The trial of Jide Omokore and others arraigned before the Federal High Court in Abuja on on a nine-count charge slammed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday, took a definite shape as prosecution witness, Yusuf Shiminga Matashe, told the court how Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Energy Brass Development Limited, allegedly owned by the Omokore, floated all sections of the agreement the companies had with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Omokore is being prosecuted over $16.6bn fraud alongside Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, David Mbanefo, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.
They are standing trial on a 9-count amended charge of criminal diversion of about $1.6 billion alleged to be proceeds of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.
Led in evidence by the lead prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Matashe, who is the Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) said the companies did not follow the agreement reached with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) before they were allowed to lift crude oil.
Matashe said the Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited did not meet the requirements before they were allowed .to continue with the terms of agreement.
He said in December 2012, NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC entered into an agreement with the two companies to enhance productivity of the NPDC, with the sole aim of ganrannting that NPDC, which is managing 60 percent equity shares of OMLX 60, 61, 62 and 63 of the NNPC meets its strategic profile to increase volume of production.
The witness said the Strategic Alliance Agreement was to ensure that partners provide funding for NPDC, provide technical expertise and other conditions, adding that the companies were supposed to pay entry fee of $133m within 70 days of signing the agreement.
Matashe said the deed of assignment was made on December 11, 2012 by the the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke and that the 70 days starts counting from the day the entry fee is paid, adding that none of the conditions, among others, were meant before the companies started lifting crude oil.
“No record that such payments were made”, he told the court and Certified True Copies of the approval of 60 percent equity of OMLX 60 to 63 to NPDC by the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the deed of assignment date December 11, 2012 were tendered as exhibits, along with other document through the witness by the prosecution counsel.
The witness said the officers responsible for the approval for lifting of crude oil within the NPDC is the General Manager, commercial and Planning Department, who process it for the approval of the Managing Director.
He said, over 7.5 million barrels of crude oil was lifted by Atlantic Brass, valued at over $824 million, without paying the entry fee and other fee as required in the agreement.
The prosecution counsel concluded leading the witness in evidence and the court adjourned till March 2 for cross examination of the witness by the defence counsel.