International Passport seized, detained at Idiagbon House, Wuse 2
To be quizzed by crack operatives on Malabu, $850m pay to P&ID
I’ve not been briefed about Ex-AGF, Adoke’s return to Nigeria—Malami
My client returned voluntarily, Ozekhome insists
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Abuja— The trial of former Justice Minister, Mohammed Adoke, over his role in the $1.3 billion Malabu Oil scandal may begin any moment from now, following his arrival in Nigeria yesterday.
Adoke, who arrived aboard an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER flight from the United Arab Emirates, UAE, where he had been detained by the International Police Organisation, Interpol, based on arrest warrant obtained by the EFCC, touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 3:45pm.
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However, Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said yesterday he has not been notified of the return of Adoke from Dubai.
But Security sources said Adoke was handed over to the EFCC Director of Operations and a Nigerian Interpol representative at the airport by a three-man Dubai Interpol delegation that accompanied him to Nigeria.
The former minister, who spotted a white caftan and white cap and a pair of black sandals to match, was immediately surrounded by hordes of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission operatives who had been monitoring his movement from the Middle-East.
The EFCC operatives, thereafter, seized Adoke’s passport and took him in their vehicle as he stepped out of the aircraft. He was calm and unruffled all through the operation, wearing a safety mask.
The EFCC officials drove the former minister to Formella Street in Wuse 2 and detained him at Idiagbon House, where its high calibre suspects are usually detained and questioned.
A top source confirmed to Vanguard that Adoke would be quizzed by its crack team of investigators over the Malabu oil deal, in connection with the latest scam on Process and Industrial Development over which Nigeria had been levied $9.6 billion by a British court.
“The source said: “Our agents want to know from Adoke why he wrote the controversial memo asking former President Jonathan to pay $850 million as final settlement to P&ID.
“Don’t forget that President Jonathan declined to pay such money and referred the payment to President Muhammadu Buhari, whose administration is now being confronted with $9.6 billion fine.’’
How Adoke returned
Although initial reports by two online sites had claimed that Adoke left Dubai ‘voluntarily’ to return to Nigeria, credible sources confirmed to Vanguard that the former minister was actually escorted to Nigeria by some Interpol officials, based on an understanding between him and EFCC on one hand, and the Interpol in Dubai on another hand.
Under the gentleman agreement, Adoke agreed to return to Nigeria and report to the EFCC in relation to the charges it filed against him, while Interpol would not put him on trial in the UAE as was initially contemplated.
“Following series of meetings between EFCC boss and Dubai authorities, Adoke had departed Dubai for Nigeria.
“The ex-AGF left Dubai, following pressure from EFCC. He is being accompanied by Interpol officers on Emirates Airlines Flight 785. The aircraft departed the Emirate commercial capital at about 11am Dubai time (8am Nigerian time). He is expected to “arrive Abuja at about 3:40 pm.
“The commission will take necessary action on his arrival and the ex-AGF will surely have his day in court,” an EFCC official said earlier yesterday.
Adoke, who was arrested and detained by Interpol in Dubai on November 12, 2019, had been confronted with conspiracy, official corruption and money laundering charges.
He, therefore, volunteered a terse statement at the Dubai Police Headquarters, details of his Nigerian Passport with No. A 50003465 were booked and was issued with a local No. 83625777 by Interpol.
The former minister was also made to sign an undertaking which he wrote thus: “I would go to Nigerian authorities to solve my problems without any stress or pressure from Dubai Police or anyone.”
But EFCC appeared to have taken offence by Adoke’s claim that he voluntarily returned to Nigeria without mentioning the fact that he had bowed to pressure from it to be brought back by Interpol to face trial over the Malabu Oil scam.
It was not clear at press time whether EFCC would take the former minister to court at once to face trial or if Adoke would return to court to press for his release.
Adoke, who had maintained that he had done no wrong in the transfer of $1.3 billion the EFCC claimed had been laundered, said he acted on the directive of the former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
He insists that the money was paid to end protracted legal tussle that was threatening to cost the country more cash and distort investments in the oil sector, if truce was not reached and the cash paid to the beneficiaries, including Dan Etete.
I’ve not been briefed — Malami
Reacting to the development, yesterday, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said he was yet to be briefed on Adoke’s return to the country.
The AGF, who spoke to judiciary correspondents at the Federal Ministry of Justice headquarters in Abuja, said he was yet to receive a formal briefing on Adoke’s arrival to the country.
On the Federal Government’s next line of action, in respect of pending criminal charge the EFCC preferred against the ex-AGF over his alleged complicity in the $1.2billion Malabu Oil bloc scam, Malami, said he would not comment on a matter already before the court.
He said: “I think there are multiple judicial cases pending before the judiciary and against the background of subsisting principle of the law, I wouldn’t want to comment one way or the other in that respect or direction because I cannot be talking in pre-emptive sense or preempting the judicial position as it relates to the matter.
“I am equally not in a position to confirm the statement relating to the arrival of the former Attorney General in Nigeria as I have not been officially briefed in that respect. Until I am formally briefed, I am not in a position to comment on it, one way or the other.’’
My client returned ‘voluntarily’ — Ozekhome
However, Adoke’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, in a statement yesterday, insisted that his client returned to the country “voluntarily.”
Ozekhome further attached pictorial evidence of a flight tickets he said was “self-purchased” by the embattled former AGF who served under the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The statement read: “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, November 11, 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 April 17, 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 October 25, 2019, following our challenge of the ex parte 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 April 17, 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 Hon. 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 December 21, 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 advice 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 government 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 Mr Adoke. Mr Edan Tofik Ogly 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, December 19, 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.’’