By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, SAN, has fingered former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the alleged $1.2billion Malabu Oil bloc fraud.
Adoke, who is currently facing two separate criminal charges over alleged role he played in relation to the disputed Oil Prospecting License, OPL, 245, via a letter dated March 6, challenged his predecessor, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, to go ahead and reveal to Nigerians that the said illicit transaction started under the watch of ex-President Obasanjo.
OPL 245 is regarded as one of the biggest oil blocs in Africa.
FG had alleged that Adoke, a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, an oil mogul, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, had sometime in 2000, corruptly received the aggregate sum of $801,000,000.00 (Eight hundred and one million Dollars) in relation to the grant of oil prospecting license in respect of OPL 245 from Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd, and ENI SPA.
It told the Federal High Court in Abuja that investigations revealed that Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and SPDC secured OPL 245 through fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company and some government officials.
Aside Shell and Agip who are still laying claim to the controversial oil bloc, FG also cited four Italians, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafati Sebestiano and ENI SPA, as defendants in the suit marked CR/124/17 and dated February 28, pending before the high court.
Meanwhile, in his letter, Adoke, insisted that the deal was brokered by Obasanjo with the Terms of Settlement executed by the then AGF, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN.
He maintained that the deal was concluded before the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan who he said approved the final implementation of the Terms of Settlement.
Adoke said he only executed the resolution agreements since the implementation was situated in the Federal Ministry of Justice, saying recent actions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, “was to impugn a settlement done in the national interest”.
While tasking Malami to reveal the truth, Adoke said, “As the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, you have a public duty to speak on this matter so that Nigerians would know whether I acted malafide or abused my office in the entire transaction leading to the final implementation of the Settlement.
“Nigerians need to know whether your predecessors in office from 2006 to May 2015 acted in the national interest when they brokered and implemented the Settlement.
“It will also be instructive for Nigerians to know whether your predecessors were carrying out their personal agenda or that their respective actions were carried out with the knowledge and approval of their respective Principals.
“I believe it is your responsibility to explain to the public who are being sold a fiction that the transaction started from President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR under whose administration the Terms of Settlement were brokered with Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, as the then Attorney General who executed the Terms of Settlement before the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR who approved the final implementation of the Terms of Settlement and my humble self who executed the resolution agreements.
“This is more so as the Settlement and its implementation were situated in the Federal Ministry of Justice.
“Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, your response is crucial because it has become glaring that the actions of the EFCC in respect of the transaction are not in the national interest; but rather in furtherance of a plot to serve the interests of some powerful families and individuals who are aggrieved by my refusal to accede to their requests to compel Malabu to pay them certain sums from the proceeds of its divestment in OPL 245, and the subsequent re-allocation of the Block to Shell/ENI.
“You will recall that I had on several occasions asserted this fact. I am therefore surprised that a national institution is being used to further the interest of individuals whose claim or shareholding in Malabu remains shady and prefer to engage proxies to fight their battles.
“If you find that I had breached my Oath of Office or abused my office, please do not hesitate to bring me to justice. However, if it is the contrary, as I strongly believe, that certain individuals who had vowed to even scores with me are now being aided by state institutions such as the EFCC; I deserve protection from these unwarranted attacks and dehumanising treatment that I am being subjected to merely because I chose to serve my fatherland.”
Meantime, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja will on Monday, determine whether or not Shell and Agip should be allowed to retain ownership of the disputed OPL 245, pending their trial over the alleged $1.2billion fraud.