Malabu Oil Scandal: Again, FG Fails to Arraign Adoke, Etete, Others

Again, Federal Government, Tuesday, failed to file charges against the former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke (SAN), a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete, Oil giant, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company and Eni Spa and four others over their alleged involvement in $1.1bn Malabu oil deal.
The Federal Government had approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to arraign the former Ministers and others for their roles in the much talked about Malabu Oil Bloc scandal.
However, at the resumed hearing Tuesday, the prosecution counsel, Johnson Ojogbane, sought for adjournment on grounds of the inability of the Federal Government to secure the attendance of the defendants in the matter.
According to him, most of them are outside the country and the government is making efforts to make them attend their trial or be extradited.
The matter was subsequently adjourned to October 26, 2017.
Adoke, who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, is facing two separate criminal charges, following his alleged involvement in oil bloc fraud.
He was accused of playing a major role in an alleged fraudulent deal that saw the transfer of ownership of a disputed Oil Prospecting License, OPL, 245, to two multinational oil companies, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company and Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd.
The Federal Government had, on April 3, 2017, approached the Court with a request for guidance on whether to issue an arrest warrant against Adoke.
Ccounsel to the Federal Government, Johnson Ojogbane, had told the trial Judge, Justice John Tsoho, that the Federal Government is experiencing some difficulties in serving the former AGF, since he is outside the jurisdiction of the court.
According to the prosecution counsel, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has the power to arrest anybody anywhere but when the person is not within the jurisdiction of the court, (outside the country) it becomes difficult.
He also said, if the order seeking to arrest Adoke is granted, it will become easier for security agents to liaise with the International Police (INTERPOL) to initiate extradition moves.
After listening to the submissions of the Federal Government, the trial Judge, Justice John Tsoho had directed government to make a proper application before the court, adding that such applications was not done orally.
The Judge also said if Adoke was already arraigned before the court and was attempting to escape, it would have become proper to issue such a warrant of arrest.
“Once a person has been arraigned before a court and is attempting to escape, then it becomes necessary to issue a warrant of arrest; but in this case, Adoke has not been arraigned before this court. The matter is still at investigative stage, so such an order is not necessary” Justice Tsoho held.
EFCC had in December 2016, charged nine suspects, including the former AGF, over their alleged involvement in the Malabu oil scandal.
Adoke was accused of illegally transferring more than $800 million purportedly meant for the purchase of the OPL 245 to Dan Etete and Malabu Oil.
The Federal Government had also on March 2, 2017, filed fresh charges against two multinational oil firms, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited and Agip Nigeria Exploration Limited, for alleged complicity in the scandal.
Others charged along-side the two oil giants are Adoke, Chief Etete; Aliyu Abubakar, ENI SPA, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafati Sebestiano and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

Author: News Editor

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