Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 adjourned further hearing of John Warimeme Abebe’s forgery trial to November 26, 2020.
Abebe was arraigned on July 26, 2018, on a four-count charge of forgery, fabricating evidence, using fabricated evidence and attempt to pervert the course of justice by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
One of the count reads: “That you, Dr. John Warimeme Abebe, on or about the 22nd day of June, 2010 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly forged BP Exploration Nigeria Limited’s letter dated 30th November,1995 to Inducon (Nigeria) Limited by inserting in page 2 of the said letter the following words: “Also note that the ‘Buy-Out Option’ only applies to the pre-production stage of the NPIA. The $4m buy-out is thus irrelevant from production of oil in any of our fields” and purported same to have been issued by BP Exploration Nigeria Limited and committed an offence contrary to Section 467 of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.”
Another count reads: “That you, Dr. John Warimeme Abebe, on or about the 22nd day of June, 2010 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, knowingly used a fabricated evidence in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/224/2010 between Dr. John Abebe, Inducon Nigeria Limited and Statoil Nigeria Limited, before the Federal High Court, which evidence was admitted and marked exhibit BB in the said suit and committed an offence contrary to Section 120 (2) of the Criminal Code Cap C17, Law of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003.”
He pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against him.
At the resumed sitting today, Abebe, told the court how he entered into agreement with BP Exploration Nigeria Limited and Statoil (now Texaco). According to him, two different agreements were executed on November 30, 1995, between his company and BP Exploration Nigeria Limited.
He, however, said he found some discrepancies in the agreement, which BP later corrected during the meeting on November 30, 1995, in the UK.
In his response to the allegation that he forged page 2 of the agreement as contained in exhibit 11, Abebe said his children and those of his late siblings all attended schools in the UK and that he also had houses there. Abebe further told the court that he had been maintaining an account with a bank in the UK since he was a student. He, therefore, said that he could not have made the mistake as alleged in page 2 of Exhibit 11 because he was very familiar with the environment.
Earlier, the defence counsel had sought to tender the following documents: the certified true copies of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC documents of Osbourne Chemical Limited; BP/ Statoil Alliance documents; Statoil letter dated November 15, 1991; BP letter dated September 12, 1993; Statoil letter dated July 1997; BP letter of December 10, 1993; Daily Times and Daily Champion publications; BP/Statoil press release of December 23, 1994; BP letter of January 6, 1995 and Minutes of Meeting with Abebe on January 30, 1995, but was opposed by the prosecuting counsel.
However, the documents were admitted in evidence by the court as exhibits D35 to D46.
Justice Dada adjourned to November 26, 2020 for continuation of examination-in-chief by the defence.