Eze, 32, reportedly siphoned adulterated oil into empty Total Oil Company jerry cans and branded them with the company’s label – Total Quartz.
Sunday PUNCH learnt that Eze sold the fake product wholesale to his accomplice customers in Oyo and Anambra states at prices below the market rate.
It was gathered that his illegal business reached a dead head when a police team from Area D, Command, Mushin, intercepted a printer with about 700 empty jerry cans bearing the Total labels.
The printer, one Joshua, reportedly told the operatives that Eze engaged him to print the labels.
A police source told our correspondent that another 110 jerry cans of different litre sizes were recovered from Eze’s shop in Iyana Ishashi.
“The printer was intercepted on a motorcycle during a routine patrol and he led the police to Eze’s shop where he was arrested. He said Eze owed him N50, 000 balance for the printing of the Total labels,” the source said.
Eze told the police that he learnt how to produce engine oil sometime in 2017 from one Stephen at Marine Beach, Apapa, and started his own production after four months of apprenticeship.
He said, “I came to Lagos in 2016 and secured employment at a company on Victoria Island. At the time, I used to buy engine oil from street traders and sold it in Apapa. In 2017, I learnt how to produce adulterated Total Quarts oil for four months and early 2018, I started my own business.
“On February 5, 2019, I saw the printer with some policemen. He was my customer who helped me print Total Quartz labels. I asked him to produce 2,000 pieces and paid him N50, 000. I kept all the materials I used in my shop.
“I bought the Total jerry cans I used from a truck driver. I would put the oil I produced inside them and seal. I sold one litre engine oil for N450 and the big one (five litres) N1, 600. On many occasions, I sold at wholesale at Ibadan (Oyo State) and Nnewi (Anambra State).”
Eze was arraigned on Wednesday at an Ikeja magistrates’ court on four counts bordering on forgery and adulteration.
A police officer, privy to the details of the case, stated that the printer would be used as the prosecution witness in the case based on the advice of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
The charges read in part, “That you, Nnamdi Eze of Badagry Expressway, Ilaje bus stop, Lagos, and others now at large, in February 2019, at 6.40pm, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony to with forgery and adulteration of petroleum products, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
“That you, Nnamdi Eze and others now at large, on the same date, time and place in the aforementioned magisterial district, did forge Total Quartz labels without lawful authority, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 363 (2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”
Eze, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and elected summary trial.
The presiding Chief Magistrate, Aje Afunwa, granted him bail in the sum of N200, 000 with two sureties in like sum. The case was adjourned till April 16, 2020 for mention.
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