The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has taken a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, into custody.
YaahooJournalist reports that in a statement released by Wilson Uwujaren, its spokesman, on Friday evening, EFCC said the former AGF arrived from Dubai “into the waiting arm of operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja”.
The anti-graft agency said Adoke has pending criminal charge “for 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,” it said.
“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 at both the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court, Abuja.”
The EFCC spokesman said his return to Nigeria “clears the way for him to answer to the charges against him”.
Mike Ozekhome, Adoke’s counsel, said he was picked up on arrival on Thursday by Interpol officials.
Adoke had voluntarily returned to the country after he was released by Dubai police following a legal deadlock on Nigeria’s request to repatriate him to stand trial over the controversial OPL 245 transaction.
The EFCC later released Adoke’s picture on its official Twitter handle but this was after Ozekhome had earlier issued a statement announcing Adoke’s return and explaining why he chose to return to the country.
OZEKHOME’S FULL STATEMENT
AFTER MR MOHAMMED BELLO ADOKE’S UNWARRANTED PERSECUTION, HE RETURNS TO NIGERIA VOLUNTARILY FOLLOWING LEGAL GRIDLOCK
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. Adoke, based on our legal advice, has therefore decided to break this unnecessary logjam and simulated stalemate that are already causing Nigeria international embarrassment by buying his own ticket to return to Nigeria voluntarily and peaceably,instead of going to another country of his choice. It must be pointed out that, Mr Adoke had been out of Nigeria voluntarily since May, 2015, upon the expiration of his tenure as Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. In his undertaking before the Dubai authorities, Adoke signed as follows: “I would go to Nigeria authorities to solve my problem, and without any stress or pressure from Dubai Police or anyone.” He was not then under any investigation,nor charged before any court of law by the EFCC or any other anti-graft agency howsoever. It was only on 21st December, 2016,nearly one and half years after he went to the Netherlands to pursue his masters (LL.M) degree programme in Public International Law, with specialization in International Criminal Law, at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. That the EFCC charged him before the FCT High Court on his alleged role in the OPL 245 transaction. Our client verily believes he has done no wrong in merely carrying out his statutory duties. Indeed, his houses in Kano and Okene in Kogi state were extensively searched even in his absence, with the EFCC finding nothing incriminating against Adoke.
While our client is thankful to the Almighty God for seeing him through this unwarranted humiliation despite its debilitating impact on his health, he hereby reiterates, for the umpteenth time, that he is not and has never been afraid to face trail in Nigeria, over any perceived role he played in the OPL 245 transaction. He believes he did no wrong. The extent of his involvement as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation at all material times, he insists, involved in merely giving out well founded legal to the then government of the day regarding the transaction,as the then Attorney General of the Federation and the Chief Law Officer. He had advised the then to implement the extant and subsisting consent court judgement of a court of Law, which had been voluntarily agreed upon and consented to between the Government of Nigeria and. He had advised the then president to implement the Consent Judgement of a court of law which was voluntarily agreed to between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, over the OPL 245 dispute of 2006. He insists that there was no abuse of office howsoever on his part as Attorney General of the Federation. He has repeatedly said and he now reiterates it again and again that he did not collect one kobo or any sum howsoever,from the oil and gas transaction. He stands by this truism.
Indeed, it must be pointed out that two witnesses who have testified at the ongoing trial of the oil companies in Milan, Italy, have both exonerated MrAdoke. Mr Edan Tofikogly Agaev, a former Russian Ambassador to Colombia, said he was pressured in to mentioning a name in his interrogation by FBI and he consequently called Adoke’s name. He has therefore refused to adopt or accept his involuntary statement which he made. He therefore refused to adopt his involuntary statement he made to the FBI in court. The other, Mr Vincenzo Armanna, a former ENI manager, who is also on trial, told the same court that, our client that our client had in fact threatened to arrested and prosecute ENI officials for attempting to negotiate kickbacks in the transaction. Our client insists that this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
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.