From Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation
Former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) has protested to his successor, Abubakar Malami (SAN), over the conduct of the Federal Government’s counsel in Milan in the ongoing trial of some oil firms over Malabu Oil Block( OPL 245).
He said the counsel, Mr. Lucio Lucia, has allegedly been making deliberate false statements against him.
Adoke urged Malami to call Lucia to order in order to preserve the dignity and respect of his high office, adding that the AGF should prevent his rights from being trampled upon by “foreign elements acting in cohort with their Nigerian collaborators.”
He said it was wrong for the Federal Government’s counsel to claim that he has been indicted on Malabu Oil Block.
According to him, Malami had in a September 20, 2017 letter to the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, said that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by him.
Making his views known in a September 18, 2020 letter to Malami, Adoke said: “May I respectfully present my compliments and draw your esteemed attention to the above subject matter, which I consider injurious to my person and reputation.
“You will recall that since assumption of office, I have written not less than four letters to you on various issues that agitated my mind.
“Regrettably, none of the letters received your dignified response despite evidence of delivery and receipt by your office.
“I am again constrained to write you in respect of the conduct of Mr. Lucio Lucia who is representing the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the on-going proceedings before the Milan Court in Italy. Mr. Lucio Lucia in his submission before the Court on 09/09/2020, on the position of Federal Republic of Nigeria as injured party entitled to civil compensation, had allegedly “reaffirmed the indictment of Mr. Adoke and others in the heist” connection with the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement.
“He proceeded to make other bizarre and unfounded allegations to the effect that I was extradited from Dubai for the corruption related to OPL 245 knowing fully that nothing of sort ever happened and with characteristic audacity, he carelessly reconstructed the evidence on my Mortgage transaction with Unity Bank Plc which is subject of ongoing criminal proceedings in Nigeria to suit his narrative.”
Adoke asked Malami to take notice of some precedents and guide the government’s counsel in Milan.
He added: “It is needless to remind you that my official role as Attorney – General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in the implementation of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement has been the subject of judicial pronouncement by the Federal High Court, Abuja Coram, Binta Nyako, J. dated 13th April, 2018 where the Court stated amongst other things that:
“The involvement of the plaintiff, Mr. Adoke, in the negotiations leading to the implementation of a Settlement Agreement dated 30th November 2006 between Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and the Federal Government of Nigeria and the eventual execution of Bloc 245 Malabu Resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers.”
“The involvement of the plaintiff in the negotiation and eventual execution of the Block 245 SNUD resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Shell Nigerian Ultra Deep and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers.
“The plaintiff cannot be held personally liable for carrying out the lawful /approvals of the President while he served as a Minister of the Government of the Federation.
“As the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice you will recall that apart from the above judicial pronouncement, the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements have been the subject of review of two cabinet Ministers in the present administration.
“The first was when you issued a legal opinion to the former Ag. Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, dated 20th September, 2017 wherein you emphatically stated that in your review of the Agreements, you were unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing on my part.
“Secondly, Dr. Ibe Kachuckwu, in his capacity as the Hon. Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources also reviewed the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements and in his letter to the Chief of Staff to the President dated 13th December 2017 came to the reasoned conclusion that the agreements were in the national interest.
“In the light of the above, I am unable to understand why Mr. Luclo Lucia would be allowed to assert on behalf of the same Federal Government of Nigeria, a position that is contrary to the unassailable declarations in the subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja dated 13th April, 2018 and the views already expressed by your good self as the sitting Attorney-General of the Federation and the former Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, on my role with respect to the implementation of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement.
“While I am not adverse to the Federal Government Claims before the Milan Court, I am however concerned that Mr. Lucio Lucia has been allowed to present to the Court, deliberate false statements against me in support of the Federal Government’s case.
“As a Nigerian, I am not only entitled to the protection of my Government. I therefore feel compelled to request you to call Mr. Lucio Lucia to order in order to preserve the dignity and respect of your high office as well as prevent my rights from being trampled upon by foreign elements acting in cohort with their Nigerian collaborators.
“While awaiting your prompt action and response, please, accept Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, the assurances of my high regards and esteem.”