Efforts by Mr. Olajide Omokore, an ally of former petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to recover his properties forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, hit a brickwall on Monday, as a Federal High Court, in Lagos struck out a suit filed to that effect.
Omokore had filed the suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking to secure the release of his properties temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria by a court order.
When the matter was mentioned, Omokore’s lawyer, O. Achimiwu told the court that his client seeks to discontinue the matter against the EFCC.
He, however, did not state any reason for the discontinuance as there was no legal representation for EFCC.
Consequently, the presiding Judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun struck out the case.
Omokore, in an affidavit sworn to in support of the suit, by a lawyer, Tosin Samuel Alawode and filed before the court by R. A. Lawal-Rabana (SAN), the deponent averred that the allegations levied against Omokore and two companies Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited which he has vested interest by the EFCC are in relation to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited allegations of breach of specific terms of the contract agreement embodied in a Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAA), between the two companies and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited in respect of 8 oil blocks.
The deponent stated that under the SAA the companies were obliged to render some services to the Nigerian Petroleum Development company and also remit some monies accruing from the services to the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Petroleum company.
It was averred by the deponent that the contract agreement was on-going and being performed until it was alleged that the companies were in default of certain sums of remittances,
Based on the differences and disagreement over remittances, parties were already in the process of agreeing on the terms of unremitted payment to resolve the issue, when EFCC waded into the matter and said it was investigating the contract agreement, which was contrary to the provisions under SAA for parties to go to arbitration to resolve their differences.
The deponent further averred that the intervention of EFCC scuttled all effort to resolve the differences amicably. Subsequently, he was invited and interrogated by the EFCC, and thereafter, arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The deponent averred further that before the companies entered into the SAA, Omokore was already a successful businessman in Oil and Gas sector and had acquired assets and properties legitimately, and that he acquired all the assets, properties and documents listed before the court and not from any proceed of illegality or violation of any law, in the course of investigation his residence/office was raided by the official of the agency and under the guise of exercising their power carted away and seized all the items listed before the court, some of the assets, properties and documents belong to his wife while some belong to staff of the companies and his associates, none of whom is being investigated or charged along with him in connection with the allegation against him.
The deponent stated that after he has written a letter to EFCC through his Solicitors Aluko and Oyebode, demanding the release of all the items but the EFCC has failed to respond till date.
Omokore contended that the properties are not and cannot be classified as proceed of any violation of the EFCC Act or any of other law such that could be attached having been acquired legitimately before the SAA leading to the allegations.
Consequently, in the interest of Justice and fairness Omokore urged the court for a declaration that EFCC cannot under the guise of section 28 and 29 of EFCC Act seize and forfeit his assets to Federal Government. And a Declaration that a dispute arising from an allegation of a breach of contract particularly, failure of a party to discharge his/her obligation and or indebtedness to an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria under Specific contract Agreement, cannot be classified as a financial crime
He also sought an order directing EFCC to release and return forthwith, all the properties listed before the court to him which were the assets and properties not shown to have been proceeds of any alleged financial crimes on which he is being prosecuted.
The EFCC did not file any response to the suit.
It would be recalled that the federal government and two of its agencies, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), have sometimes in 2016, filed a suit against two oil companies Atlantic Energy Drilling concepts Nigeria Limited (AEDC) and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited (AEBD), in order to recover the sum of $1,762,338,184.40 billion.
Joined as co-defendants in the suit are: Olajide Omokore and Kolawole Aluko who are both Chairman and Director of the two companies respectively.
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