Wealthy businessman, Onajite Okoloko, and his estranged wife, Salma Okoloko, are currently enmeshed in a battle of wits over a contract debt his company, Eroton Exploration and Production Company is owing his wife’s company, Tectonic Oil Tools Limited (TOTL).
The contract causing the dispute between the alienated couple was executed by TOTL at Eroton’s OML 18.
According to letters between both parties on one hand and between Tectonic and NNPC Limited (new owners of OML 18 oil field) as well as court fillings seen by Frontline News Online, the initial debt owed Tectonic by Eroton was $37million and N5.3 billion respectively.
A further glance through the documents which explain the disagreement between both companies shows how a letter from Tectonic dated April 6, 2023 and addressed to the Group Managing Director of NNPCL, indicated that the disputed figure was for the 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 stated that TOTL duly executed the contract but it is yet to be fully paid by Onajite’s Eroton.
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 of “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 company in the letter detailed a payment plan by which it would clear the debt it owed TOTL.
Eroton’s letter 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”.
In the letter signed by Ibironke Olaniyi, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Eroton Exploration & Production Company, it was further stated that the 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.
Eroton admitted to being indebted to the tune of $14 million and N2.9 billion for the said contract executed. But his estranged wife’s company put the amount at $37,147,654.25 and N5,308,689,150.84, saying the “said amount is all-inclusive of the disputed and reconciled sums”.
More importantly, Eroton reneged on its promise to clear the debt.
Recall that NNPCL took over operatorship of the OML 18 Asset from Eroton Exploration and Production Company. It was learnt that NNPCL has duly paid Eroton all its dues on its part while Eroton has not paid TOTL the balance of $14 million and N2.9 billion for the said contract executed.
On the home front, the former couple are also locked in a bitter confrontation. Onajite had filed for a divorce in 2020, threatening to send his wife out of their Florida (United States) home along with their two children.
But rather than filing for divorce in Florida where they both wedded and where he confirmed as his place of residence, the Eroton boss filed his case at a court in Badagry, Lagos. The divorce case is currently being heard at the Appeal Court.
Recall that NNPCL recently announced acquisition of Eroton’s OML 18 in what industry players described as a move to maximise productivity of the oil field which had suffered deep slump recently just before the acquisition.