Nigeria: Malabu Scandal - Adoke's Trial Adjourned

(file photo)
22 January 2020

The trial of a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, was on Wednesday stalled by the failure of the EFCC to serve the charges on some of the defendants.

Justice Idris Kutigi of the Gwagwalada Division of the FCT High Court adjourned the trial to Thursday, based on the agreement of counsel in the matter.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the anti-graft agency on Monday filed multiple charges against Mr Adoke, which include a seven-count charge before the Federal High Court in Abuja and a 12-count charge before the FCT High Court.

The charges include those related to money laundering, denying Nigeria taxes and an alleged N300 million bribe.

In the charge before the FCT High court, the EFCC accused Mr Adoke of accepting gratification to facilitate and negotiate the OPL 245 resolution agreement with Shell, Eni, and their Nigerian subsidiaries.

But at the court proceedings, a counsel to one of the defendants, Bala Sanga, informed the court that the EFCC had failed to serve four of the defendants the court charges. They are Mr Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

Mr Sanga added that the commission only served the charges on some of the defendants including Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited

Justice Kutigi, therefore, adjourned the case till Thursday for the continuation of the trial.

Long Road To Trial

The EFCC had been pursuing Mr Adoke for his role in the controversial Malabu oil scandal regarding the controversial sale of Nigeria's OPL 245 oil field.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how almost half of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni in a controversial OPL 245 deal brokered by Mr Adoke ended in accounts controlled by Mr Aliyu. The oil multinationals paid the money through the Nigerian government to Malabu, a company then controlled by Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister who is on the run.

Malabu, which was illegally awarded OPL 245 when Mr Etete was a minister in 1998, then transferred about half of the money into accounts partly controlled by Mr Aliyu. Mr Aliyu is believed to have shared the money to top officials of Shell and Eni as well as officials of the Jonathan administration. The EFCC believes the N300 million Mr Adoke received in 2013 was his share of the Malabu windfall.

Shell, Eni, and their officials are already being prosecuted in Italy for the scandal.

Mr Adoke has denied any wrongdoing and said he acted on the instructions of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

The former minister went on a self-imposed exile outside Nigeria. He eventually travelled to Dubai where he was arrested by Interpol at the prompting of the EFCC.

Upon his return to Nigeria, he was arrested at the Abuja airport and handed over to the EFCC on December 19.

The EFCC secured an initial court orderto hold Mr Adoke for 14 days following his arrest in Abuja.

Following the expiration of the first order, a judge approved a second order to keep the former attorney-general for another 14 days. That second warrant expired on Monday.

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