Update: Omokore, Others, Plead not Guilty, Granted Bail

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday arraigned Jide Omokore , a business man and ally of former Petroleum Minster, Diezani Allison-Madueke, Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, David Mbanefo, and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.
They were arraigned on 9-count charge bordering on money laundering. They appeared before Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court, Abuja.
Marked Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/121/2016, count one reads: 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 Development Company and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Federal Government of Nigeria to delver to you 5,652,227 barrels of crude oil (brass blend) valued at the sum of the sum of US $616,013,625.27 through the medium of a contract (Strategic Alliance Agreement) which delivery was induced by false pretence, to wit: the representation that you had technical competence, professional skills and funds ( both local and international) necessary to support NPDC in petroleum operation for OML 60, 62 and 63 and you thereby com!fitted 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 punishable under section 1 (3) of the same Act.
After the charges were read to them, they all pleaded not guilty.
Bail applications from the defendant counsels were taken. The counsels pleaded with the Judge to grant each of them bail in liberal terms.
The prosecution counsel did not oppose the applications, but told the Judge to give them conditions that would make appear for trial.
The Judge, after listening to both sides of the case, granted them bail in the sum of N50m each, with one surety each, a senior civil servant, who must have property in Abuja.
The court adjourned till October 19 for trial
Earlier, the defence counsels argued that including Kolawole Akani Aluko, who is at large, among the defendants and without serving him with the originating summon, will bounce back on other accused.
The defence counsels argued that as far as Aluko’s name was listed as one of the defendants, he to be served with the charged, saying there is no way a trial can proceed without serving Aluko “because we don’t want our clients to be tried twice”
According to the counsels: “Before a proceeding can commence, a person at large must be served first with the originating process. There is no proof from EFCC that service has been done. If we continue with the trial other defendants can be a victim later”.
But the prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jocabs countered that a party not available can be arraigned in absentia. “Any time we get him the charges could be amended and charges filed against him.
“Aluko is in Europe, we could not even take his statement, yet they want us to serve him along with others so that they could create a lacuna. That is the conspiracy among them, they know he is one of them. The plea of those present in court should be taken”, he argued.
In short ruling by Justice Nyako, she said as far all the accused, including Aluko, are charged together, the consequences of the trial will be borne by all of them, so there was need to separate the arraignment.
She said: “The issue of Aluko being charged at large, the question is what is the position of Aluko at the trial?. For person to be put on trial, the allegations have to read to him with the language he understands. Aluko has not be served. For me the case is not ripe for hearing” She advised the prosecution counsel to explore order method of serving him and come back for the case later.
“They have been charged together and if found guilty they could be together. Find a way to handle the situation so that we can continue”, she said.
Thereafter Jacobs sought the names of that of Aluko be struck out from the charge sheet so that the plead of other defendants present in court could be taken.
The Judge accordingly struck out Aluko’s name from the charge sheet.

Author: News Editor

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