Adoke protests against continued detention in Dubai
Demands removal of name from Malabu oil scam trial
A former attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) has decried what he described as “his continued illegal detention” by the INTERPOL in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Adoke, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), yesterday told the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja that he was still being held in Dubai despite the order made by the court on October 25 vacating its earlier arrest warrant issued against him.
Ozekhome lodged the complaint at the resumed hearing of a fresh suit instituted by Adoke against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on November 6 praying the court to strike out his name from earlier charges filed against him, Shell Production Limited and nine others by the anti-graft agency.
The former minister was arrested on November 11 in Dubai and there have been media reports of a move by the Nigerian authorities for his extradition to Nigeria to face charges on the alleged Malabu oil scandal. Specifically, the anti-corruption commission had in 2017 filed charges against Adoke and the others in a case bordering on alleged fraudulent allocation of the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 and other offences, including a $1.2 billion fraud, forgery of bank documents, bribery and corruption.
The alleged $1.2 billion scam involved the transfer of the OPL 245 purportedly from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited to Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Co. Limited and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited.
A sitting of the court presided over by Justice Danladi Senchi at the FCT High Court, Jabi District, had on April 17 issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Adoke and other defendants in the case. The judge, however, vacated the arrest warrant on October 25, following an application made by Ozekhome before the court to that effect.At yesterday’s hearing, Ozekhome informed the court that the former AGF had filed an application seeking the removal of his name from the charge sheet.
According to the senior advocate, the application was filed on November 5 but was served on the prosecution by the court bailiff on November 27. He stated that the prosecution counsel, Offem Uket, told him (Ozekhome) that he (Uket) was away when the application was served on the prosecution and as such could not respond to it appropriately. He then disclosed that both parties had agreed that the matter be adjourned till Wednesday, December 4 to enable the prosecution to respond to Adoke’s application.
This was confirmed by Uket, who promised that by Tuesday (today), he would have responded, filed and served a response to the application. Ozekhome further informed the court that despite its October 25 order setting aside the arrest warrant issued on Adoke, the former AGF was still being held in Dubai.
The senior advocate informed the court that Adoke protested against his arrest by the Interpol, which he said was against Chapter 3 of the Interpol Article since the said warrant had been vacated by the court that initially issued it.He added that all decent steps to ensure that the former AGF was released, including writing the EFCC, Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), UAE authorities and the Interpol, had been taken but did not yield any result.
Lamenting the situation, Ozekhome said “it is the duty of the AGF to ensure that the rights of every Nigerian citizen are protected.”Justice Senchi adjourned the case till today to hear the application.In the application, Adoke is praying for an order of the court “striking out the name of Bello Mohammed Adoke (SAN), as a defendant in charge number FCT/HC/CR/124/17 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Co Ltd & 10 others, pending before this honourable court.”He hinged the prayer, among others, on the fact that he had secured a judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja against the attorney-general of the federation, representing the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in which he was completely exculpated with respect to the facts and circumstances relating to the Malabu oil scam.
Ozekhome argued that having been exonerated in the scandal by Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, the inclusion of Adoke’s name as a defendant in the criminal case was erroneous.According to the senior advocate, EFCC concealed the April 13, 2018 judgment by Justice Nyako in which the court held that Adoke could not be held liable for any infraction in the whole Malabu oil saga for carrying out a presidential directive from the FCT High Court.