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» » DIEZANI MADUEKE ESCAPES PROSECUTION AS EFCC DROPS CHARGES AGAINST HER
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) made last minute adjustment to a $1.6 billion charge it filed against associates of former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The commission applied for the exclusion of the names of the former minister and a businessman, Kolawole Akanni Aluko, who were mentioned in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/121/2016.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke was named in Count 8 of the charge and accused of “abetting the commission of money laundering,” by those listed in the charge.

Aluko was accused of engaging in conspiracy, money laundering and fraud.

The EFCC decision to drop the former minister 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 two co-defendants were not in court and had not been served with the charge.

Although the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) argued that the arraignment was possible without the duo of Mrs. 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 produced in court before arraignment could take place.

After Jacobs applied for the exclusion 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 (NNPC), Abiye Membere, Manager, Planning and Commercial of the NNPC, David Mbanefo and two companies 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 NPPC subsidiary and the Federal Government of 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

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