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A State High Court in Port Harcourt has dismissed an application filed by Saipem Nigeria Contracting Limited, challenging its jurisdiction to entertain the case of an alleged $130 million fraud between the company and the Rivers State Government.

Justice Okogbule Gbasam dismissed the application in his ruling on Thursday, after several hours of submissions and counter-submissions by legal representatives in the matter.

The court ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case on the ground of facts that the information the parties pleaded to, were not being questioned by the defendants.

The judge also adjourned the case till February 22nd, 23rd and 24th 2022 for continuation.

The state government had sued Saipem SPA, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, Mr. Walter Peviana and four others, over alleged conspiracy to cheat and with intent to defraud the state of the sum of $130 million, being advanced payment for the construction of the OCGT power plant in Port Harcourt.

Parties in the case in Suit No: PHC/3106/CR/2021, are the Rivers State Government (Prosecution) and Saipem SPA (first defendant), Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited (second defendant), Mr. Walter Peviana (third defendant), Kelechi Sinteh Chinakwe (fourth defendant), Giandomenico Zingali (fifth defendant) Vitto Testaguzza (sixth defendant) and Davide Anelli (seventh defendant).

At the last adjourned date being yesterday, Wednesday, the court had fixed today (Thursday) to hear the preliminary objection filed by the first, second, third and sixth defendants.

The first, second, third and sixth defendants were represented by Chief Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, while the fourth defendant was represented by Chief Cosmas Enweluzo, SAN.

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