By Francis Tim Mbom
The National Oil Refining Company Ltd, SONARA, has dragged the General Manager of Douala-based African Petroleum Consultancy, APC, Dr. Alexandre Ekollo Moundi, to the Limbe Magistrate Court for false pretence, fraud, forgery and other charges.
In the suit No. LM/49B/2003, six criminal charges have been pressed against Dr. Moundi.
Count one of the charge holds that “... Ekollo Moundi Alexandre, on or about the 20th of October, 1995, at Limbe..., by false pretence, as Director of African Petroleum Consultants,” falsely presented himself as the authorised representative of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in Cameroon and “attempted to cause loss to the National Refining Company, SONARA, to the tune of FCFCA 2,059,970,253.”
The offence is said to be contrary to Section 318 (1) (c) as read with section 94 (1) of the penal code.
Genesis On October 20, 1995, Dr. Moundi signed a contract with the former General Manager of SONARA, late Bernard Eding, to supply to the latter, as the representative of the NNPC in Cameroon, a good quantity of crude oil worth FCFCA 2.059 billion.
According to the terms of the contract, a copy which The Post procured, Moundi of APC, as authorised representative of NNPC, (seller) was to supply SONARA (buyer), two different types of crude - bonny light and brass river.
As per Article 4 of the document, NNPC exclusively via its representative, APC, was consigned to supply 400,000 barrels of bonny light at 2.25 dollars per barrel between November 16 to 18, supposedly of that same year, and brass river of the same quantity and price per barrel from November 24 to 27, supposedly, too, of that same year.
The document does not state the year the said supplies were to be done.
The terms of payment were that the buyer (SONARA), as a measure to guarantee payment, was to open a security account with the buyer’s own bankers and the said account to bear the buyer’s name. Then the buyer had to deposit a block sum of US$500,000 dollars that is FCFA 250,000,000 at the exchange of one dollar for FCFA 500.
When the said account had been opened, the buyer was, still by the terms of the contract, to inform the seller through APC, 15 days before delivery. The buyer had to do this with the help of the following address: NNPC, Crude Marketing Department, Lagos.
The buyer was also to open “an irrevocable, confirmed, divisible and transferable letter of credit” in five days before delivery with an “approved first class international bank” by the seller (NNPC/APC).
The said credit letter (bond) was to be opened in US dollars and had to bear an amount equivalent to the cost of the crude to be delivered.
Article 17 of the 24-point agreement stated that the contract was subject to the laws of England and in the event of any dispute, the parties in the contract were to seek the legal intervention of some un-named three persons in London whose arbitration or of any two of them, was to “be final and binding on both parties without recourse to appeal.”
The document was duly signed on October 20, 1995, and was certified on October 24 in Douala by Senior Police Superintendent, Richard Mbonde Anyama.
According to a telex message dated October 20, 1995, sent to the APC, the Shipping and Terminal Crude Oil Department of NNPC, the Director of this Department, Dr. Taiwo Idemudia, declared their readiness to trade in the requested quantities of 400,000 barrels of bonny light crude and 400,000 barrels of brass river crude.
For some reasons, SONARA is said to have breached the contract. One of the counsels for Moundi, Barrister Monono Ngale, told The Post that SONARA failed to open the letter of credit as was required by the agreement.
Moundi took SONARA before the court in London for breach of contract. The London court ruled in his favour on April 2002 and SONARA was ordered to pay him damages worth FCFA 2 billion and above 74 million. This ruling is said to have been endorsed by the Fako Court which ordered execution.
But SONARA instead dragged Moundi to court charging him of having deceived the General Manager at the time;
“That you, Ekollo Moundi Alexandre... influenced the General Manager of SONARA to issue a ‘Letter of Intent’ dated October 18 to purchase crude oil from NNPC via APC... by falsely stating that as Director of African Petroleum Consultants (were) representing NNPC.
SONARA’s charges against Moundi are based on the strength of a counter letter sent to the former Attorney General of the Southwest, Justice Ben Duala Ekoko, on August 28, 2002.
Ekoko is said to have, after SONARA failed to honour the London ruling, been designated by the Ministry of Justice alongside some SONARA staffers, to carry out an investigation into the matter.
Apparently, doubts about APC being the designated representatives of NNPC in Cameroon emerged along the line.On August 28, 2002, Aminu Baba-Kusa, Manager of the Crude Oil Marketing Department of NNPC, wrote to Justice Ekoko thwarting Dr. Moundi’s claims of being their representative in Cameroon.
“We did not authorise the APC and Dr. Ekollo Moundi or anybody or organisation to represent the NNPC in any contract between the NNPC and SONARA Limbe Cameroon for the sale and purchase of Nigerian crude oil,” the letter stated.
Aminu’s letter further stated that by its very tradition, it does not assign authority to representatives or agents but deals directly with their clients. The letter also refuted that NNPC ever sent any telex approving their readiness to sell or consign crude oil to SONARA via APC.
Dr. Taiwo, who is quoted in the approval telex message of October 20, 1995, is said, by Aminu, to have been, at the time being, Group General Manager of Crude Oil Marketing Department and not Manager of the Shipping and Terminal Department as stated by the telex supposedly sent by him.
He further stated that the matter should be considered as a classic case of fraud perpetrated by APC and its agent, Dr. Moundi. Dr. Moundi is presently in detention at the Judicial Police in Buea. He is said to have been nabbed by security elements last August 13, in Douala and ferried to Buea.