By Hamilton Nwosa ( Head, The New Diplomat’s data tracking desk)
For Jide Omokore, a business ally of controversial former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke, the chicken may have finally come home to roost as the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to immediately take over some multi-billion naira properties belonging to the businessman.
The decision to take-over the said properties belonging to Omokore’s companies stems from the later’s inability to off-set unpaid N29bn debt. According to AMCON, assets belonging to Cedar Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Limited respectively have now been taken over by the corporation. The properties include Block A, No. 46 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State, comprising of 26 flats; Plot 1236, River Niger Street, off River Benue Street, Maitama, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; as well as Marion Apartment, Block 8, No. 4 & 5, Onikoyi Estate, Banana Island, Lagos State, consisting of 43 units of apartments.
The order which was given by Justice C.J Aneke mandated AMCON to immediately take possession of Omokore’s firms assets over the outstanding indebtedness. The companies in question were reportedly promoted by Omokore, who is presently facing trial over charges of money laundering, corruption and inappropriate diversion of Federal government’s revenue through the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation( NNPC) and some of its subsidiaries. The charges which were preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have dragged on for years.
Chief Omokore, the Chairman of Atlantic Energy Limited, with substantial business dealings with former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is also facing long-standing charges alongside his business associate, Mr Kola Aluko, in the United States. AMCON in its statement said it is also in possession of No. 33A, Cooper Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State; No. 8, Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State, as well as Manson Apartments, No. 6, Gerrard Road, Lagos State, comprising of 60 units of three-bedroom apartments.
Justice Aneke who justified his order on alleged refusal of Omokore and his company to pay AMCON their admitted sum of over ₦15bn out of the total outstanding debt of ₦29bn owed to the corporation said, it was logical for AMCON to move against Omokore to recover its indebtedness. A full statement from AMCON, narrating its own perspective of the trending story reads: “We saw it coming because the said debt was long overdue.
“You can see how these top AMCON obligors are taking all Nigerians for a ride. Even when they admitted repaying over ₦15bn owed AMCON, they still did not honour their own agreement, which they did not make under duress.
“I want you to understand that before we get to this stage with any obligor, we must have patiently tried to resolve the matter without going to court. Anytime we end up taking over assets such as in the case of Cedar Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Limited as well as its directors, Mr Olajide Omokore and others, it means all efforts by AMCON to get the obligor to amicably repay the indebtedness have proved abortive.”
The Statement added: “If you have exhausted all avenues of peaceful resolution, there is no other option available to the corporation than to commence enforcement action against the firm and Mr Olajide Omokore the promoter of Cedar Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Limited as well as the other directors as ordered by the court and as provided under Section 49-52 of the AMCON Act.”