•Global police acted out of ignorance, says Ozekhome
Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government is working with Interpol to extradite the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), to face charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
A senior official of EFCC, who spoke with THISDAY in confidence in Abuja, gave an indication that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) will fast-track all the necessary legal protocols to extradite him to Nigeria to face trial.
But reacting to Adoke’s arrest and detention in Dubai, UAE, in an interview with THISDAY, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who is counsel to the former AGF, blamed the action of the Interpol on the failure of government to inform the international security body about Adoke’s current status.
EFCC Collaborates with Interpol to Extradite Adoke
‘’There are existing charges against Mohammed Bello Adoke at the Federal High Court in Nigeria. Now that he is in the custody of Interpol, it provides him with huge opportunity to defend himself of the charges against him,’’ the EFCC’s source stated.
Adoke was arrested recently and held in Dubai by Interpol, shortly after arriving in Dubai for medical evaluation after a court warrant for his arrest was vacated in October.
Justice D. Z. Zenchi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court had in April issued a warrant for Adoke’s arrest following an ex-parte application by EFCC.
He has been on self-exile since 2015, accusing EFCC of trying to humiliate him, maintaining that he did no wrong in the Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 dispute.
The anti-graft commission had filed a three-count charge against two multinational oil firms, Shell and ENI, for their roles in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil scam.
The EFCC had also filed related charges against two former Nigerian ministers, Mohammed Adoke and Dan Etete, and others after concluding investigations on the 2011 controversial sale of OPL 245.
The alleged fraud committed by the ex-Nigerian officials and officials of the oil firms, has also led to investigations and charges in Italy.
The EFCC had also secured a court order ensuring the return of the OPL 245 to the Nigerian government, pending the determination of the court case against the defendants.
According to the charges the defendants were accused of committing the crime of conspiracy to commit felony against the provisions of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences, ICPC, Act.
The oil firms and their then directors were also alleged to have fraudulently paid $801 million to Messrs. Adoke, Etete, Aliyu, and Malabu for the oil block. OPL 245 is considered one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks and estimated to contain over nine billion barrels of crude.
However, Adoke had consistently denied links to alleged fraud and has been on self-exile since vacating office in May 2015.
He has repeatedly cited a judgment by Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja that said he could not be prosecuted for actions he took while in office based on presidential directives.
The former AGF recently published his memoirs, ‘Burden of Service: Reminiscences of Nigeria’s Former Attorney-General,’ detailing his role in the OPL 245/Malabu Oil deal as well as other events that happened in former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, which he served as AGF from 2010 to 2015.
On October 25, Justice Zenchi vacated the arrest warrant based on prayers from Adoke’s lawyers who argued that the order was wrongfully procured.
The judge also asked the EFCC, which seeks to prosecute Adoke, to serve him the court papers by substituted means.
However, Ozekhome, who is counsel to Adoke blamed the action of the Interpol on the failure of government to inform the international security body about his client’s current status.
“I am sure there must have been paucity of information between the government and Interpol Police. I would just presume the government forgot, failed or neglected to inform Interpol that the warrant for his arrest had been duly quashed and vacated by Hon Justice Zenchi of the FCT High Court, Abuja, after heated arguments between myself and the government lawyers,” Ozekhome said.
Explaining further the senior lawyer said the court had ruled that if the government were interested in arresting Adoke, it should embark upon substituted service of the case against him by publication in national newspapers.
“The government had not yet taken any such steps before the purported arrest.
“I believe when these facts are brought to the attention of the Dubai authorities and Interpol, they would set Adoke free and allow him go for his medical treatment, the very reason he went to Dubai in the first instance,” he added.
Ozekhome, however, expressed confidence that the government of the day would do the needful by transmitting court’s proceedings to the appropriate organisation and facilitate the release of the former AGF.
He added: “Government cannot perpetrate illegality against a valid court order, nor overreach Adoke, nor short-circuit the judicial process. Such will amount to executive lawlessness as described by the Supreme Court in Ojukwu v Governor of Lagos State.
“Such arrest and detention will be subsequently declared null and void and of no legal effect, as you cannot build something upon nothing and expect it to stay.”
I Can’t Speak Speculatively, Says Malami
Meanwhile, the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice said last night that it had not received any formal communication on the alleged arrest of the former minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Bello Adoke.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, disclosed this while reacting to media reports on the matter.
This is contained In a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
“My office as the Attorney General Federation and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not in receipt of any formal communication regarding the alleged arrest in line with international conventions, processes and procedures relating to such matter,” the minister said.
“Until such formal communication is received the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice would not comment speculatively in one way or the other over the matter,” he added.