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EFCC refutes THISDAY reports on Malabu oil scandal, says it’s false



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ON Thursday the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, refuted the claims of a media publication which stated that Mohammed Adoke, a former minister of Justice involved in the ongoing Malabu trial was blameless in the $1.2 billion oil scandal.

The report indicated that former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, was exonerated based on a ruling of  Justice Binta Nyako on a 2017 civil suit marked FHC/ABJ/94/446/2017 which absolved Adoke of liability for his alleged roles in the OPL 245 deal on account that he was acting on the directives of the then President Goodluck Jonathan.

EFCC spokesperson, Tony Orilade, in a statement denounced the claims made in the publication saying the EFCC had a strong case in court.

“Logic was stood on its head in the said publication, given that Justice Nyako spelt out in no unclear terms that the reliefs Adoke got in the civil suit he brought before her was to the extent he subordinates himself to the directives of the president.

“In the matter of the OPL 245 and OPL214 deal did not make him ineligible to face criminal charges, arising from his actions in the same transaction,” he said.

Adoke and his accomplices are facing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged roles in the fraudulent allocation of Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245 and OPL 214, conspiracy, money laundering to the tune of over $1.2 billion, forgery of bank documents, and bribery.

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had revoked the OPL 245, which the late General Sani Abacha granted to Etete, who was his Petroleum Minister and reassigned it Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company.

Etete’s Malabu Oil and Gas, however, reclaimed the oil bloc in 2006 through the court. While Shell challenged the decision, a fraudulent settlement and resolution came under Jonathan’s government with Shell and Eni buying the oil block from Malabu in the sum of $1.1 billion.

Investigations by the EFCC revealed that Adoke and others had fraudulently received an aggregate sum of US$ 801,540,000 (Eight hundred million, five hundred and forty thousand United States Dollars) from Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd and ENI SPA in relation to the oil prospecting license.

The investigation also showed that Adoke as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice abused his office in respect of the granting of the oil prospecting license OPL 245 to Shell and ENI.

A prima facie case, bothering on official corruption was established by the EFCC following the investigations, culminating in court charges against Adoke, Etete and others, which is still pending before the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court.

Tony maintained that “the arraignment of Mohammed Adoke SAN, Etete and others could not take place because they along with other defendants have remained at large, refusing to make themselves available for trial and Justice Nyako did not shield Adoke from facing criminal prosecution.”

While he got the relief, Justice Nyako made it clear that there was no nexus between declaratory reliefs he sought and the criminal charges against him in the EFCC suit.

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“The pronouncements of the judge leaves no one in doubt that the court found no link between the criminal charge in Exhibit HAGF and the declaratory reliefs Adoke sought, prompting the court to declare that Exhibit HAGF was extraneous to the determination of this issue Adoke brought before her,” he stated.

He described the newspaper portrayal of Adoke as innocent as misleading with an intention to deceive the public.

“The THISDAY’S publication was an attempt to deceive the public because the attorney general had no need to write such a letter as his office has constitutional powers to take over and discontinue such criminal cases in court so the claims in the publication is not true,” he said.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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