$1.8bn Oil Debt: Court to Hear FG’s Suit against Omokore, Aluko Nov. 23
A Federal High Court in Lagos will resume hearing of Federal Government’s suit seeking recovery of 1.8 billion dollars from two oil firms in Nigeria on Nov. 23.
The companies are Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nig. Ltd, (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd (AEBD).
Joined as co-defendants in the suit are; Jide Omokore and Kolawole Aluko, Chairman and Director of the two companies, respectively.
The case, earlier slated for Friday was further adjourned till Nov. 23.
Although, the trial judge, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, had sat in the morning to deliver rulings, and entertain some matters, the court, however, rose, as she had to be away on official assignment.
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 Mr 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.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, the defendants had appealed the ruling and filed a motion seeking a stay of proceedings in the suit.
Apart from the pending application for stay, there is also a pending application filed by a Limited Liability Company, Virtual Properties and Investment Ltd as an intervener.
The intervener is urging the court to discharge or vary its order, as it relates to Marion Apartments, on the grounds that the property known as Marion Apartments consists of 56 apartments owned and developed by the intervener.
It added that by virtue of two separate deeds of sublease, the intervener conveyed its interest in 43 out of the 56 apartments to Realblanc Energy Engineering Ltd, an affiliate company of the defendants.
The intervener says it still retains ownership of 13 out of the 56 apartments in Marion Apartments.
It avers, therefore, that the order of the court is prejudicial to its interest, and interferes with its right of ownership over these flats