Former AGF, Adoke, returns to Nigeria from exile, after release by Interpol

Former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) has finally regained freedom from the International Police (Interpol) after five weeks in their custody in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The former AGF was arrested on November 11, 2019 in Dubai, by the Interpol immediately he entered the country to seek medical attention.

The Interpol said their action was based on an international bench warrant for Adoke’s arrest issued on April 17, 2019, by Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

However,  Adoke had insisted that his arrest in Dubai was illegal since the purported bench warrant has been vacated by the same court.

The Interpol and the authorities in UAE however, released him yesterday, having found no reason to continue to keep him in their custody.

Confirming Adoke’s release yesterday his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said in a statement that Adoke will voluntarily report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) upon his arrival in Nigeria and added that his client remains very confident that he will be vindicated in the court of law and justice at the end of the day, after a free and fair trial, devoid of the usual media trial and conviction in the public space.

Ozekhome also stated that Adoke tendered before the Interpol, “the 17th of April, 2018, judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered by the Justice Binta Nyako, to the effect that he (Adoke) could not be held liable for obeying lawful presidential directives on the OPL 245 transaction.”

He said the vacation and setting aside of the warrant of arrest order made by Justice Senchi was curiously not communicated to the Interpol or the UAE authorities.

Ozekhome pointed out that Adoke, who had been out of Nigeria voluntarily since May 2015, upon the expiration of his tenure as AGF undertook before the Dubai authorities that he would return to Nigeria to solve his problems without any stress or pressure from Dubai Police or anyone.

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“He was not then under any investigation, nor charged before any court of law by the EFCC or any other anti-graft agency howsoever.

“It was only on 21st December 2016, nearly one and half years after he went to the Netherlands to pursue his masters (LL.M) degree programme in Public International Law, with specialization in International Criminal Law, at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, that the EFCC charged him before the FCT High Court on his alleged role in the OPL 245 transaction.”

Ozekhome said the former AGF believes he has done nothing wrong in merely carrying out his statutory duties and added also that Adoke’s houses in Kano and Okene in Kogi state were extensively searched even in his absence, with the EFCC finding nothing incriminating against him.

He said Adoke only advised the then president to implement the Consent Judgement of a court of law which was voluntarily agreed to between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, over the OPL 245 dispute of 2006 as the Chief Law Officer and insisted that, “There was no abuse of office howsoever on his part as AGF, that he did not collect one kobo or any sum howsoever, from the oil and gas transaction.”

According to Ozekhome, the former AGF opted to come back to Nigeria, so as to enable him to clear his name in the alleged fraud in the OPL 245 otherwise known as Malabu Oil deal.

Justice Senchi had on April 17, 2019, issued a Warrant of Arrest against Adoke following an ex parte application by the EFCC, which was duly vacated on the 25th of October, 2019.

Adoke’s extradition was faced with some huddles following the failure of the federal government to communicate with Interpol and the authorities in Dubai, on the order setting aside the bench warrant for his arrest.

The anti-graft agency had, in 2017, filed charges against Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited and 10 others, including Adoke and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited.

EFCC in the suit marked FCT/HC/CR/124/17, accused the defendants of fraudulent allocating the Oil Prospecting Licence 245 otherwise known as Malabu Oil.

They were also accused of other forms of offences involving the sum of about $1.2 billion, forgery of bank documents, bribery and corruption.

The alleged $1.2 billion scams involved the transfer of the OPL 245 purportedly from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited to Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Co. Limited and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited.

Already Justice Zenchi has commenced hearing in Adoke’s motion seeking the removal of his name from the Malabu Oil scam trial.

Adoke had in a motion, M/763/19, sought an order of the court striking out his name as a defendant in the case pending before the court, on the grounds that he had secured a judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, against the AGF, representing the Federal Republic of Nigeria wherein he was completely exculpated with respect to the facts and circumstances relating to the Malabu Oil scam.

Ozekhome, who represented Adoke argued that having been exonerated in the Malabu Oil scandal by Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, the inclusion of Adoke’s name as a defendant in the criminal case was erroneous.

Ozekhome claimed among others that EFCC concealed the April 13, 2018 judgment by Justice Nyako in which the court held that Adoke could not be held liable for any infraction in the whole Malabu Oil saga for carrying out a presidential directive from the FCT High Court.

This, he noted is “a gross misstatement, misrepresentation, concealment and suppression of material facts” by the EFCC.

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