OPL 245: EFCC To Serve Adoke, Etete By Substituted Means

(FILE) Mohammed Adoke

 

 

The Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Jabi has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to serve the criminal charges of alleged abuse of office and money laundering in respect of the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI, brought against a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, and others by substituted means.

EFCC’s head of media and publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.

According to him, Justice Danlami Senchi gave the order in a ruling on Friday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Justice Senchi lifted the arrest warrant earlier issued against the defendants and ruled that it would be reissued after the prosecution has served them by substituted means due to their unavailability.

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The EFCC had obtained a warrant of arrest on April 17 against Adoke, as well as a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, and four others over the OPL 245 scandal.

It filed criminal charges against the defendants but decried it has been difficult for it to serve them the charges or produce them in court as a result of their absence from the country.

The situation forced the anti-graft agency to apply for a warrant of arrest against them, which was granted by the court, empowering the Nigeria Police Force and Interpol to arrest them anywhere they were seen.

 

Endless Adjournments?

EFCC also said it has been difficult to execute the warrant as the defendants allegedly remained in hiding in foreign locations, leaving the court to contend with endless adjournments in the matter.

Thereafter, the defendants through their counsel went to court and asked that the warrant be set aside, based on the fact that the EFCC has so far not served them any charges.

Justice Senchi obliged them, saying the application was meritorious.

He had stated that the EFCC ought to have served the charges to the defendants before applying for the arrest warrant that was granted to it.

The trial judge further ruled that the arrest warrant would be reissued against the defendants if they refused to show up in court after they have been served and upon a new application by the EFCC.

He, however, stated that the EFCC ought to have informed the court that it could not trace the defendants so as to serve them the charges.

Justice Senchi added that the court would have authorised the commission to serve the defendants by substituted means, which may be by a newspaper advertisement or through their legal representatives when they were in court.

Following the pronouncements, the prosecuting counsel, Aliyu Yusuf, informed the court that the EFCC would apply to serve the defendants, through their legal representatives.

He said, “As we cannot serve them because they are at large, we will write an application for leave of court, permitting us to serve the accused through their lawyers and if after adjournment they did not show up, we will still ask the court for a warrant of arrest.”

The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had revoked the OPL 245, which the late General Sani Abacha granted Etete who was his Petroleum Minister and reassigned it to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company.

But Malabu Oil and Gas was said to have reclaimed the oil block in 2006 through the court while Shell challenged the decision.

The EFCC claimed that fraudulent settlement and resolution ensued, allowing Shell and Eni to buy the oil block from Malabu in the sum of $1.1billion.

It said investigations into the deal revealed crimes that border on conspiracy, forgery of bank documents, bribery, corruption and money laundering to the tune of over $1.2 billion.

Court Orders Arrest Of Dan Etete, Adoke, Others Over Malabu Oil Deal

 

A Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Jabi has ordered the arrest of Dan Etete, a former Minister of Petroleum, Mohammed Adoke, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation and four others who were allegedly implicated in the Malabu Oil scandal.

According to a statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the warrant of arrest was issued by Justice D.Z. Senchi on Wednesday after they failed to appear to face charges related to the scandal.

The statement said that all the defendants declared wanted have repeatedly failed to appear before the court.

The EFCC had through its counsel, Aliyu Yusuf, brought a motion ex parte praying the court for a warrant of their arrest, and an order for leave to execute the warrant outside of the jurisdiction of the court.#

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The proceedings on Wednesday had Justice Senchi, grant the prayers of the EFCC, and ruled that the Nigeria Police, the INTERPOL and any other law enforcement agency should arrest them anywhere they were found including outside jurisdiction of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) High Court.

The EFCC had since 2017 pressed charges against Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Co. Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Eni Spa, Raph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujato Stefeno, Burrato Sebastiano, Duazia Louya Etete (aka Dan Etete), Mohammed Bello Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas Limited.

The matter was adjourned to July 11, 2019, for further hearing.

Malabu Oil: Criminal Trial To Begin June 8, 2017

Arik Air Takeover: Court Fixes May 15 For RulingAn Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Danlami Senchi, has fixed June 8, 2017 for the commencement of criminal trial against Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited and others.

The others involved include: Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, ENI SPA, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete and former Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke.

Also joined in the case filed by the Federal Government are: Aliyu Abubakar, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafato Sebastiano and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

In the three-count charge preferred against the 11 defendants, Shell Petroleum Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, ENI SPA and some directors of the oil companies were accused of giving out $801 million ‎for the illegal acquisition of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd.

The Federal Government also accused Mr Etete, Mr Adoke and others of illegally receiving the sum of $801 million to grant Oil Prospecting Licence 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

EFCC Files Charges Against Shell, Eni, Nine Others

EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a three-count charge of conspiracy and corruption against two multinational oil firms, Shell and Eni, for their roles in the alleged Malabu $1.1 billion scandal.

Nine others were also charged along with the two multinational companies before an FCT High Court in Abuja on Thursday.

Those charged alongside Shell and Eni are a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, as well as a businessman Aliyu Abubakar.

In the first count of the charge, Shell Nigeria, Nigeria AGIP Exploration Ltd., Eni S.p.A, a former Director of SNEPCO, Ralph Wetzels, two Italians who are former directors in AGIP, Casula Roberto and Burrafato Sebastiano, Douzia Louya Etete popularly known as Dan Etete, Mohammed Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd. allegedly conspired sometime in 2011 to commit an offence of official corruption.

