Court orders two Italians’ arrest over alleged $119m power plant scam

A Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt has ordered the arrest of two Italian nationals, Giandomenico Zingali and Davide Anelli, over their refusal to appear in court to answer criminal charges against them.

They were said to be involved in an alleged $119m power plant fraud.

The court ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Commissioner of Police and other security operatives to arrest them.

Justice Okogbule Gbasam invoked Section 120 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice to order their arrest and directed the IGP, CP and other security agents to produce the Italians in court to face trial in respect of the 16-count charge filed against them by the Rivers State Government.

A certified true copy of the order of arrest was obtained by journalists in Abuja on Friday through Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), who stood in for Rivers State in the matter and moved the motion for the issuance of the bench warrant.

Zingali and Anelli were part of the seven defendants scheduled for arraignment before Justice Gbasam over their alleged complicity in the $119m power plant scam.

The defendants were Saipem SPA, an Italian company; Saipem Contracting Nigeria Ltd; Walter Peviani, Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe, Giandomenico Zingali, Vitto Testaguzza and Davide Anelli who were listed as 1st to 7th defendants respectively.

Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, its Managing Director, Walter Peviani, and four others were accused of conspiracy, fraud, obtaining credit of N7bn by false pretences and cheating.

Details of the charges were conspiracy contrary to Section 518 (6) and (7) and punishable under Section 518; obtaining credit of $130m by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419A and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1) (b)

The offences are also said to have contravened Sections 518 (6) and (7), 419 (A) (1) (b), section 421 of the Criminal Code Law of Rivers State, Cap 37 Vol. 2 Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999.

Saipem and its top management staff are to be prosecuted based on fiat issued to Godwin Obla, George Adeyemi, and John Eche Okpe, Esq both of Obla & co, Abuja by Rivers State Government.

Their arraignment on the 16- count charge marked PHC/3106/CR/2021 was said to have been put off several times by Justice Gbasam due to the failure of some of the defendants to be in Court.

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The enrolled copy of the order reads in part, “Upon this matter coming up for plea today before His Lordship, Hon. Justice Dr. O. Gbasam, sitting at High Court Port Harcourt; and after hearing  the oral application for the activation of the application for the issuance of a bench warrant on the 5th and 7th defendants made by Chief Godwin Obla (SAN), with D.G. Adeyerni, Esq., appearing for the state, on the last adjourned date 14/12/2021 which this court kept In abeyance till today.

“And after hearing the oral response of the opposing counsel, H. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), with Patrick Osu, Akinola Akinyoju, and Shekina Wokoma of counsel for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th defendants, and. A, Akinwole, Esq., with O. Nwogu, Esq., and R.C. Kanu, Esq., for the 4th defendant,

“It is hereby ordered that as follows: that an order of bench warrant be and is hereby issued by virtue of Section 120 of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2015 directing the Inspector- General of Police, the Commissioner of Police and other security agencies to arrest the 5th and 7th defendants – Giandomenico Zingali and Davide Anelli –wherever they are and can be found and produce them before this honourable court to face their trial as per the 16-count charge contained in the amended information dated 19/11/2021.

“The charges are summarised as follows: Conspiracy contrary to Section 518 (6) & (7) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.

“Obtaining credit by false pretences or other fraud contrary to Section 419(A) and punishable under Section 419 (A) (1)(8) of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.

“Attempt to cheat contrary to Section 508 and punishable under Section 509 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2,.Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.

“Conspiracy to receive credit by false pretences contrary to S. 518(6) and punishable under Section 518 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.

“Cheating contrary to Section 421 and punishable under Section 421 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999.”

Meanwhile, Justice Gbasam has adjourned the matter till February 2, 3, and 4 2022.   

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