Oil magnate and Chairman of Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, Mr Jide Omokore, and three others have been arraigned at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
They were arraigned on a nine count charges of criminal diversion of 1.6 billion dollars alleged to be proceeds of petroleum products belonging to the federal government.
Omokore and his co-accused pleaded not guilty to the charges when the charges were read to them.
The accused persons were granted bail in the sum of 50 million Naira each with one surety who must be owner of a landed property in the Federal Capital Territory or a senior civil servant.
They are also to deposit all of their travel documents in the court, and also swear to an affidavit of means along with their sureties.
At the opening of the proceedings, lawyers to the accused persons had argued that their clients could not take pleas because the prosecution has not provided proof of service on Kolawale Aluko and the former Minister of Petroleum, Allison-Madueke, who were both said to be at large.
The counsels argued that the former minister and Aluko had been charged alongside Omokore and five others but the prosecution have failed to list them on the defendants list.
The lawyers urged the court to direct the EFCC to put its house in order before bringing the charges against their clients.
In a short ruling, Justice Binta Nyako agreed with the defendants that the charges placed before the court were not ripe for hearing.
Following the ruling, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, quickly made an oral application to strike out the names of Alison-Madueke and Aluko from the charge sheet.
He also applied that the court should allow the accused persons take their plea. This the court granted, with the accused persons pleading not guilty to the nine count charge and were granted bail.
Mr Jide Omokore, his two companies and three other persons are accused of involvement in various petroleum product fraud.
Prosecutor has accused them of making dubious claims of 13,000 metric tones with the petroleum product regulatory agency thereby pocketing 1.6 billion dollars extra through illegal importation of petroleum products.
The trial has been fixed for October 19, 2016.
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