Says he saved Nigeria $2bn liability through deal
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Former Attorney General of the. Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) has again denied any wrongdoing in the handling of the Malabu Oil and Gas Limited deal for which he and eight others were charged before a Federal High Court.
In a statement he issued yesterday, Adoke who is outside Nigeria, said he saved Nigeria from a liability of $2 billion in damages through the deal.
He said: “My attention has been drawn to the charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against me and other named individuals and companies in respect of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement involving Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited.
“The charge of aiding the commission of money laundering offences preferred against me has finally confirmed the orchestrated plans to bring me to public disrepute in order to satisfy the whims and caprices of some powerful interests on revenge mission.”
The former AGF insisted that he acted within the actual and ostensible authority of the office he occupied to broker a settlement between Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited in order to ward off the over $2 billion liability in damages for breach of contract which the country would had been exposed to in the likely event of the success of Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited’s claim before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
He said the terms of settlement ensured that the interests of the federal government, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited were duly acknowledged and provided for in the settlement agreement.
He explained that the federal government was entitled to the signature bonus which was duly paid; Malabu Oil and Gas Limited surrendered its title to OPL 245 for a consideration and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited was re-allocated OPL 245 which it had previously substantially de-risked in consideration for withdrawing their over $ 2 billion claim for breach of contract against the federal government.
He said: “Since the parties aforementioned, faithfully discharged their respective obligations under the settlement agreement, one cannot comprehend how the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation which brokered the settlement was expected to renege from the agreement by denying Malabu Oil and Gas Limited the benefits associated with the relinquishing of their title to OPL 245 already warehoused in a joint FGN/Shell Escrow account, or to prevent the subsequent re-allocation of the relinquished OPL 245 to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited when the company had already furnished consideration for it to the federal government.”
Adoke said it should be clear to any person dispassionately reviewing the transaction to confirm that he had no personal interest in the transaction and did not take any benefit from it.
He said: “I had requisite approvals from the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to broker the settlement and execute the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement.”
He added that he would make himself available at the appropriate time to defend himself.
Adoke was charged alongside former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, the Chairman A.A. Oil, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, six companies for alleged complicity in the payment of $400million to Malabu Oil and Gas from Nigeria Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London.
The money was said to have been paid into Malabu’s account in the defunct Bank PHB now Keystone bank.
The offence was said to have been committed on or about 24 August 2011.
The six companies charged alongside Etete, Adoke and Abubakar are Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Rocky Top Resource Nigeria Limited, Imperial Union Limited, Novel Property and Development Co. Limited, Group Construction Limited and Megatech Engineering Limited.
They were said to have committed an offence contrary to section 15 (2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.
In count two, Etete and Malabu Oil were accused ot taken control of $401million paid from the federal government Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London into the account of Malabu Oil in First Bank Nigeria Plc when they knew the money formed part of proceeds of unlawful activity to wit: fraud and thereby committed an offence under section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011 punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.