N1.6bn scam: Court grants Omokore leave to travel, rules on application challenging jurisdiction July 5

Posted by News Express | 14 June 2017 | 1,641 times

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Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja has granted the embattled Chairman of Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, Jide Omokore, who is standing trial for a N1.6 billion oil scam, the permission to travel abroad between July 11 and September 10, this year.

 The trial judge has also fixed July 5 to rule on an application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.

The application was brought by Abiye Membere, a former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

Omokore and his companies are standing trial along with Membere, Victor Briggs, former Managing Director of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC); and David Mbanefo, Manager, Planning and Commercial of the NNPC. They were re-arraigned last November 21 on a nine-count amended charge of criminal diversion of about $1.6 billion alleged to be proceeds of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

At the resumed sitting on Tuesday, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who called the attention of the court to the applications, noted that they were only served on him late yesterday.

“I was served some applications, one filed yesterday, June 12 challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain this matter, which was served on me very late yesterday, around 6pm, and I just got the motion this morning,” he said, noting that he would need about two days to file his written addresses.

He told the court that he would not be objecting to the second application, which was also dated June 12 and brought by Omokore’s counsel, R.A. Rabana, SAN, “asking for permission or leave of court permitting him to travel.”

 While noting that the court had in April also granted Omokore leave to travel, he hinted that “I’ve spoken with his counsel, and told him that it is better he travels during the vacation period of the court.”

Justice Dimgba then ruled that the order seeking for “leave of court” to allow Omokore travel, “is granted as prayed”, stressing that he could however only travel between July 11 (last day of work for the court), and September 10, 2017 (when the courts resume).

Jacobs, who also said that he wanted to file additional proofs of evidence, and also call more witnesses, then sought a date for hearing of arguments with regards to the application brought by Membere’s counsel, Osaro Eghobamien, SAN, which challenged the court’s jurisdiction.

Justice Dimgba then adjourned to June 22 for hearing of the application challenging jurisdiction of the court, and adoption of written addresses, and fixed July 5 “for ruling and continuation of trial depending on which way it goes”.

Source: News Express

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