By Soni Daniel
After nearly five years of struggling in vain to pin him down to face trial over alleged receipt of $801.5 million bribe from three international oil companies in relation to the grant of Oil Prospecting License to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission appears to be getting close to bringing the former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, to have his day in court in the country.
The anti-graft agency, Vanguard learnt is cashing in on the arrest and detention of Adoki by International Criminal Police Organization, widely known as INTERPOL, in Dubai, one of the most visited cities in the United Arap Emirates, following the arrest warrant issued against him by the Federal Capital Territory High Court on request of the EFCC.
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This comes, as the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has refused to comment on the development, saying that he had not been briefed officially on the matter as required by conventions and processes.
A top official of the EFCC confirmed to Vanguard last night that the commission had on learning of the arrest of the former minister took advantage of the development to move for his immediate extradition to the country to face prosecution, which he had been dodging in the last five years.
The senior official, who pleaded anonymity, said that in a bid to ensure that Adoke would not plead that there was no charge against him, having been living in self-imposed exile in Europe since leaving office and dodging service of the charges, the EFCC had served him through the INTERPOL.
The official said: “We have already scanned and dispatched the charges against Mohammed Adoke and others on our list to the INTERPOL, which is keeping him in Dubai. We are moving fast to get him extradited to face trail in Nigeria, something he has been dodging in the last five years.
“We are doing this because we have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the UAE and other countries around the world to send a very strong message to those who looted this country and are now flaunting illegal wealth that there is no hiding place anywhere for them.
Vanguard gathered that apart from obtaining an arrest warrant against Adoke and nine others in relation to the OPL 245 deal worth $1.3 billion, which was allegedly facilitated by Adoke and others in 2011, the EFCC also filed charges against him and three oil firms in the country.
The firms are: Shell Nigeria Exploration Production and Shell Nigeria Exploration Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Eni SPA, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Dauzia LOya Etete, alias Dan Etete.
Others on the charge sheet in suit No. CR/124/2017, which Vanguard sighted last night, were: Aliyu Abubakar, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno and Burrafato Sebastiano.
While Adoke is charged for receiving the aggregate sum of $801.5 million as bribe to facilitate the sanctioning of the scandalous $1.3 billion deal brokered in 2011between Nigeria and the oil firms, the IOCs and their chief executives are accused by the EFCC of giving bribe to the former minister, an act which contravenes Section 26 (1) (C) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under sections 9 (1) (a) and 10 (a)(1) of the same Act.
The charge against Adoke, Abubakar, Etete and Malabu in an amended charge, which Vanguard saw last reads: “That you Mohammed Adoke while being the Attorney General of the Federation, Dauzia Loya Etete (AKA Dan Etete), Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited sometime in 2011 within the jurisdiction of this court received an aggregate sum of $801.540 from Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Nigeria Agip Company, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited and ENI SPA in relation to the grant of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL 245) thereby committed and offence.
On the other hand, the charge against the IOCs and their heads reads: “That you Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Nigeria Agip Company, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited and ENI SPA, Ralph Wetzels (while being the Director of SNEPCO), Casula Roberto (Italian) (while being the Director of AGIP), Pujatti Stefeno (Italian) while being Director of AGIP), Burrafato Sebastiano (Italian), (while being Director of AGIP) sometime in 2011 within the jurisdiction of this court corruptly gave an aggregate sum of $801.540 to Mohammed Bello Adoke (who was at that material time the Attorney General of the Federation), Dauzia Loya Etete (AKA Dan Etete), Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited on account of Oil Prospecting License (OPL 245) thereby committed an offence”.
But the camp of Adoke was moving fast with his lawyers on Monday to brief the Dubai authorities that the Warrant of Arrest which the EFCC had obtained from an FCT High Court in relation to his arrest had been vacated by the same court last month and that there was no basis by the INTERPOL to hold him.
The lawyers were said to be moving towards presenting the court order to the Dubai authorities and at the same time trying to get the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to attest that the Warrant had been vacated since he is the signatory to the MLAT between Nigeria and UAE, where Adoke is being held.
But it was learnt that the EFCC is had an upper hand against Adoke since the FCT High Court merely vacated the warrant of arrest against him but did not discharge or acquit him of the corruption charges, which the commission has presented to the INTERPOL as evidence to arrest and repatriate him to Nigeria for prosecution.
Why I can’t speak on Adoki’s arrest in Dubai by INTERPOL-AGF, Malami
But the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has declined comment on the development, saying that he had not been informed officially by the Dubai or Interpol on the matter.
“I can’t speak speculatively,” Malami said when press for confirmation of the development, according to a statement by his media aide, Dr. Umar Jubrilu Gwandu, made available to Vanguard on Monday.
“My office as the Attorney General Federation and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not in receipt of any formal communication regarding the alleged arrest in line with international conventions, processes and procedures relating to such matter.
“Until such formal communication is received the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will not comment speculatively in one way or the other over the matter,” Malami said.