Adoke quizzed abroad
• Italian officials probe role of ENI in scam
• ‘Fronts used to collect money’
A FORMER Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, may have been questioned in Netherlands where he is currently a student in a university.Prosecutors in that country were said to have opened a case on him following assistance sought by a third party.
The exact time of the questioning is not known, but it was learnt in Abuja that the Dutch authorities questioned him based on documents passed on to them by Italian investigators who are looking into the Malabu oil deal based on the involvement of an Italian oil company, ENI.
A source confided in The Guardian that the Italians have a “huge file” on the matter, and have shared information once they found out he was in Netherlands. “They told us that they have already visited him once. He was not arrested but they have had a meeting with him already.’’ It was gathered that government was also looking at all those who got monies in foreign currencies transferred to their private accounts shortly after the settlement was arrived at.
The source was clear that a particular dramatis persona involved in all the transactions was not a direct beneficiary because “nothing was found” to have been paid directly to him; but government, it is believed, is looking into some of the shell companies established within the period that “certain proceeds” were paid into.
“I must tell you that this particular person was smart. We didn’t find anything on him even though he shared what came out of it. He used fronts – shell companies – so it is taking more time to track anything to him. Those already fingered in collecting money include two former ministers and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. They were said to have got $10 million dollars each,” the source added.
Yesterday, many of those contacted did not want to be drawn into the Malabu oil deal, even within the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that is anchoring the investigations. EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached, even on his phone line.
Pointing accusing fingers in the direction of a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and members of the family of the late Gen. Sani Abacha as those seeking to use the EFCC to humiliate him, Adoke wrote to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to exonerate himself from any wrong doing, while explaining how the Malabu imbroglio was resolved.
But media adviser to Atiku, Mazi Paul Ibeto, said that his boss did not have a hand in the travails of the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
“The Turaki Adamawa advises Adoke and others so invited to focus on clearing their names instead of dragging innocent people into the fray,” he said.
According to Adoke, his letter, dated the last day of last year and leaked in Abuja last week, became necessary in order to set the records straight in view of the “spurious allegations, mischievous and misleading publications on the subject matter in the media (particularly the online media).”
Adoke laid bare the facts he had to Osinbajo, noting that he explained in detail the history of the transaction, trusting that he (Osinbajo) was in a better position as a one-time Attorney General of Lagos State and the current vice president to objectively appraise the situation and brief President Muhammadu Buhari truthfully so as to discourage the lies being peddled by mischief makers.
“This will not only bring my persecution to an end,” he wrote, “but also protect the institution that the exalted office of the Attorney General of the Federation represents as well as guarantee its independence and prevent its destruction on the altar of political expediency.”
Noting that he was not unmindful of the need for public officers to be held accountable for their service, Adoke observed that if Shell and or ENI had infracted on the laws of their home countries either by non-disclosure and or tax evasion, the duty of government was to assist their home governments if requested to ascertain the truth, but not to “undeservedly criminalise our public office holders to satisfy the narrow and selfish interest of shareholders fighting over assets of their company.”
He wrote further: “Your Excellency may please note that except for those whose sole intentions are to denigrate and impugn my integrity for resisting attempts to use the Office of the HAGF to further narrow selfish business interests, the transaction aforementioned was legitimate, transparent and well documented, and above all, self- explanatory. I trust therefore that this brief will afford you the opportunity to dispassionately examine the records and come to a fair and just assessment of the matter.”
Explaining why he did not honour the invitation from the EFCC, he said though he intended to do so after his examinations at a Netherlands university, he changed his mind because after “deep reflection” he found the invitation to be “rather curious, unconventional and mischievous, especially as I acted purely in an official capacity and the EFCC could easily have had recourse to the sitting HAGF for clarifications since the records were in the Federal Ministry of Justice as government is a continuum.”
He wrote further: “I therefore phoned the HAGF and notified him of the development and offered a detailed explanation of what had transpired. I also impressed on him the need to protect the office from unwarranted attacks and machinations of those out to destroy it in view of its unique constitutional role in governance. I followed up by sending him a written brief with a copy of the attached comprehensive position paper to enable him to familiarise himself with the transaction in the event that official files in the Federal Ministry of Justice could not, for one reason or the other, be easily traced.
“It was after this development that I was made to understand that there were plans by some individuals who had become aware that I would be honouring the invitation of the EFCC on 28thDecember2015 to humiliate me. I was also informed that these individuals had enlisted a notorious online media (Sahara Reporters) to smear my name with allegations of corruption and bribery and that some agents of the Abacha family and one Lawal Abba, acting for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President were behind the scheme.”
According to the information, their motive was predicated on the following:
• the claim that they were shareholders in Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and had been short-changed by the main shareholder of the company; and
•that I had refused to use my official position as Attorney General of the Federation to help them get their dues from the main shareholder.
He noted that though the assertions might sound preposterous, he was forced to give credence to them when on 27th December 2015, two online publications published that he was scheduled to appear for interrogation at the EFCC on 28th December 2015 and would thereafter be detained and charged to court.
Adoke wrote: “It was also falsely published that I was involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal, when the said scandal predated my tenure. It will be recalled that it was during my tenure that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation in collaboration with the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) under the leadership of General Aliyu Gusau and the EFCC proceeded against the companies that were involved in the bribery scandal and got them to pay reparations for ‘reputational damage’ to the country totaling almost $180 million even when, by the penal sanctions contained in our laws, the companies could only have paid pittance. The records are there to show what was achieved and the monies were paid into the Federal Government accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).”
observed that from the publications, the intention was not necessarily to seek clarifications “but a carefully orchestrated plan for my assured unjustified persecution, humiliation and disgrace by a known group with interest in the Malabu matter that are aggrieved over my official role in the resolution of the case.”
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