In the charge sheet signed by Jonson Ojogbane for the EFCC, the offence was said to be contrary to Section 26 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act of 2000 and punishable under Section 12 of the same act.

In the second charge, Dan Etete, Mohammed Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas were alleged to have corruptly received the sum of eight hundred and one (801) million dollars in respect of OPL 245 from Shell Nigeria, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd. and Eni S.p.A.

The new charges were said to be part of an international collaboration to ensure that all those who partook in the alleged $1.1 billion OPL 245 scandal were brought to justice.

The OPL 245 oil block is currently owned by the Nigerian Government after a temporary court order granted on the basis of an EFCC application.

Shell and Eni have since appealed the order asking that the block be returned to them.

British Police Probe Shell, ENI Over Sale Of $1.3 billion OPL 245 In Nigeria

British police are investigating a money-laundering allegation related to a big oil field bought by Shell and ENI from Nigeria for $1.3 billion, after most of the cash they paid ended up in a company linked to former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete.

The probe concerns offshore block OPL 245, which industry sources say contains up to 9.23 billion barrels of crude – more than enough to keep China running for two and a half years – the ownership of which had been in dispute for more than a decade.

“The proceeds of Crime Unit is investigating a money-laundering allegation in the UK in connection with OPL 245. The investigation is at an early stage,” a UK spokesman said.

Transparency campaigners, who asked the UK to look into the matter, assert that Shell and ENI used the Nigerian government as a go-between to obscure the fact that they were dealing with former oil minister Dan Etete, who also has a 2007 money-laundering conviction in France related to bribes he was alleged to have taken when in government.

In his capacity as Minister of Petroleum, Etete awarded block OPL 245 in 1998 for a payment of just $2 million to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company in which he played a prominent role.

The critics claim that Shell and ENI, which haven’t been accused of any legal wrongdoing, wanted to distance themselves from Etete given his reputation and his involvement in the original award of the oil block to Malabu.

A Shell spokesman told Reuters it had purchased the block from the government, making no payment to Malabu, and that it acted transparently and in accordance with Nigerian law.

ENI declined to comment to Reuters, but it told shareholders in May that the transaction was with the government, not Malabu.

Reuters was not able to locate Etete for comment. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Shell and ENI say they bought the block from the Nigerian government, for which they paid it $1.3 billion in 2011, the federal government says it was helping resolve an ownership dispute over the block between Shell and Malabu and immediately transferred $1.09 billion from the sale to Malabu. The government retained the remainder.

Etete had awarded the block to Malabu during the rule of military dictator Sani Abacha, whose son Mohammed and other close allies were shareholders in the company. That deal was later annulled after the death of Abacha by a new government that judged the award improper.

In a UK court case brought by Emeka Obi against Malabu for unpaid fees relating to his help in brokering the Shell/ENI deal, the judge in that case, Justice Elizabeth Gloster, concluded in her ruling last week that “From its incorporation and at all material times … Etete had a substantial beneficial interest in Malabu.”

Etete said he was only a consultant to the company, but he represented the company in the court case and in all negotiations with the oil majors, and he told the court he was the sole signatory to its accounts.

Documents relating to Obi’s London case show that both Shell and ENI met several times with Etete to negotiate the deal. An email from a Shell employee to another middleman recounts how he met Etete for face-to-face negotiations over “lots of iced champagne”.

Obi said in court he approached ENI on Malabu’s behalf on December 24, 2009, and introduced Etete to an ENI representative to discuss the deal.

THE GO-BETWEEN

Global Witness campaigner Tom Mayne said: “It’s obvious from the meetings Shell and ENI both had with Dan Etete that they knew he was the person to speak to and then agreed that the deal be structured in such a way that it went through the government.”

Babatunde Oluajo, national secretary of Zero Corruption Coalition, told Reuters his Nigerian campaign group had asked the UK government to look into the matter.

“In regard to our … commitment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria … we wish to … formally request for a full investigation into the activities of … companies and individuals in the procurement of the OPL 245 in Nigeria,” reads a letter the group sent to the UK High Commissioner on July 5.

Nigerian lawmakers also began investigating the deal last week to ascertain if Attorney General Mohammed Aboke, who helped finalise the deal with Eni and Shell, had acted properly, as his involvement only came to light in the London court case.

Aboke said he was acting in the interests of all parties to facilitate a deal and end the long-running ownership dispute over the oil block. He also said in a press report last week that resolving the dispute would help the government attract investment into the oil and gas sector.

The investigations highlight the regulatory risks faced by oil companies doing business in African countries with a history of weak governance and endemic corruption.

In the five years Abacha was in power, he liberally dished out oil blocks to political allies and is suspected of having enriched himself to the tune of about $4 billion before he died.

Malabu had been registered on April 24th, 1998, five days before Etete awarded it block OPL 245. Three months later, Abacha died.

Though Malabu’s original shareholders had been Abacha’s son and allies – and Etete himself, according to the British judge in Obi’s court case – the company secretary Rasky Gbinigie told the court he had lost all the documents showing who owned it now.

The ownership of OPL 245 had also been unclear ever since the government annulled the initial award to Malabu in 2001, and then awarded it first to Shell and then back to Malabu after a series of court cases.

Shell was still pursuing action to recover the block when it finally struck the deal to buy it with ENI in 2011.