The former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on Thursday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to declare the criminal charge instituted against him and others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as invalid.
The EFCC is prosecuting Adoke, including former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, and others for fraud in the $1.1bn Malabu oil block case.
They are accused by the EFCC of diverting the huge amount in a series of fraudulent transactions resulting in the transfer of the rich oil well, OPL 245.
But in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/446/2017 and filed before Justice Binta Nyako, on his behalf by former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), Adoke said that whatever decision or action he took while in office, was in accordance with the dictate of the office as AGF
At a resumed sitting, Thursday, Agabi tendered documents showing that the present Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had advised the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu to drop the criminal charge against Adoke.
To buttress his submission, Adoke through his counsel, tendered a letter before the court, written by Malami
The AGF’s letter dated September 20, 2017 was a reply to one written by Magu titled, “Forwarding of case file in respect of charge in FHC/ABJ/ CR/268; Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd”.
Magu wrote the letter on December 21, 2016, wherein he forwarded the case file to the AGF for vetting and further directive.
In response, Malami stated, “Having fully examined the entire case, I am inclined to request you to reconsider the charge in relation to.the composition of the parties, the offences, the proof of evidence and the case summary in view of the fact that nothing in the proof of evidence appear to have directly linked the parties to the offences as charged”.
Malami stated that a “curious observation of the entire file clearly indicate the proof of evidence is unlikely to support the count which borders on fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
“The following reasons are apt, there is nothing to show that parties as constituted where at all times working together and having a meeting of the ‘mind to wit’: to forge CAC documents and use it for purpose of divesting the shares of the complainant and thereafter, enter into a document agreement with the Federal Government and other parties to take delivery of the proceeds of sale of OPL 245.
More so, the AGF advised that “There is also nothing in the proof of evidence to support the charge of money laundering.
“I view, and rightly so that, there are other key players, non public officials who are very relevant parties given their actions in divesting the complainant shares by the alleged forgery, you are to also forward your comments explaining the reason for not charging the principal players such as Rasky Gbinigie, who was the company Secretary of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and instrumental in the filings of all CAC forms that fraudently changed the Directors and the shares structure of the company: Seidugha Munamuna and Kweku Amefegha who are company Directors who hold various shares.
“The EFCC investigation and attached proof of evidence to the nine count charge does not appear to have clearly reviewed the case of fraud against the parties who claimed to have acted in their capabilities with the approval of three consecutive Presidents of the Federal Government of Nigeria at the time and with claimed intentions that the matter be resolved in the national interest saving the nation from acrimonious litigations resulting into high legal fees and non production of the oil field while litigation lasted” the AGF stated.
“On the above grounds, I am of the considered view that there is the need to consolidate on the charges and the matter be thoroughly investigated especially regarding the allocations of the wrong doing in connection with the $1.1billion dollars in order to satisfy the constituent elements of offenses.
“You are to also take steps to urgently file an application for a world wide mareva injunction and or the forfeiture of the assets of the beneficiary of the $1.1dollars pending the conclusion of investigation of the areas above stated.
Another document tendered before the court by Adoke was a letter dated December 13, 2017, written by the Minister of Petroleum for State, Ibe Kachikwu, to the Presidency.
In the letter, the Minister said: “I am of the considered view that following the advice of the Attorney-General, the Federal Government is obliged to respect the resolutions of the settlement agreement entered by the Federal Government with respect to OPL 245 given.
“The consistent role of three predecessor Presidents in this matter and the potential negative view of Nigeria that they may follow should international arbitration ensue from this, Kachikwu stated.
“My experience is that the potency of bilateral investment treaties upon which a claim could be made on Nigeria is such that any attempt to abrogate the settlement agreement or take any steps that will undermined it’s integrity could prove costly to the country.
“In the circumstances and following the advice of the AGF, I respectfully recommend that the Federal Government should take advantage of the settlement agreement to acquire an interest in OPL 245 and ensure its conversation to a production sharing contract between the Federal Government and relevant parties”.
But in opposing the plaintiff’s suit, the Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, representing the Federal Government argued specifically that, “The position of the government is that the matter pending in the other court is a criminal matter.
“You cannot use a civil suit to truncate another criminal suit’ Apata posited.
“What we are saying is that if there is a criminal suit which has already been filed against the plaintiff, let him go and answer it and not come to another court to truncate it.
“The letter from the Attorney-General is only an opinion saying further investigation should be carried out and more evidence should be considered, it has nothing to do with the legal issues as to whether a case already filed in court can be truncated by a civil suit” Apata said.