Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
…The Chairman of Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, Jide Omokore, has been re-arraigned before a new judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja
The fresh arraignment followed the transfer of the case from Justice Binta Nyako to Justice Nnamdi Dimgba.
Omokore was re-arraigned monday alongside Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, David Mbanefo, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.
They were earlier arraigned before Justice Nyako on July 4 this year.
Sources said the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, transffered the case to Justice Dimgba following complaint by the prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They were re-arraigned on a nine-count amended charge in which they were accused of engaging in criminal diversion of about $1.6 billion believed to be proceeds of petroleum products belonging to the federal government.
Somo of the charges read: *“That you Olajide Jones Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept 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 Corporation (NNPC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria to deliver to you 5,652,227 barrels of crude oil (Brass blend) amounting to the sum of US$616,013,615.27 (six hundred and sixteen million, thirteen thousand, six hundred and fifteen US dollars, twenty seven cents) through the medium of contract, which delivery was induced by the false pretence to wit: that you had technical competence, professional skills and funds (both local and foreign) necessary to support NPDC in petroleum operation for the contract area and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 (1) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act Cap. A6, 2010, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and punishment under section 1(3) of the same Act.”
* “That you Victor Biggs (while being the Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC), Abiye Membere (while being the Group Executive, Exploration & Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC), David Mbanefo (while being Manager, Planning & Commercial of the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation, NNPC) and Diezani Alison-Madueke (at large) (while being the Minister of Petroleum Resources) between 2013 and 2014 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did abet the commission of money laundering by Olajide Jones Omokore, Atlanatic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Ltd and Kolawole Akanni Aluko, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
The pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them.
Following their plea, prosecuting lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), urged the court to fix a date for the commencement of trial, and to allow the defendants to enjoy the bail earlier granted them by Justice Binta Nyako.
Lawyers to the defendants did not object to the request of Jacobs, urging the court to accede to his request.
Justice Dimgba subsequently fixed December 8, 2016 for the commencement of trial.
He allowed them to remain on the bail earlier granted them.