Jide Omokore, a business associate of Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former minister of petroleum resources, has denied stealing $3 billion in connivance with the minister.
Laolu Akande, spokesman of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, had accused the trio of Omokore, Alison-Madueke and Kola Aluko, another businessman, of stealing $3 billion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Akande had said: “The companies of both Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko lifted Nigerian crude oil and kept the proceeds. The total sums converted is in excess of three billion dollars including royalties, taxes and fees unpaid for the asset from which the crude was taken.”
But in a statement issued in reaction to the allegation, Omokore said he never connived with anyone to steal the money.
Speaking through R. A. Lawal-Rabana, his counsel, he said his dealings with the NNPC were transparent.
“The relationship between Jide Omokore’s company Atlantic Energy with NNPC/NPDC is well documented as a commercial transaction of which there has been part performance. There is nothing illegal or fraudulent about the transaction,” he said.
He added that while a case involving him is before the court, he is yet to be pronounced guilty of corruption.
Omokore said: “The rule of law requires that a man is presumed innocent until adjudged guilty through a fair judicial process. Therefore, in this case, we wonder where the emphatic conclusion from the office of the vice-president came from.
“In the best tradition of the bar, when a matter is sub judice, as senior counsel, 1 will not delve into the merit or otherwise of the ongoing trial except to say and caution against prejudicing the public and the entire judicial process.
“We, therefore, urge the office of the vice-president to exercise restraint in banding people as corrupt without a judicial pronouncement to that effect. In conclusion, having regard to the facts and circumstances of this particular case, we believe that the office of the vice-president has been misinformed.”