05 July 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made last minute adjustment to a $1.6billion charge it filed against associates of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The commission applied for the exclusion of the names of the former minister and a businessman, Kolawole Akanni Aluko, who were mention in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/121/2016.
Alison-Madueke (said to be at large) was named in count 8 of the charge and accused of “abetting the commission of money laundering,” by the those listed as defendants in the charge.
Aluko (also said to be at large) was accused of engaging in conspiracy and money laundering and fraud.
The EFCC’s decision to exclude Alison-Madueke and Aluko from the charge was informed by the insistence of the trial judge, Justice Binta Nyako that it was impossible to proceed with the arrangement yesterday when the ex-minister and Aluko were not in court and had not been served with the charge.
Justice Binta Murtala Nyako proceeded to strike out the names of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Chief Kolawole Akanni Aluko, from the criminal charges filed against them
While Madueke is recuperating in the United Kingdom, Akanni -Aluko is said to be at large.
Justice Nyako struck out their names after the prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, made an application to that effect.
Alison-Madueke and Akanni-Aluko were initially charged alongside Babajide John Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Ltd, Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere and David Mbanefo for alleged crude oil fraud.
Although prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) argued that the arraignment could be done without Alison-Madueke and Aluko, who were merely mentioned in the charge, but not as defendants, the judge insisted that both names must either be excluded or they be served with the charge and produce in court before arraignment could take place.
Shortly after Jacobs applied for the exclusion of the names of the ex-minister and Aluko from the charge, the judge directed that the charge be read to the defendants.
Those arraigned were businessman, Jide Omokore, former Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC), Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Abiye Membere, Manager, Planning and Commercial of the NNPC, David Mbanefo and twocompanies linked with Omokore – Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.
They were arraigned on a nine-count charge and accused of obtaining under false pretence and engaging in money laundering estimated at about $1,646,140,379.90.
Omokore was alleged to have used the Strategic Alliance Agreement signed between the NPDC and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited to swindle the NPDC and the Nigerian government of monies running into billions of dollars through the lifting of crude oil from some oil wells between March 2013 and May 2014.
The other accused persons who were senior management staff of the NNPC are accused of conspiracy in inducing the NPDC to facilitate the lifting of crude by Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited.
“They were also accused receiving car gifts from Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited.
They pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them.
Following their plea of not guilty, Based on their plea, Jacobs, SAN, asked the court for a date for the commencement of trial.
Following an application from the defence team, Justice Nyako granted bail to the defendants at N50million each with a surety.
The judge said such surety must either be a director in the federal Civil Service or must have a landed property in the jurisdiction of the court.
She adjourned to October 19 for the commencement of trial.