A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, struck out one of the nine counts of $1.6bn crude oil fraud instituted against businessman, Jide Omokore, and five others.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, in a ruling, struck out the eighth count after hearing an application by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who had alleged that she was indicted in the particular count, yet was not given the opportunity to defend herself.
The six, named as defendants in the case, included, Omokore his two companies, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited.
The other defendants are a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Victor Briggs; a former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Abiye Membere; and a former Manager, Planning and Commercial of the NNPC, David Mbanefo.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had preferred nine counts of criminal diversion of about $1.6bn alleged to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government, against the six defendants.
Alison-Madueke, who was said to be currently in the United Kingdom facing some legal proceedings, was not listed among the existing six defendants in the case to defend the charge, but she was, together with Biggs, Membere and Mbanefo, in count eight, accused of aiding Omokore in the commission of money laundering offence.
The offence she and others were accused of was said to be contrary to section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
But the former minister, through her lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), on September 18, filed an application seeking among other prayers, an order directing an amendment to the charges, by adding her name as the seventh defendant to enable her to defend herself with respect to the eighth count.