Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
The Federal Government has set machinery in motion for the extradition of former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Adoke is alleged to be complicit in a $801,540,000 bribe pertaining to Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, infamously refereed to as Malabu oil deal scam. It was learnt that Nigeria forwarded copies of the charges against Adoke and 10 others with regard to their roles in the oil acreage deal to the UAE.
Adoke was arrested by Interpol on Monday, November 11, but his arrest and detention became known in Nigeria on Sunday, November 18.
A top-ranking EFCC source said “copies of the arrest warrant, including the charges have been sent to Interpol. The fact of the matter is that the court has not vacated the charges against Adoke
“We couldn’t locate Adoke, Etete and nine others. It was on that basis that we notified Interpol. It was long after we had notified Interpol that Adoke and others, through their lawyers, approached the court to set aside the warrant. The order for their arrest was granted in April.
“At the same time, because the court had to adjourn for ruling, and while awaiting the ruling, they sought stay of execution of the warrant because granting the stay of execution would have amounted to setting aside the warrant, which the court refused.
“There are two pending charges against him at the Abuja High Court and the FCT High Court. The charges were originally filed on March 22, 2017 against the 11 defendants.
“The court set aside the warrant on the basis that the defendants were not served the charge. The essence was to enable us serve the charge. The defendants filed application to set aside the charge and by the time they did that, we had already disseminated the warrant to Interpol. We argued it and surprisingly, the judge came up with a ruling that we need to serve these people directly or we apply for substituted service. Thereafter, the judge said he ‘issued the warrant in error.’
“It was then agreed that EFCC should apply for substituted service, either by way of publication in the newspapers. The ruling was strange to us because the evidence is before the court. We were prepared to file the motion in court when this development happened. In fact, we saw their lawyers in court, for the first time. Since we filed the charges in court, it has suffered over 10 to 12 adjournments. The court threatened to strike out the case as we couldn’t produce the man; that was when we applied for warrant of arrest.
“The judge then said we could serve them through their lawyers. The lawyers the judge referred to, we met them for the first time during application for warrant of arrest. We didn’t even know them.”
Another EFCC source told Daily Sun that in the course of investigating what happened with OPL 245, Adoke received another $2.267 million kickback which was eventually laundered through a Bureau d’Change. He refused to disclose the Bureau d’Change’s location.
He also explained why Adoke is needed back in Nigeria and how the OPL 245 deal has robbed the country of revenue in foreign currency.
“This fraud is similar to that of the Process and Industrial Developments Limited. They removed clauses that had to do with payment of tax to Nigeria. The money was supposed to be paid Nigeria over a period of time as Petroleum/Corporate Tax and VAT for over five to 10 years, but the agreement written was in such a way that Nigeria lost $1.3 billion.
“The Production Sharing Agreement between the Federal Government, AGIP and Shell was also removed from the agreement. The involvement of Adoke was before he became the AGF. In 2006, when the matter was in a Commercial Court in London, he was the one who represented Nigeria.
“Malabu is now a criminal case in five countries, including France, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland. In the course of investigation into this case, it was discovered that Adoke paid $2, 267,400 (exchanged at the rate of 150.24naira to the dollar) into a Bureau d’ Change account and N345,000,000 was paid into his account.”
Yet, another top EFCC source said: “This shows clearly there’s no hiding place for corruption. The trend of flaunting ill-gotten is now being checked. This is a refreshing development; that this is coming from Dubai clearly shows that there’s no hiding place for thieves.”
But the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice said it had not received any formal communication on the alleged arrest of the former minister.
Abubakar Malami disclosed this while reacting to media reports on the matter.
A statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday: “My office as the Attorney General Federation and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not in receipt of any formal communication regarding the alleged arrest in line with international conventions, processes and procedures relating to such matter.
“Until such formal communication is received the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice would not comment speculatively in one way or the other over the matter.”
The warrant of arrest was secured against Adoke by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2017.
The warrant was, however, vacated by the court when the EFCC could not serve Adoke and 10 others directly.
Before the court order, the anti-graft agency had forwarded the warrant to Interpol, and the court granted its wishes for substitutes service, according to EFCC sources.
In the amended charges filed by the Federal Government with number: CR/124/2017 at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja Judicial Division), against Adoke, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, ENI Spa, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafato Sebastiano, Dauzia Loya Etete (also known as Dan Etet), Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, they were accused of “criminal conspiracy, contrary to section 26 (1) of the Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Act, 2000 punishable under sections 9 (1) (a) and 10 (a) (i).”
The three-count charge against the defendants indicated that Adoke, SHELL, Agip, Weltzels (while he was a director of SNEPCO), Roberto and Stefeno (while being directors of AGIP), and others, “sometime in 2011, in Lagos, conspired among yourselves to commit a felony to wit; corruption and thereby committed an offence, punishable under section 10 (a) (i) of the Corrupt Practices and other related offences.
Also, “Adoke, Etete, Abubakar and Malabu, sometime in 2011, within the jurisdiction of the court, received the aggregate sum of $801,540,000 from SHELL, AGIP and ENI Spa in relation to the grant of OPL 245 and thereby committed an offence.”