Court Okays Detention Of Former AGF Adoke For Another 14 Days

A former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, returns to Nigeria aboard Emirates Airlines Flight 785 on Thursday. Photo: Twitter- @officialEFCC

 

The Federal Capital Territory High Court has granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) permission to detain the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), for another 14 days.

Justice Othman Musa on December 20, granted the EFCC an initial 14 days to detain Mr Adoke to complete investigation, which elapsed on Thursday.

Mr Adoke was handed over to the EFCC by International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) upon arrival from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates on December 19 and taken into custody for his alleged involvement in the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest Another Abuja Bank Robbery Suspect

According to a statement by the Head, Media & Publicity of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, the fresh application was granted by Justice Musa in preparatory to Adoke’s arraignment.

Justice Musa, while granting the application, stated that “the extension of the remand of the respondent for another 14 days for the purpose of his arraignment in court is necessary and granted as prayed.”

The former AGF who has been away from the country stalled the trial forcing the anti-graft agency to obtain an arrest warrant against them on April 17, 2019.

Read full statement below:

EFCC Press Release

Court Gives EFCC Nod to Detain Adoke for Additional 14 Days

Justice A.O. Musa of Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, January 2, 2020, granted the application of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to keep the former attorney general and minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke in its custody for additional 14 days preparatory to his arraignment.

In granting the application, the judge stated that “the extension of the remand of the respondent for another 14 days for the purpose of his arraignment in court is necessary and granted as prayed.”

The Commission took custody of Adoke on December 19, 2019, upon his arrival from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Adoke who fled the country in 2015, has pending criminal charge of alleged abuse of office and money laundering in respect of the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI.

It would be recalled that the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked the OPL 245, which the late General Sani Abacha granted Dan Etete, his then Petroleum Minister, and reassigned it to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO.

Etete’s Malabu Oil and Gas, however, reclaimed the oil block in 2006 through the court. While Shell challenged the decision, a ‘fraudulent settlement and resolution’ was consummated under President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, with Shell and ENI buying the oil block from Malabu in the sum of $1.1billion.

Investigations by the EFCC 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 against  Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep (SNUD), Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) and their officials, culminating in criminal charges against Adoke, Etete, and others, which are pending in both the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court, Abuja

The absence of the defendants slowed the prosecution of the suspects, forcing the EFCC to obtain an arrest warrant against them on April 17, 2019.

Adoke, however, arrived the country on Thursday, December 19, 2019, from Dubai, United Arab Emirates into the waiting arms of EFCC operatives at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

His return has now cleared the way for him to answer to the charges against him.

Justice Musa adjourned the case to enable its assignment by the Chief Judge.

Wilson Uwujaren

Head, Media & Publicity

2 January, 2020

Court Orders Remand Of Former AGF Adoke For 14 Days

 

A Federal Capital Territory High Court has granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), 14 days to detain former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, to complete investigation.

Mr Adoke was handed over to the EFCC by International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) on Thursday and taken into custody for his alleged involvement in the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI.

Justice Othman Musa of the FCT High Court Bwari sitting as a vacation judge gave the order as prayed by the EFCC’s counsel, Fatima Mustapha, to further detain the immediate past AGF for 14 days to enable it to conclude its investigations.

RELATED: Adoke Returns To Nigeria, Whisked Away To INTERPOL Office

EFCC Detains Adoke Over Malabu Oil Scandal

The anti-graft agency had sought a request from the Court in Abuja on April 17 to secure a warrant of arrest against Adoke and four others, after attempts to produce the defendants in court failed.

The court granted the request by the EFCC, leading to Adoke’s arrest by the police in Dubai in November.

His arrest was confirmed by the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, during a courtesy visit to the EFCC headquarters.

See the court papers below:

Sagay Confirms Arrest Of Adoke In Dubai

 

The chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay has confirmed the arrest of former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke.

Prof Sagay during a courtesy visit to the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the arrest is the latest success in the fight against corruption under the federal government.

Mr. Adoke is facing criminal charges bordering on alleged abuse of office and money laundering with respect to the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI, brought against him and four others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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

His arrest follows a warrant issued by a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja requested by the EFCC.

He added that the fight against corruption is gaining momentum under the Buhari-led Federal Government due to the fightback from its beneficiaries.

“The former attorney General Adoke has been arrested in Dubai. It’s a continuous thing, so when Nigerians pretend and say what is the difference this government has brought into the fight against corruption, what has been achieved? There is no difference, it amazes me. For me, it’s a sign of patent bad faith being expressed by the elite who were the beneficiaries of corruption.

“They are undergoing the pains of having to earn their living, rather than simply collecting easy money where people were building edifices without any sign of employment of any sort. There has been a lot of change and the EFCC activities are responsible for most of this change.”

READ ALSO: Malabu Oil Scandal: Adoke Asks Court To Set Aside Order Of Arrest

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 had been difficult for it to serve them the charges or produce them in court as a result of their absence from the country.

The court asked the EFCC in October, to serve the criminal charges to Mr. Adoke by substituted means, after lifting the initial warrant against the defendant due to their unavailability.

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.

READ ALSO: Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Apologises For Benue Killings

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.

FG To Open Fresh Investigations On OPL 245

 

The Federal Government has announced plans to revisit the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 awarded to Malabu Oil in 2011 by the previous administration.

The chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla disclosed this at an anti-corruption situation room in Abuja on Wednesday.

Read Also: FG Approves Reduction Of NECO Fees, Cost Of JAMB Forms

According to him, the move is aimed at compelling oil companies operating in Nigeria that have continuously evaded the payment of tax to fulfil their obligations.

Obono-Obla says public servants mentioned in the panama papers for owning offshore assets are also being investigated.

Reps To Summon Goodluck Jonathan Over Malabu Deal

The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on OPL 245 is set to invite former President Goodluck Jonathan to testify in the ongoing investigation over the Malabu Oil deal.

The committee noted however that it had conducted an extensive investigation into the OPL 245 saga and that it was drawing to a close.

It, therefore, stated that in the interest of thoroughness, natural justice and fair play, it was imperative that evidence should be taken from the former President.

In arriving at the decision, a statement by the committee noted that it took account of the following facts:

(i) Mr Jonathan was the President at the material time the Ministers brokered the deal that lead to the allegation of $1bn diversion of funds;

(ii) Mr Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan in Italy;

(iii) A U.K. Court Judgment in relation to an application to return part of the money being restrained, castigated the Jonathan Administration as not having acted in the best interest of Nigeria in relation to the ‘deal’;

(iv) The Attorney-General of the Federation at the material time, Mohammed Bello Adoke, has recently instituted proceedings in court wherein he pleads that all his actions were as as instructed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, the Committee has decided to request that former President Goodluck Jonathan gives evidence as to his role in the matter.”

The statement sent by the House, said the Secretariat will write to him asking for his response and submissions.

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.