A federal high court in Abuja has discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Deziani Alison-Madueke in the case of $1.6b fraud brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Omokore who is chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, was arraigned by the EFCC on a 15 count charge. He was alleged to have fraudulently diverted $1.6bn alleged to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the federal government. In his judgment Tuesday, Nnamdi Dimgba, the presiding judge, said the EFCC failed to prove its case against the first to third defendants. On the first three counts, the anti-graft commission had alleged that the first three defendants made false representations in other to get into an agreement to carry out a project for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC). On financial capacity, the judge held that the EFCC ought to have shown that the three defendants had bad creditworthiness as opposed to making a conclusion from their account balance. The judge also agreed with the testimony given by the first prosecution witness, Andrew Yakubu, former group managing director of the NNPC.
Yakubu had earlier testified that the defendants were awarded the project because NNPC had previously recorded “remarkable success and value addition” while working with them. On the counts relating to “fraudulent intent,” the judge held that “the 1st-3rd defendants do not strike me as persons with fraudulent intents”. The court also acquitted the defendants of the charges bordering on money laundering and conversion. “The sale of crude oil by the 1st-3rd 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.” The court also held that there is no evidence of a conspiracy between the defendants as alleged by the prosecution.

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