A Federal High Court in Lagos has rejected the plea to unfreeze the assets and funds of two Nigerian businessmen, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore, who were sued by the Federal Government over an alleged indebtedness of $1.8bn.
Aluko and Omokore were believed to have benefitted from some shady transactions with the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Joined with them in the debt recovery suit filed by the Federal Government are their companies – Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited.
The plaintiffs in the suit filed before Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo are the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Mr. Dipo Okpeseyi (SAN), had since May obtained a mareva injunction freezing the defendants’ assets and funds both within and outside the country.
The judge restrained the defendants and their privies from accessing their funds and assets both within and outside the country pending the determination of the suit.
The defendants had, however, approached the court with an application, seeking to discharge the mareva injunction.
But in a ruling on Tuesday, Justice Oguntoyinbo dismissed the application, holding that the defendants’ assets and funds would remain frozen until the final determination of the substantive suit.
The mareva injunction granted by the court is binding on all the local and foreign banks where the defendants were believed to have funds.
Among the banks are 19 commercial banks in Nigeria and eight foreign banks.
The foreign banks are BNP Paribas (Switzerland), LGT Bank (Switzerland), Standard Chartered Bank (London),Barclays Bank (London), Standard Energy (Voduz, Switzerland), HSBC (London), Corner Bank (Lugano, Switzerland) and Deutsche Bank (Geneva).
Also affected by the court order are companies linked with the defendants – Mia Hotels Ltd., First Motors Ltd., V.I. Petrochemical Ltd., Evergreen Realty & Management, Ox Trade Ltd., De First Union Integrated Services, Amity Plus Ltd and Seven Energy International Ltd.
The court also froze properties linked with the defendants. These are 775 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles; 952 North Alphine Drive, Los Angeles; 815 Cima Del Mundo, Los Angeles, 1049 Fifth Avenue, New York, 1948 & 1952 Tollis Avenue, Santa Barbara; 157 West 57th Street, New York, 4100 Le Reve, Dubai; and Grove End Road, London.
Others are Galactica Star (Yacht); 20-year berth lease – Barcelona; a watch collection; 58 vehicles; Aeroplane-Global Express S5-GMG; Aeroplane-Bombardier Global 6000 9H-OPE and Aeroplane Bombardier.
The properties in Nigeria are Avenue Towers, Lagos, Nigeria; Colina D’oro, Montagnola, Switzerland; Block A consisting of 26 flats at No. 46 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; Mason Apartments situated at No. 6 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos comprising 60 units of three-bedroomed apartments; Marion Apartments Block 8 located at 4 &5 Onikoyi Estate, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, consisting of 43 units of apartments; 334 Cooper Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 8 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.