Home » Nigerian oil tycoon Jide Omokore acquitted of $1.6-billion fraud

Nigerian oil tycoon Jide Omokore acquitted of $1.6-billion fraud

by Mfonobong Nsehe
Jide Omokore

A federal high court in Abuja has cleared Nigerian oil tycoon Jide Omokore, the chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of all charges of fraud, according to a report by The Cable.

Omokore was indicted on fifteen counts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

It was alleged that he fraudulently diverted approximately $1.6 billion in government-owned proceeds from the sale of petroleum products.

Omokore is the first defendant in this case, followed by Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited.

The presiding judge in the case, Nnamdi Dimgba, ruled on Tuesday that the EFCC failed to prove its case against the first through third defendants.

On the first three counts, the anti-corruption commission alleged that the first three defendants made false statements in order to enter into a contract to carry out a project for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd. (NPDC).

However, the judge ruled that the EFCC failed to establish that the three defendants falsely claimed to possess the necessary technical and financial expertise to complete the project.

Regarding financial capacity, the judge ruled that the EFCC should have demonstrated that the three defendants had poor creditworthiness, rather than drawing that conclusion from their account balances.

The judge concurred with the testimony of the first prosecution witness, Andrew Yakubu, the former group managing director of the NNPC, that the defendants were awarded the project because NNPC had previously experienced “remarkable success and value addition” while working with them.

Regarding the counts alleging “fraudulent intent,” the judge ruled, “I do not perceive the defendants 1 through 3 as having fraudulent intentions.”

The court also cleared the defendants of money laundering and conversion-related charges.

“The sale of crude oil by the 1-3 defendants was done legally as contained in the agreement,” the court held. “They did not sell any crude that was not allocated by lawful authority.”

In addition, the court ruled that the prosecution’s allegations of a conspiracy between the defendants are unsubstantiated.

In addition, allegations bordering on procurement fraud were not established by the prosecution.

Co-suspects convicted

However, the court found the fourth and fifth defendants, Victor Briggs and Abiye Membere, guilty of “unethical car gift solicitation by public officials.” It is a violation of Section 98 of the Criminal Code Act.

The judge added that all public officials must maintain professional distance from private individuals, particularly those with business ties to their departments and agencies. The court ordered that the fourth and fifth defendants be detained by the EFCC until Wednesday, when they will be sentenced.

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