General News of 2014-06-19

I suffered humiliation at the hands of EOCO - Witness tells court

A witness in the legal fight over the ownership of $391,250 has enumerated how she suffered humiliation for two weeks at the hands of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).

The Managing Director of Auxesia Energy Limited, Mrs Faith A. Odulu, said the company’s account was frozen without any notification from the EOCO.

Aside from that, she said EOCO failed to give her audience for two weeks, although she was honouring an invitation to report at the EOCO.

Last Tuesday, led by her lawyer, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, to justify why the $391,250 which was withdrawn from her company’s account be returned, she indicated how she had to use influential people to gain audience with the EOCO.

According to the witness, the Deputy Director of EOCO informed her and her Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Bola J. Olorunsaiye, that the company had committed serious crimes but never specified the type of crime.

Background

Auxesia Energy Limited, Soleushing Nigeria and Soleushing UK are laying claim to the $391,250. Soleushing Nigeria is arguing that its vessel was used by Auxesia Energy Limited’s client, Earth Petroleum to cart Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) from Nigeria to Ghana. Based on that, the company is demanding that the money must be paid to it.

But Soleushing UK is insisting the vessel does not belong to Soleushing Nigeria. It has even gone ahead to accuse Soleushing Nigeria of stealing the vessel.

Auxesia Energy Limited, on the other hand, is arguing that it did not transact business with the two companies, and is, therefore, praying the court to order the return of the money into its account.

Existence of EOCO

Mrs Odulu told the court that she got to know the existence of the EOCO for the first time in June 2013 when she went to withdraw money from the company’s account at the UT Bank only to be told that the account had been frozen by the EOCO.

As part of her company’s resolve to find out why the account was frozen, Mrs Odulu said her company wrote to the UT Bank and a company by name Lushann International Energy Limited to arrange a meeting with EOCO to demand why the account was frozen.

Mrs Odulu said her company finally had audience with EOCO after several previous attempts had yielded no results.

At the said meeting, the witness said she was made to explain how Auxesia Energy Limited came across Earth Petroleum.

She said she explained how her company and Earth Petroleum signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Earth Petroleum for the supply of 16,676 metric tonnes of LPFO.

In the said agreement, Chief Christopher Isiboi, signed on behalf of Earth Petroleum, while the CEO of Auxesia Energy Limited, Mr Bola J. Olorunsaiye, initialled on behalf of Auxesia Energy Limited.

Soleushing not party to agreement

Asked if Soleushing Nigeria and Soleushing UK were parties to the SPA, Mrs Odulu answered in the negative and explained that Earth Petroleum was to supply the LPFO, as well as pay for the charter of the vessel, which was billed to discharge the LPFO at Saltpond.

“Funny events”

Describing the events that occurred after the arrival of the LPFO as “funny,” Mrs Odulu told the court that Earth Petroleum had challenges with the crew members, who demanded payment before the discharge of the product.

She said Chief Isiboi informed her that the crew members were agitating that they had not been paid salaries for six months and, therefore, pleaded with her company to make a financial commitment to meet the demands of the crew members. Following from that, Mrs Odulu said she got in touch with UT Bank which agreed to allow her to issue a $391,250 cheque in favour of Earth Petroleum. She further explained that Auxesia Energy Limited had made previous payments to Earth Petroleum.

EOCO not party to suit

Earlier, an investigator with the EOCO, Mr Patrick Kofi Awoonor, told the court during cross examination that he was not aware that there was a suit pending at the Commercial Court over the ownership of the vessel that transported the LPFO. Asked by Mr Dubik Yakubu Mahama, counsel for Soleushing UK, if his outfit liaised with the Cape Coast Police to investigate a report over the alleged stealing of the vessel by Soleushing Nigeria, Mr Awoonor replied in the negative.

The investigator said his outfit had not liaised with the Nigerian Maritime Authority over the alleged misconduct of the vessel that carted the LPFO. Mr Awoonor said he did not investigate the origin of the vessel, although it was claimed to have come from Nigeria.

Hearing continues on June 20, 2014.