Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday convicted Victor Briggs and Abiye Membere.
The ex-officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, are standing trial in the money laundering charge involving Olajide Omokore.
They were found guilty of “unethically collecting car gifts as public officials” in contravention of section 98 of the Criminal Code Act.
Justice Dimgba said public officials must act at arm’s length with private individuals, especially those that have business relations with.
Briggs and Membere, the 4th and 5th defendants, will remain in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, pending their sentencing on Wednesday.
The court however acquitted other defendants, Omokore, Atlantic Energy Brass Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited, purveyors of the gifts.
The judge held that the anti-corruption agencies failed to prove its case against them.In its reaction, the EFCC said how the receiver of a gift will be guilty of an offence while the giver is allowed to go home “is the key puzzle of the judgment”.
The agency disclosed it will approach the Court of Appeal to set aside the acquittal of Omokore and the two companies linked to him.Omokore, his firms, Membere, and Briggs, ex-MD of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, under the NNPC, were prosecuted for alleged $1.6billion fraud.
Omokore allegedly used the Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) between the NPDC and Atlantic Energy Drilling “to swindle the government of billions of dollars through the lifting of crude oil between March 2013 and May 2014”.
Membere and Briggs were accused of conspiracy in inducing the NPDC to facilitate the lifting of crude by Omokore and the companies, and receiving car gifts.
The offence violates Section 1(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act Cap. A6, 2010, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.In August 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan sacked Briggs and replaced him with Anthony Ugonna Muoneke, a lawyer.