By Innocent Anaba
Former Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to withdraw its case against him at the Federal High Court, Abuja because of the “damning revelations” from the ongoing trial of Shell and ENI in Italy.
In a statement weekend in response to media claims by EFCC that it had established a prima facie case of corruption against him on the OPL 245 transaction, Adoke said the in-coming Attorney-General of the Federation needed to put an end to “this joke of a trial by the EFCC” and lay the matter to rest as there was clearly no shred of evidence to convict him of wrongdoing.
Adoke said: “The ongoing trial of Shell and ENI officials in Italy has exposed the lies that EFCC has been cooking up against me. Mr Ednan Tofik only Agaev, a former Russian ambassador, said in court that he mentioned my name as one of those who benefited from the OPL 245 deal because of pressure from the FBI. He said the FBI interview cannot be used against him in court. That is an eye-opener for those who are interested in justice.
“A few days later, Mr Vincenzo Armanna, former ENI manager, told the same court that I confronted ENI officials that if anyone gave a bribe, they would be arrested and prosecuted. These statements were made in the open court and reported by the media globally. Yet the same EFCC, in a strange press release on Thursday, said the statements in the Italian court are of no relevance to the criminal charge against me in Nigeria.”
Ironically, the EFCC had used the same case in Italy as evidence that my trial in Nigeria should continue contrary to the advice of the Office of the AGF. Suddenly, the trial in Italy is of no relevance again because it does not fit into their predetermined agenda against me.”
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It will be recalled that the EFFC In the statement by Mr Tony Oriade, its acting Head, Media & Publicity, had said Adoke abused his office in granting OPL 245 to Shell and ENI in 2011 but the former minister has described the claim as “ridiculous, ill-informed and full of ignorance” which Nigerians should treat with disdain.
But Adoke said, “OPL 245 was not even awarded to Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd by President Goodluck Jonathan, under whose administration I served as Attorney-General. It was awarded by Gen. Sani Abacha in 1998. It was revoked by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who later decided to return the oil block to Malabu after an out-of-court settlement. The only thing I did as AGF was to advise President Jonathan that legally speaking, the Consent Judgement reached by Obasanjo was valid and subsisting and should be respected.
“At the time, Shell was making an arbitral claim of $2 billion against Nigeria over President Obasanjo’s decision to return the oil block to Malabu in 2006. Ordinarily, I should be commended for helping my country avoid such a huge fine. Nevertheless, it is nothing but unadulterated mischief by the EFCC to say I am being tried for granting an oil block to Malabu. Even a primary school pupil knows that the Attorney-General does not award oil blocks. All oil blocks are awarded by the President on the advice of the Ministry of Petroleum. It is part of the evil agenda and vendetta against me that I would be accused of awarding an oil block, as the EFCC shamelessly claimed in their bizarre press release.
“JP Morgan, which made the payments to Malabu, did not mention by name in court as one of those who authorised the payment. These are now public documents. I was not a signatory to the account. I had no powers to order payments. All I gave was legal advice on the letters of the Resolution Agreement, but EFCC’s puppet masters were so desperate to come after me that they painted me as corrupt and attributed all the powers I didn’t have to me. The Federal High Court under the Hon. Justice Binta Nyako ruled that I was not liable for carrying out lawful presidential orders, but the EFCC has now assumed the role of interpreting the court judgment as it suits their whims and caprices, even openly showing absolute disrespect for the office of the AGF.”