The Federal Government, on Thursday, said it was finding it difficult to extradite the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of
Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, SAN, back to Nigeria to face trial over his alleged role in the $1.3billion Malabu oil fraud.
Former attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke FG, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the process the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, initiated for the former AGF to be arrested by the Interpol and forced back to the country for prosecution, has not yielded any result.
It decried that some of the major culprits in the alleged fraud quickly fled the country upon the inception of the present administration and had since remained at large.
Government lawyer, Mr. Johnson Ojogbane told the court that process for extradition of all the runaway suspects had become “very cumbersome”.
Consequently, FG, persuaded the high court to grant it a long adjournment to enable it to conclude process for the arrest and extradition of Adoke and other
defendants in two sets of criminal charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016 and FHC/ABJ/CR/124/17.
Based on the application, trial Justice John Tsoho deferred arraignment of the defendants till June 18. EFCC had in the charges, alleged that Adoke who served
under former President Goodluck Jonathan, played key role in “a fraudulent deal” that saw the transfer of ownership of a disputed Oil Prospecting License, OPL,
245, to two multinational oil companies, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd. OPL 245 is regarded as one of the richest
oil blocs in Africa. It was initially awarded to Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd in 1998 by late military head of state, General Sani Abacha, in a process the EFCC
insisted was against all known government regulations.
EFCC told the court that investigations revealed that Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd secured OPL 245 through fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and
corruption by top management of the company and some government officials.
Other defendants in the nine-count criminal charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016, are a former Minister of Petroleum under Abacha, Chief Dan Etete, an oil mogul,
Aliyu Abubakar, as well as six firms- Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Development Company Ltd, Group
Construction Ltd and MegaTech Engineering Ltd. Similarly, aside Adoke, Etete and Aliyu, other defendants in the second three-count charge marked CR/124/17 and
dated February 28, were Shell Nigeria Exploration production Company Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, ENI SPA, four Italians, Ralph Wetzels, Casula
Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafati Sebestiano and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd. FG had earlier told the court that it was collaborating with international security
agencies to arrest Adoke who has remained outside the country since he vacated office. It predicated moves to arrest Adoke on his alleged repeated refusal to
surrender himself to the EFCC. The court had on three successive dates also adjourned the matter over inability of the prosecution to produce any of the
defendants for trial. EFCC had in processes it filed before the court, maintained that the controversial oil bloc was withdrawn from Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd on
July 2, 2001, based on the directive of then Presidential Adviser on Petroleum to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, after which it was re-allocated to Shell
Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd. It revealed that following series of litigations, OPL 245 was returned back to Malabu, which EFCC said subsequently went into a
fraudulent agreement with Shell and Agip, in which the companies paid signature bonus of $210million to FG, while additional $1.1billion bribe was given to
some owners of Malabu Oil $ Gas Ltd led by former Minister of Petroleum, Etete who as at then was already a convict.
EFCC alleged that it was the former AGF, Adoke, SAN, that helped Shell and Agip to route the bribe money through FG’s Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London.
It said: “That sometime in May 2011, Nigeria Agip Exploration and SNEPCO instructed Chase Bank to release the said $1, 092, 040, 000 USD into Escrow Account of
the Federal Government. “That the said money on the instruction of the then AGF, Mohammed Adoke, was transferred from the Escrow Account to two banks namely
First Bank and Keystone Bank operated by Dan Etete and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd. “The said amount was later laundered with several accounts of individuals and different companies”.
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