Court orders Zenith Bank to freeze oil firm’s account

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A Lugbe Grade 1 Area Court, Abuja, has ordered Zenith Bank to freeze an account operated by Nigeria’s oil and gas firm, Midwestern Oil and Gas.

The order followed an application filed by the Nigerian government demanding that the company’s account with the bank be frozen to allow proper investigations into its finances.

Dated July 22, the court order also directed the bank to place a “Post No Debit” order on the company’s account pending completion of investigation into the company’s financial records.

A post-no-debit order forbids a customer whose account is restricted from withdrawing whatever monies is in the account until activation.

PREMIUM TIMES understands that the company is being investigated by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) after a petition was filed against it.

Okoi Obono-Obla, Chairman of the investigative panel, told PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday afternoon that a petition filed against the company alleged that it dredged oil from a well in Delta State without extant approvals by regulatory agencies.

Mr Obono-Obla noted that there is an executive order that mandates the commitee to seek an order of interim forfeiture. in any case of alleged corruption, economic or financial crime.

“That’s what we did,” he told this newspaper in a telephone interview.

“We have been investigating that company for the past two years. And the allegation that was filed against the company by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria is that they have an oil well in Delta State.”

He noted that firms cannot dredge from an oil well without a licence obtained from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

“That’s what we are trying to investigate to see if that allegation is true; and if that allegation is true, then we have to recover all they have made from dredging oil from that oil well.”

Mr Obono-Obla said the presidential commitee has a mandate to look for where the company has its accounts and found it at Zenith Bank.

“We want to know how much they have been making so that if we are going to recover any money, we’d know how much we are going to recover,” he added.

The judge, M.A Sadiq, also ordered that should any person tamper with the account, such person should be arrested and handed over to the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.

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Midwestern Oil and Gas could not be reached Tuesday afternoon as all contact details on its website did not go through.

The company is involved in exploration and production of oil and gas.

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