Godwin Tsa Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began grilling embattled former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, last night, few hours after he was arrested on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
His counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, said he “was picked up at the foot of the aircraft by Interpol, refusing anyone access to him. He is believed to be on his way to the Interpol office at Area 10, Garki, Abuja.”
His aircraft touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja at about 3:40pm and he was, thereafter, whisked away by security operatives to office of the International Police (Interpol) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to Ozekhome, the former AGF opted to come back to Nigeria: “He has been released and he is airborne to Nigeria. He has been released because nothing was found against him, nothing incriminating was found. So the UAE authorities and Interpol were forced to release him….
“Now that Mr. Adoke has been released by the Interpol and UAE/Dubai authorities after finding nothing criminal against him, he will, by the special grace of God, based on our legal advice, voluntarily return to Nigeria on Thursday, 19th of December, 2019, as he had always insisted he would do when this patent persecution started.
“He is already air-borne, as we write this piece, on his way to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Attached herewith are evidence of his self-purchased flight tickets and the statement he signed before the Interpol/Dubai/UAE authorities.
“He will also voluntarily report to the EFCC upon his arrival in Nigeria, accompanied by some counsel from my chambers.
“Our client remains very confident that he will be vindicated in the court of law and justice at the end of the day, after a free and fair trial, devoid of the usual media trial and conviction in the public space.”
But contrary to his claim that Adoke voluntarily returned, Daily Sun gathered that he was actually repatriated by the Dubai authorities following request by the EFCC.
The EFCC also confirmed in its twitter handle that the ex-AGF left Dubai following pressure from the anti-graft agency.
“The EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, and Dubai authorities have held series of meeting in respect of the former Attorney General. He was accompanied by INTERPOL officers on Emirates Airlines Flight 785.
“The aircraft departed the Emirate commercial capital at about 11am Dubai time (8am Nigerian time) and touched down at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja at 3:45pm.
“Officers of the EFCC were on ground at the airport when he arrived,” the Commission tweeted.
A Dubai Police HQ General Department of Criminal Investigation Interpol division advisory said Adoke was wanted by the “Republic of Nigeria” on charges of “Conspiracy, corruption and money laundering.”
In an advisory, the former minister signed: “I would go to NIGERIA authorities to solve my problem, and that without any stress or pressure from Dubai police or anyone.”
According to multiple sources, following pressure from Dubai authorities, the embattled former minister agreed to leave (return to Nigeria) and signed an undertaken to that effect.
“So, it would not be correct to suggest he voluntarily returned because from all indications, he had no choice because of the intense pressure that was brought to bear on him.”
The source said last night that Adoke’s international passport had been impounded while crack detectives have begun grilling him.
“He was allowed some hours to rest after he was handed over to the Commission. Thereafter, his grilling started. He is cooperating with our men. We’re making progress.”
The source declined to reveal his identity because he is not authorised to speak for the Commission said last night.
Why we arrested him – Interpol
The Interpol said it executed his arrest following request by theEFCC
“We have a red notice for him and we have instructions to arrest him upon arrival in Nigeria. We have carried out those instructions diligently and professionally.
“We have been in touch with the EFCC, which is the Nigerian law enforcement organisation that is interested in Mr Adoke. We’re going to hand him over immediately after debriefing him,” Umar Garba, head of Interpol, said last night
He said the debriefing could be concluded by last night barring unforeseen bureaucratic hurdles.
However, EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said he could not confirm whether or not Adoke had been handed over to the commission.
I’ve not been briefed about Adoke’s return -Malami
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said he has not been briefed on the return of his predecessor from Dubai.
Speaking to judiciary correspondents in Abuja, last night, the AGF said he was yet to receive a formal briefing on Adoke’s arrival to the country.
Asked what would be the Federal Government’s next line of action with respect to the pending criminal charge the EFCC preferred against the ex-AGF over his alleged complicity in the $1.2 billion Malabu Oil bloc scam, Malami, said he would not comment on a matter that is already before the court.
“I think there are multiple judicial cases pending before the judiciary and against the background of subsisting principle of the law, I wouldn’t want to comment one way or the other in that respect or direction because I cannot be talking in preemptive sense or preempting the judicial position as it relates to the matter.
“I am equally not in a position to confirm the statement relating to the arrival of the former Attorney General in Nigeria as I have not been officially briefed in that respect. Until I am formally briefed I am not in a position to comment on it, one way or the other,” he added. The Interpol had predicated their action on an international bench warrant for Adoke’s arrest issued on April 17, 2019 by Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
But Adoke had insisted his arrest in Dubai was illegal since the purported bench warrant had been vacated by the same court.
Ozekhome in statement, yesterday, said: “We are solicitors to Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice (our client). We issue this statement on his clear instructions and mandate. On the morning of Tuesday, 11th of November, 2019, our client arrived Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE), for a scheduled medical check-up.
“While he was undergoing immigration checks, he was informed that Interpol had a Warrant to arrest him. He was shocked to his bones and marrow. This is because although a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had issued a Warrant of Arrest against our client on the 17th of April, 2019, following an exparte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the same Court had duly vacated the said arrest warrant Order on the 25th of October, 2019, following our challenge of the exparte order, and after robust court argument between EFCC (government) counsel and my humble self. There was therefore no existing arrest warrant on which the Interpol’s arrest was made. This was well reported by the media.
“Our client duly showed Interpol officials copies of the certified Court Order by Hon. Justice Danlami Z. Senchi. He also showed them the 17th of April, 2018, judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered by the Hon. Justice Binta Nyako, to the effect that our client could not be held liable for obeying lawful presidential directives on the OPL 245 transaction.
“The Interpol officials, however, said only the Warrant of Arrest was communicated to them by the Federal Government, and not any of these overriding court processes.
“The vacation and setting aside of the warrant of arrest order made by Honourable Justice D. Z. Senchi was curiously not communicated to the Interpol or the UAE authorities. But, they insisted that they could only deal with the Nigerian government, which must first communicate to them, the said vacation and setting aside of the warrant of arrest.
“Our client told them that he was ready to return to Nigeria on his own accord after his medicals; yet, they still kept him in illegal custody for over one month, after running into a legal logjam. It was very clear to them that the Government of Nigeria did not have any legal basis or grounds to extradite Mr Adoke back to Nigeria.”