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Malabu oil deal: FG fails to arraign former AGF, Adoke, others

By on June 15, 2017

The federal government Tuesday, again failed to arraigned a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Eni Spa and four others at the Federal High Court in Abuja, over their alleged involvement in $1.1billion Malabu oil deal.

The failure was adduced to the inability of the federal government to secure the attendance of the defendants in the matter.

When the case was mentioned yesterday, the prosecuting counsel, Johnson Ojogbane, told the court that most of the defendants were outside the country and the government was making efforts to make then attend their trial or be extradited.

Adoke who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, is facing two separate criminal charge, changes following his alleged involvement in the oil deal.

The federal government is accusing him of playing a major role in an alleged 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 and Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd.

The federal government had on April 3, 2017, approached a Federal High Court in Abuja with a request for guidance on whether to issue an arrest warrant against Adoke.
Ojogbane then informed the court that federal government was experiencing some difficulties in serving the former AGF, since he was outside the jurisdiction of the court.

He noted that though the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has the power to arrest anybody anywhere but when the person is not within the jurisdiction of the court (outside the country), it becomes difficult to do so.

According to him, if the order seeking to arrest Adoke is granted it will become easier for security agents to liaise with the International Police (InterPol) to initiate extradition moves.

After listening to the submissions of the federal government, the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, directed the government to make a proper application before the court, adding that such applications are not done orally.

The judge also said if Adoke was already arraigned before the court and was attempting to escape, it would have become proper to issue such a warrant of arrest.

“Once a person has been arraigned before a court and is attempting to escape, then it becomes necessary to issue a warrant of arrest; but in this case, Adoke has not been arraigned before this court. The matter is still at the investigative stage, so such an order is not necessary,” Justice Tsoho held and adjourned till yesterday for the former AGF to be arraigned.

EFCC had in December 2016 charged nine suspects, including Adoke over their alleged involvement in the Malabu oil scandal.
Adoke was accused of illegally transferring more than $800million purportedly meant for the purchase of the OPL 245 to Etete and Malabu Oil.

The federal government had also on March 2, 2017, filed fresh charges against two multinational oil firms, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited and Agip Nigeria Exploration Limited, for alleged complicity in the Malabu $1.1bn scandal.

Others charged along-side the two oil giants are Adoke; Etete; Aliyu Abubakar, ENI SPA, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafati Sebestiano and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

The matter was however adjourned to October 26, 2017.