Nigeria’s oil magnate, Onajite Okoloko, and his estranged wife, Salma Okoloko, are currently at war over outstanding contract debt his company, Eroton Exploration and Production Company is owing his wife’s company, Tectonic Oil Tools Limited (TOTL) for job executed for Eroton’s OML 18.
Court papers and documents detailing correspondence between both companies on one hand and between Tectonic and NNPC Limited (new owners of OML 18 oil field) show that the original debt owed Tectonic by Eroton was $37million and N5.3 billion, respectively.
A letter from Tectonic dated April 6, 2023 and addressed to the Group Managing Director of NNPCL, said the money was for contract awarded Tectonic by Eroton dated May 1, 2016 for the provision of Coiled Tubings, Pumping, and Nitrogen Lift Services with contract No. EEP 16-0125.
The letter said TOTL has since executed the contract but is yet to be fully paid by Onajite’s Eroton.
It can be recalled that recently NNPCL took over operatorship of the OML 18 Asset from Eroton Exploration and Production Company. It was gathered that while NNPCL was said to have duly paid Eroton all its dues, Eroton was allegedly yet to pay off TOTL the balance of $14 million and N2.9 billion for the said contract executed.
Our correspondent also gathered that following a court order, Eroton had in a letter dated 2nd July 2021, addressed to The Vice President Operations, Tectonic Oil Tools Limited, No 4, Okunola Martins Close, Off Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria, admitted to owing TOTL a balance “sums (net of taxes) of NGN 2,969,754,531.07 (Two Billion, Nine Hundred and Sixty Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Thirty One Naira, Seven Kobo Only) and USD 14,030,212.87 (Fourteen Million, Thirty Thousand, Two Hundred and Twelve United States Dollars and Eighty Seven Cents Only) due and payable to your company.”
The letter which detailed a Payment Plan to liquidate the debt owed TOTL by Eroton read in part: “We also recognize that some other claims have been submitted and confirm that same are currently undergoing verification and reconciliation. These additional claims would be included in the outstanding sums detailed above upon completion of the reconciliation exercise. The payment plan will be amended accordingly to include the additional claims and paid within the same time frame.
“In respect of the reconciled outstanding sums referenced above, please find below our payment plan,” the letter said.
While the letter listed how the outstanding debt will be paid between Q3 2021 and Q3 2022 for the N2.9 billion, it also listed how the outstanding $14 million will be liquidated between Q4 2021 and Q3 2022.
The letter signed by Ibironke Olaniyi, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Eroton Exploration & Production Company, ended with “Please be advised that we would notify you of the payments as they are made in line with the specified timelines and assure you of our highest regard.”
However, it was alleged that despite the tone of camaraderie of the letter, Eroton has allegedly reneged on the payment terms and agreement.
“We are shocked that in spite of our mutual respect for and patience with Eroton, they have reneged on a mutually agreed payment plan which was the aftermath of a court order. We have laid our complaint with appropriate authorities including the NNPCL. We will use every legal means available to us to recoup our money,” a source at TOTL told our reporter.
It is further recalled that Onajite and his wife, Salma, had been locked in a divorce drama. Onajite had filed for a divorce in 2020, threatening to send his wife out of their Florida (United States) home with their two kids.
But rather than filing for divorce in Florida where they got married and where he confirmed as his place of residence, he went to a court in Badagry, Lagos. The divorce case is currently at the Appeal Court.
NNPCL had recently announced acquisition of Eroton’s OML 18 in what industry watchers said was a move to maximise productivity of the oil field which had suffered deep slump recently just before the acquisition.