Nigeria: Malabu - Police Report Accusing Us of Maligning Adoke Is Fake - Anti-Corruption Group

14 September 2021

HEDA claims the report was used to distract public attention from another police investigation on the Malabu matter.

An anti-corruption group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), has said a police report accusing it and its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, of peddling falsehood against a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, is fake.

"An immediate reach-out to the IGP Monitoring unit dismissed the existence of any such report," HEDA Executive Secretary, Suleiman Arigbabu, said in a statement.

When contacted last Friday for comments on Mr Suraju's allegations, Tunji Wusu, a member of the IGP Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT), asked our reporter to forward him a copy of the indicting police report against the HEDA boss.

But he had yet to respond to the report after calls placed to him as of Tuesday evening.

Mr Adoke, one of those accused of fraud in the OPL 245 scam, loosely referred to as Malabu scandal, had petitioned the police, accusing Mr Suraj and his organisation of circulating fabricated evidence against him to unduly incriminate him.

In a two-page report earlier reported by PREMIUM TIMES, the Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit alleged that Mr Suraju circulated false information about Mr Adoke via his organisation's social media accounts without verifying its authenticity.

The police also alleged Mr Suraju's organisation was unregistered, a claim this newspaper found to be false after carrying out checks on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

HEDA, reacting in a statement, said the circulated report did not emanate from the police.

The copy of the report seen by our reporter was signed for the IGP Monitoring Unit by Ibrahim Musa, an assistant commissioner of police.

Although dated 2 September , the report carried the date of certification of 3 September .

But HEDA insisted the report was fake, adding that it was sponsored by those who intended to distract public attention from the subject matter of an investigation that is already receiving "professional attention from the IGP Monitoring Unit, the Interpol and Cybercrimes Unit of the Police Force."

According to the group, the IGP Monitoring Unit had invited Mr Suraju on 27 March , 2021, after receiving Mr Adoke's petition titled, 'Forgery of Document for Unlawful Purposes of Interference with the Course of Justice'.

It said though, the name of HEDA Resource Centre or Mr Suraj was not mentioned in the petition, the invitation was received by the organisation in good faith and as it saw as an opportunity to assist the police in its investigation.

Contrary to the claims of non-appearance before the police, the group said Mr Suraju had honoured the IGP Monitoring Unit's invitation at his own personal flight and hotel accommodation expenses, and made statements six times between 1 April and Friday, 27 August , 2021.

"On each of these occasions, he has had to bear the cost of flights, taxis and hotels for his trip. The first visit, wherein Mr Suraju was detained and eventually released on bail, is in the public domain" the group stated.

"It is important, as a reminder to the public, that the subject of the petition was a forgery of an email in which Nigeria, as a sovereign State was shortchanged to the tune of $1.1billion and HEDA and its international partners, have been involved in the advocacy for recovery of this money and prosecution of principal actors behind the heist," the group added.

It also stated that to the delight of HEDA and its partners, Nigeria had recovered $75m of this money and the processes for the recovery of the balance are subjects of judicial processes in both the United Kingdom and Italy.

"Every other fabrication of 'cyberstalking, giving false information to "misled" public officer, injurious falsehood and criminal defamation with intent to incite' can only exist in the imagination of the purveyor of the fake report and their collaborators in and out of government," Mr Arigbabu said.

It added that the legal status and background of the organisation was not the subject of investigation as contained in the petition.

It argued that since its registration on February 24, 2004, HEDA in its legal capacity as an incorporated body of trustees had instituted several legal actions at local and international levels, reserved for only organisations with a legal status conferred.

Malabu controversy

The Malabu case, in which the email evidence complained about by Mr Adoke had featured, involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by Shell and ENI through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Dan Etete.

Investigators and activists suspect Mr Etete fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, in the Eni and Shell's controversial acquisition of OPL 245, one of Nigeria's richest oil blocks, which Mr Etete had awarded to his Malabu Oil and Gas Limited while serving as the petroleum minister in the late Sani Abacha regime.

Being the AGF who advised then Goodluck Jonathan administration on the OPL 245 transactions at the time, Mr Adoke has allegedly been linked to bribery of officials and individuals connected with the deal.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has also indicted Mr Adoke accusing him of accepting N300 million from Abubakar Aliyu, a controversial businessman and one of Mr Etete's cronies, as a bribe in connection with the transaction in September 2013.

While Shell and Eni, alongside their managers, were the main defendants in the case in Italy and have been acquitted, Messrs Adoke, Etete and Aliyu have pending cases filed against them by the EFCC in Nigeria.

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