Federal Judge, Keystone Bank caught in multimillion Naira property fraud, cash theft scandal
Victim petitions National Assembly
Hon. Justice Jeremiah Essien of the National Industrial Court has been accused of perpetrating criminal acts bordering on “gross abuse of office, involving in high profile fraud and land grabbing, and using his office as a judge to facilitate theft/ conversion of filling station, petroleum products and properties.”
Keystone Bank Plc. and its manager, Mr Orok Orok have been named as his accomplice.
The allegations are contained in a petition raised by a private citizen and business man, Mr Udeme Esset of Stratas Resources Limited, dated October 3, 2023, addressed to the Honourable Speaker, House of Representatives, Abuja.
According to the petition, Hon. Justice Essien in concert with officials of Keystone Bank Plc and officers of the Nigeria Police, stormed Stratas Nigeria Limited, No 4 Ekit Itam 11 Village, along Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Highway, Uyo, with an exparte order of the Federal High Court made on 14th June, 2023.
They reportedly chased away the staff and manager “claiming they got judgment from the court over a Deed of Legal Mortgage when the matter is still pending in court and no judgment entered.”
The parent matter between Habib Bank Plc (which was later acquired by Keystone Bank) and the petitioner, instituted in 2002, is yet to be decided.
The petition alleged that Justice Essien used his office to make the Federal High Court, Uyo, to issue the ex parte order “to enable him carry out his premeditated plan of grabbing our client’s filling station.”
It however added that “by virtue of order 26 Rule 10(1) of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rule 2019 under which the said ex parte order was insidiously obtained, the said ex parte order has a lifespan of only 14 days which expired on 28th June, 2023” and therefore invalid to have been enforced.
“The order became stale and was enforced on 1st August, 2023.
“After the invasion, Keystone Bank, Uyo, surprisingly brought some persons, claiming to have bought the entire station including our client’s products who vandalized and stole our client’s products including AGO, LPG, PMS and DPK, our client’s offices and vaults were broken into and money in Naira and hard currencies were stolen among several other properties, facilities of our in its offices and station stolen in the course of the invasion,” the petitioner also lamented.
It gave a breakdown of the losses to include: “28,228 liters of PMS valued N620 per liter = N17,501,360; 29,650 liters of AGO valued at N550 per liter = N16,307,500; 27,650 liters of DPK valued at N800 per liter = N22,120,000; 4,580 tons of LPG gas valued at 750 per tone = N3,435,000; One 20kva generator valued at = N3,800,000.00; One 7500 Generator valued at = N670,000,00; N5,365,000.00 sales cash kept in the office; $ 7,300.00 Dollars cash kept by our client in his office @ N1,000 exchange rate = N7,300,000.00.
“Total theft at the station amounts to: N76,498,860.00 (Seventy-six Million Four Hundred and Ninety-Eight Thousand Eight Hundred and sixty Naira).”
Furthermore, “Hon. Justice Jeremiah Essien claimed that he acted as an agent and bought our client’s filling station for N50,000,000 (Fifty Million Naira) without the knowledge of our client,” adding that “in the course of vandalization of our client’s filling, one Iboro Jacob was caught in the very act of stealing diesel (AGO) aided by the said Hon. Justice Jeremiah Essien who surprisingly showed up claiming to have bought everything in the filling station including our clients products for one Engr. Cyril Atang based in the United Kingdom while action is pending in Court.”
The petition also pointed out that “some of the products at the station are not our client’s exclusive stock but were brought in under partnership with our client’s partners who do their business of products marketing with our client at its station and these have absolutely nothing to do with the said court case.”
Continuing, the petition alleged that the embattled judge has been involved in several land grabbing scandals:
“His story is viral on social media platforms. Recently, a video has surfaced where he went to Jopen Filling Station, Uyo, in an attempt to grab another filling station dressed like a common tout.
“He was chased away and almost beaten up. Such conduct is disgraceful, shameful and unbecoming of a Federal Judge.”
Mr Esset prayed the House of Representatives to “please direct the House Committee on Judiciary to investigate the above petition with a view see that justice is served.”
To avoid possible breakdown of law and order, the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Command, CP Olatoye Duronsimi has urged all parties to maintain peace until the determination of pending suit in court.
Meanwhile, available information has it that Mr Udeme Esset via his legal team is on the verge of petitioning the embattled judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).
A mail sent to Keystone Bank was unanswered about 48 hours before filing this report.
See a copy of the petition to the National Assembly below: