences between 2012 and 2016 at Dangote Sugar Refinery Company, Apapa, Lagos.
“Mande, a businessman, who has previously had dealings with the company, conspired with the other defendants and stole N451 million, property of Dangote Sugar Refinery.
“On Nov. 30, 2015, Sept. 7, 2015 and April 26, 2016, they forged and uttered false cheque requisition forms with numbers 132243, 132229 and 132279, respectively.
“Their intention 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 of the company’s accounts.
According to the petition, the audit revealed that N67.9 million was illegally taken from the company’s account and paid into the account of El-Habib Property Nig. Ltd., a company belonging to Mande.
Internal investigations within the company had 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 applications.