Nigerian businessmen, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore, have urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to stay further proceedings in a suit filed against them by the Federal Government to recover an alleged debt of $1.8bn.
The court, presided over by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, had last year made a mareva injunction freezing the defendants’ assets both at home and abroad pending the determination of the suit.
The Federal Government sued Aluko and Omokore, who are allies of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, alongside their companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited.
In an affidavit attached to the suit filed through its lawyer, Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), the Federal Government alleged that the defendants unlawfully diverted a profit of about $1.8bn due to it on crude oil which they lifted and sold.
A lawyer from the Federal Ministry of Justice, Isaac Oginni, who deposed to the affidavit, said rather than pay the Federal Government, the defendants converted the $1.8bn to their own and used it to, among others, buy several vehicles valued at over N800m, which they allegedly donated to the Peoples Democratic Party.
According to Oginni, the defendants also bought another set of vehicles worth over N130m and gave them out to Diezani and some other management staff members of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company.
He added that Aluko, among others, also used part of the allegedly diverted funds to purchase a 26-flat property at 46, Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos for which he made part payments of $18,548,619.99 and N1,070,000,000 to FBN Mortgages Limited.
Efforts by the defendants to vacate the mareva injunction freezing their bank accounts and assets both locally and internationally failed late last year as Justice Oguntoyinbo dismissed their application, seeking to vacate the injunction.
The judge held that the injunction would subsist until the final determination of the case filed against them by the Federal Government.
The displeased businessmen and their companies, however, appealed the ruling and subsequently urged Justice Oguntoyinbo to stay further proceedings in the case pending the outcome of the appeal. Justice Oguntoyinbo adjourned till September 29, 2017 to determine the new application.