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 home and abroad pending the determination of the suit.
The Federal Government sued Aluko and Omokore, who are allies of former Minister Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, alongside their companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited.
Justice Oguntoyinbo last October dismissed the defendants’ application to vacate the mareva injunction, restraining them from accessing their assets, affirming that the order would subsist till the final determination of the suit.
The displeased businessmen and their companies, however, appealed the ruling and subsequently ordered the court to stay further proceedings pending the outcome of the appeal.
Justice Oguntoyinbo adjourned till September 29, 2017 to determine the application.
In 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 the Federal Government on crude oil which they lifted and sold.
Rather than pay the Federal Government, the defendants were accused of converting 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 the Federal Government, the defendants also bought another set of vehicles worth over N130m and gave them out to Diezani and some other managerial staff members of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company.