Judge absence stalls FG’s suit against Omokore, Aluko

 

high-court-lagos
Federal High Court, Lagos

The absence Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of Federal High Court, Lagos, on Friday stalled the resume hearing of Federal Government’s suit; seeking recovery of 1.8 billion dollars from two oil companies.

The companies are Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nig. Ltd, (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd (AEBD).

Even though Justice Oguntoyinbo sat in the morning to deliver rulings, and entertain other matters, the court, however, rose, as she had to be away on official assignment and further adjourned till Nov. 23.

Joined as co-defendants in the suit are; Jide Omokore and Kolawole Aluko, Chairman and Director of the two companies, respectively.

In the suit, Omokore, Aluko and the two companies, are said to owe the Federal Government, approximately 1.8 billion dollars for crude oil lifted under a Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAT) between them.

The government had sometimes in 2016, alongside the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC) and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), dragged the defendants to court.

Government had urged the court to restrain the defendants and their agents from demanding or receiving payments from 19 commercial banks in Nigeria, eight offshore banks, and eight other companies listed before the court.

The applicants in an affidavit sworn to by one Kehinde Oginni, averred that Omokore, Aluko and the two companies are indebted to government.

He averred that the defendants by virtue of the SAT agreement were granted licence to lift crude oil and other associated products in Nigeria for sale and for parties to share the profits in agreed terms.

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He averred that the defendants lifted and sold the crude oil and have been paid, but deliberately, refused to pay the government, and unlawfully diverted the profits share of 1.8 billion dollars due to the government to their private use.

The deponent listed the diversions as follows:

“Several vehicles with combined value of over N800 million were purchased by the defendants and donated to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through its National Chairman, Prince Secondus.

“Additional vehicles valued at over N130 million were purchased by the defendants and distributed to former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Dieziani Alison-Maduekwe, and some other managerial staff of NPDC.”

He also stated that 18 million dollars and N1.1 million were paid to FBN Mortgages Ltd by Aluko as part payment for Block A, consisting of 26 Flats at 46 Gerrard Road Ikoyi Lagos purchased at a total cost of N5 billion

The deponent also stated that payment of 25 million dollars and N95 million were made to Real Bank for the purpose of part financing the acquisition of AEDC and AEBD companies’ property as well as renovation of some properties.

The deponent had consequently urged the court, to issue a Mareva Order, restraining the defendants from dissipating all known assets directly or indirectly, including but not limited to assets listed on the face of the motion paper before the court.

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After hearing the submission of applicant’s counsel, Justice Oguntoyinbo had issued an order restraining the defendants and their agents from transacting with the assets of the defendants in banks, houses, land and shares in Nigeria and others located outside Nigeria.

The banks were ordered to sequestrate all monies and negotiable instruments standing to the credit of the defendants in the sum of 1.8 billion dollars, and keep same in an interest yielding account, pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The court had also ordered that the ruling should be served on the affected parties through advertisement in Newspapers circulating within and outside the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The defendants in the interim had appealed the ruling and filed a motion seeking a stay of proceedings in the suit.