…says decision was based on worldwide freezing order
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Trial of an ally to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, Mr. Jide Omokore, resumed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, with a bank official, Mr. Adedayo Adesanmi, revealing why the defendant was barred from withdrawing money from different accounts linked to his companies.
Adesanmi, who is a Senior Manager with the Stanbic IBTC Plc, said his bank froze accounts belonging to Omokore’s firms, following “a worldwide freezing order” he said was placed on all accounts where proceeds of sales of Federal Government’s crude oil were allegedly diverted.
The witness told the court that he was the Relationship Manager for accounts that Omokore’s two firms operated with his bank.
He testified as the fourth prosecution witness, PW-4, in the ongoing trial of the oil mogul who was accused of complicity in the illegal diversion of about $1.6billion, being part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the government.
Omokore is facing trial alongside the former Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, Victor Briggs, former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the NNPC, Abiye Membere, former Manager, Planning and Commercial of the NNPC, David Mbanefo.
Two of Omokore’s companies, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited, were also cited as defendants in the matter.
The defendants are answering to a nine-count criminal charge the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against them.
The court had earlier struck out the name of the former Petroleum Minister, Deziani, which was reflected in count eight of the charge, based on the fact that she was not properly joined as a party to the suit.
Meanwhile, led in evidence by the lead prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the witness, told the court that Omokore’s two companies both maintained a naira an dollar accounts with his bank.
He explained how the funds were paid into separate dollars accounts of the two companies by Glencore, London.
Under re-examination by EFCC lawyer, Adesanmi said: “The bank got a worldwide freezing order. There were also negative press generated by the accounts and frequent invitation from security agencies because of the accounts.”
Earlier during cross-examination by the defence lawyer, Mr. Adeniyi Adegbonmire, SAN, the witness confirmed that all the accounts were freezed by the bank.
The witness who acknowledged that payments into the accounts were “proceeds of sales of crude oil”, further admitted that nothing on the statements of accounts described the entries as such.
He also told the court that he made two statements to the EFCC, the second being made on November 8, 2017.
He said it was correct that the transactions as recorded by him in his statement to the EFCC “followed a normal banking transaction”, saying he never had any cause to query any of the accounts for money laundering activities before the charges against the defendants were filed.
Meantime, EFCC tendered statements of the four accounts and other relevant documents including the ones dealing with the incorporation of the two companies, account opening packages and instruction mandates authorising various transactions on the accounts.
The court admitted the documents as exhibits without any objection from the defence lawyers, following which the witness gave a breakdown of how a total sum of $563,983,556.53 was paid between the period of June 2013 and July 2014 into the dollar account of Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, a firm which he said was incorporated on February 5, 2013.
Trial Justice Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned further hearing on the matter till today (Thursday).
It will be recalled that Justice Binta Nyako who previously presided over the case, had in a ruling on July 4, 2016, granted the defendants bail to the tune of N50million each.
Aside ordering the defendants to deposit N50m each, the court said each of them must produce a surety who must either be a senior civil servant or must have a landed property.
It said the sureties must depose to an affidavit of means, adding that the defendants must deposit their international passport and other travelling documents with the court.
Some of the charge against the defendants read: “That you, Olajide Jones Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Ltd and Kolawole Akanni Aluko (now at large) between May and October, 2013, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, by false pretence and with intent to defraud, induced the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria to deliver to you 5, 652, 227 barrels of crude oil (Brass blend) valued at the sum of US $ 616, 013, 615.27, through the medium of contact (Strategic Alliance Agreement) which delivery was induced by false pretence to wit: the representation that you have technical competence, professional skills and funds (both local and foreign) necessary to support NPDC in petroleum operation for the OML 60, 62, 62 and 63 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act CAP A6 2010 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.
“That you, Olajide Jones Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Ltd and Kolawole Akanni Aluko (now at large) between May 2013 and March 2014, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court obtained by false pretence and with intent to defraud 7, 551, 867 barrels of crude oil (Brass blend) valued at the sum of US$ 823, 075, 189.95 from Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the false pretence that you had funds (both local and foreign) necessary to support the Nigerian Petroleum Company Ltd in Petroleum operation for the OML 60, 61, 62 and 63 and you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other fraud related offences Act CAP A6 2010 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.