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Courts adjourns Adoke trial

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The FCT High Court has adjourned until Thursday the trial of a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, for alleged involvement in the controversial $1.2billion Malabu oil deal.

Mr Adoke was arraigned alongside six others before Justice Idris Kutigi of the Gwagwalada Division of the court last week Monday.

The charges were amended to 42 from the initial 12.

He is also being tried at the Federal High Court on separate charges but related to the soured oil deal.

Background

The EFCC had been pursuing Mr Adoke for his alleged role in the controversial transfer of Nigeria’s OPL 245 oil field.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how almost half of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and Eni in the controversial OPL 245 deal brokered by Mr Adoke and some other officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration ended in accounts controlled by Mr Aliyu.

The oil multinationals paid the money through the Nigerian government to Malabu, a company then controlled by Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister who is on the run.

Malabu, which was illegally awarded OPL 245 when Mr Etete was a minister in 1998, then transferred about half of the money into accounts partly controlled by Mr Aliyu.

The EFCC alleges that Mr Aliyu distributed the money to some top officials of Shell and Eni as well as some officials of the Jonathan administration.

The EFCC also said Mr Adoke received N300 million from Mr Aliyu in 2013 as his share of the Malabu windfall.

Shell, Eni, and their officials are already being prosecuted in Italy for the scandal.

Mr Adoke has denied any wrongdoing and said the actions taken in respect of the transfer of the block were based on the instructions of former President Jonathan and in the best interest of Nigeria.

In 2015, the former minister went on a self-imposed exile outside Nigeria.

He eventually travelled to Dubai where he was arrested by Interpol on the prompting of the EFCC.

Upon his return to Nigeria, he was arrested at the Abuja airport and handed over to the EFCC on December 19.

The EFCC secured an initial court order to hold Mr Adoke for 14 days following his arrest in Abuja.

Monday Court Session

Mike Ozekhome, a member of Mr Adoke’s legal team, presented a six-paragraph affidavit supported by 10 exhibits, stating that because of ill healt and high blood pressure Mr Adoke could not walk properly. “He (Mr Adoke) is looking pale like a 75-year-old man,” the lawyer said.

He also said part of the exhibits showed that Mr Adoke did not run away from the country, but was on a study programme in the Netherlands.

Mr Ozekhome added that the former AGF was not deported to Nigeria as claimed by the EFCC. “He bought his own flight ticket back to the country.

He therefore urged the court to grant his bail application based in exercise of its discretionary powers.

Ola Olanipekun, counsel to the second defendant, Mr Abubakar, also said his client was not arrested but voluntarily presented himself to the court. He also urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the application.

The lawyer to the third defendant, Paul Okoli, said his client, Mr Rasky, had been under investigation and surveillance by the EFCC and has never failed to show up when invited.

He also prayed the court to grant his bail application.

When Justice Kutigi asked the prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, if he was opposing the applications, he said in an 11-paragraph counter affidavit dated January 24 and signed by Ahmed Ibrahim, an EFCC investigator, that the bail applications should not be granted.

Mr Sanga said there was no evidence to show ill health as claimed by the counsel to Mr Adoke.

He also countered claims that Mr Adoke voluntarily returned to Nigeria.

He said, “If truly he (Adoke) returned voluntarily to Nigeria, how come he was handed over to the EFCC by interpol?”

He urged that sufficient evidence should be put before the court.

Mr Santa also dismissed Mr Olanipekun’s claim that his client voluntarily appeared before the court, saying the court clerk can attest that Mr Abubakar was arrested right in front of the court.

Mr Sanga said Mr Abubakar might jump bail because the commission had granted him administrative bail early in January, part of which he allegedly violated.

The lead counsel to Mr Adoke, Kanu Agabi, also urged the court to grant him bail in sum that is affordable

Justice Kutigi adjourned the case till Thursday to deliver ruling on the bail applications.

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