The first defence witness in the alleged $1.6billion oil fraud, Olajide Omokore, has explained why one of his companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept, paid $3,569,979 to YF Construction Development Estate Limited.
The businessman, who has been reported to be an ally of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, stated this at the resumed hearing of the case involving himself, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, Victor Briggs ( former managing director, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, and Abiye Membere, on Thursday before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Alison-Madueke, who fled the country shortly after leaving office as the petroleum minister in May 2015, also has pending corruption charges against her at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The defendants are facing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on amended nine-count, bordering on alleged money laundering and procurement fraud involving Omokore’s companies in respect of a Strategic Alliance Agreement on OML 26, 30, 34 & 42 to the tune of $1.6billion.
Omokore in a statement on Thursday by the EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said his company and YF Construction build and sell properties together.
The statement read, “At the resume sitting today, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, asked the defendant whether one of his company, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept, paid Three Million, Five Hundred and Sixty-nine Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy-nine Dollars ($3,569,979) to YF Construction Development Estate Limited.
“The witness answered in the affirmative, but added that his company and YF build and sell properties together.
“Asked whether he has a Joint Venture with the company, he said, no but added that, maybe his legal department has. The prosecuting counsel asked him to look at page 2 on Exhibit Atlantic 64 to confirm an invoice to his company, Energy property for the purchase of “Jaguar Ultimate” at 36 million naira, on October 14, 2013. He confirmed the invoice.
Jacobs further said page 3 shows the delivery of the vehicle but Omokore replied that nobody received it.
“He told the court that he saw the customer name and the signature on the invoice, and also confirmed that the delivery note was signed. Asked whether he is aware that NPDC and NNPC staff are public servants, Omokore answered in the affirmative.
“The prosecuting counsel sought to know whether the defendant knew that the managing director of the NPDC and NNPC determine the quantity of crude oil to be given out to his company. He replied that he knows of NNPC but cannot tell of NPDC.
“Jacobs reminded the witness that it was Membere who as managing director of the NPDC in exhibit 12, signed all the operations. DW1 said he didn't know, but said he knew Membere to be in charge of Exploration and Production. To conclude his cross-examination, Jacobs sought to know whether Omokore’s companies were registered as charities, in view of the companies’ penchant for buying and giving out cars to people for free. The witness answered that they were not registered as charity organisations.”
Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter till tomorrow, March 4, 2022, for cross examination of the remaining defence witnesses.