Remove my name from Malabu charges, Adoke tells court

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The immediate-past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke, who was reportedly arrested by the International Police Organisation in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on November 11, 2019, has applied to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja to have his name removed from the charges instituted against him and others in respect of Malabu Oil scam.

He made the request in the application sighted by Saturday PUNCH on Friday. He argued that the Federal High Court in Abuja, having exonerated him in the Malabu Oil scam, his inclusion as a defendant in the criminal case was erroneous.

He added that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had concealed from the trial court the fact of the Federal High Court’s judgment delivered by Justice Binta Nyako on April 13, 2019, which held that he could not be held liable for any infraction in the whole Malabu Oil scam.

The application filed on Adoke’s behalf by his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has been scheduled for hearing before Justice Danladi Senchi of the Jabi Division of the FCT High Court in Abuja, on December 2.

Although it was filed on November 5, 2019, almost one week before his arrest in Dubai on November 11, the application is believed to be part of the moves by Adoke to avert his extradition to Nigeria.

The application followed the October 25, 2019 ruling of the same Justice Senchi, setting aside the arrest warrant issued against him on April 17, 2019.

Adoke’s lawyers had argued that the arrest of the former minister in Dubai had no basis as the bench warrant authorising the arrest had been set aside by the same court which issued it.

The EFCC had, in 2017, charged him alongside others, with fraudulent allocation of the Oil Prospecting Licence 245 and other forms of offences involving the sum of about $1.2bn, forgery of bank documents, bribery and corruption.

The alleged $1.2bn scam 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.

Adoke was charged along with Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Co Ltd and eight others in the case marked FCT/HC/CR/124/17.

But Adoke’s lawyer, Ozekhome, has filed a motion before the court praying for an order “striking out the name of Bello Mohammed Adoke (SAN), as a defendant in charge number FCT/HC/CR/124/17, between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Co Ltd & 10 others, pending before this honourable court.”

Part of the fresh application seeking the order of court to remove Adoke’s name from the pending charges is that the former minister “had secured a judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, against the Attorney-General of the Federation, representing the Federal Republic of Nigeria” in which he was “completely exculpated with respect to the facts and circumstances” relating to the Malabu Oil scam.

The application added that Adoke was only joined in the pending criminal case “upon a gross misstatements, misrepresentation, concealment and suppression of material facts” by the EFCC.

It added, “That the applicant (Adoke) had earlier in this charge, by motion contended that he has been exculpated with respect to the same facts and circumstances over which he was erroneously charged and the basis upon which the bench warrant was issued.

“In considered ruling on October 25, 2019, His Lordship upheld the applicant’s contention and set aside the bench warrant issued against the applicant for want of jurisdiction.

“However, having declined jurisdiction, in respect of this charge in favour of the applicant, the honourable court did not strike out the name of the applicant from this charge as it no longer had jurisdiction to do so.”

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