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Malabu Deal: AGF, Salami Slammed Over Letter To Buhari |The Republican News

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Attorney General Of The Federation,  Abubakar Salami

 

*Wants President to drop the case against Adoke, others for lack of evidence.

*Lawyers express the divergent views

*!AGF queries Magu, Keyamo overcharge against CCT chair

Doosuur Iwambe, and Myke Uzendu, Abuja

In what appears to be a confusion and lack of direction in the fight against corruption, a letter written by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to back off on his administration’s legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal has sparked a row in the country.

While some lawyers backed Malami for exercising the power of nolle prosequi, (power to continue and terminate any case in court), some other lawyers described what the AGF did as contrary to the mantra of Buhari’s war against corruption and politicising the system.

Speaking during separate interviews with The Daily Times on Monday, the lawyers said that the development will far-reaching effect on the war against graft. The lawyers are Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN), Mr Femi Falana (SAN), Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mr Anthony Agbonlahor, Manny Ikpebe, Terhemen Ibeh and Hameed Jimoh. Speaking in a telephone interview, Ahamba (SAN), said: “I cannot comment on the propriety or otherwise of the action taken by the AGF. It is a professional matter and I don’t comment on issues that the facts are not before me.

“I don’t have details on Malabu oil except what I read in the newspapers. Those who ate the money are there and I don’t know why Malami has written to the president seeking to discontinue some of the cases. So whether he is wrong or right I cannot say for now.”

In his comment, Yusuf Ali (SAN), said: “As the Chief Law officer of the country, he is the only minister recognised by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and empowered to enter any matter and to either continue or terminate it.

“Malami should be commended for doing his job diligently. As the chief law officer of the land, the EFCC, ICPC, Police and any other prosecuting agencies are under him.

“The ideal thing is that all these prosecuting agencies when they have carried out their investigation ought to get necessary input from the office of the AGF.

“In other words, the office of the AGF ought to scrutinise the level of investigation by the agencies in order to ensure that they have a prima facie case that could be sustained in the courts because investigations are very crucial and germane in any case that is referred to court for adjudication.

“It is because this procedure is not usually followed, that is why you have cases thrown out. Once you do not have a good evidence to build up your case, it will be thrown out.

“Regarding the case of Malabu, Malami should be commended because he has done a good job. There is no point in engaging in endless litigations as it is obvious in the view of the AGF that there is no prima facie case on Malabu matter”.

Falana said, “ Instead of writing to the president or issuing queries, the AGF should exercise his powers under section 174 of the Constitution by filing nolle prosequi to terminate the criminal proceedings if he is sure that the EFCC has abused the prosecutorial powers of the state.”

Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, in his reaction, said: ” From what we know from the facts of the case as presented to the public, this will be one of few that will not bring the voices on the government to congruence at the confluence of our large rivers (of justice).

“I expect water ran against its course with PDP perhaps hailing it, and Puritans bemoaning it. I am constrained on this occasion to side with the AGF. I could see no probable cause other than impugning acts of state; undermining the office of the President and treating the kicks of the slaughtered cow as tremors of a quake.

“Pressing on would have meant no international or domestic government, business, or person should trust the executive acts of the President, supported by various ministers and agencies of the state. It is a sad narrative that EFFC is unable to see the wood for the trees, and in what appears to be a quest for enemy’s fall rather than blind cause of justice, EFFC was blinded in the glare of the sun of justice as it came out of the darkroom unprepared as a true independent non-partisan Puritan warrior. If only EFFC has seen the signals.”

For Ozekhome (SAN), “That is how it should be. The AGF is the chief law officer for the whole country. He is supposed to be a prosecutor and not persecutor under section 174 of the 1999 Constitution. Once he finds that a case lacks certain ingredients to sustain its prosecutor, he should do the needful by discontinuing it, rather than get humiliated in open court.”

Anthony Agbonlahor in his contribution called on the AGF to use his powers appropriately. He said even though the constitution has empowered the AGF to enter the power of nolle prosequi, the powers should not be abused most especially by a government that came on board with the mantra of fighting corruption.

But Manny Ikpebe wondered why the AGF did not write directly to the court of whatever his intention was.

He said, “If the AGF had intended to enter a nolle prosequi, the letter would have been sent to the court directly and not the president.

“If the said letter was directed to the court, it won’t have raised any question because that way; Nigerians will know that he is only exercising his power of nolle prosequi which requires no explanation but writing a letter to the president now brings him to the political terrain and politics and law at this stage do not go hand on hand.

“What he did is not good for the people and the image of the country at all because Nigerians want to see people presumed to be corrupt go through the process and sentenced accordingly but when you do not allow the process of law to go through completely, it will dampen the spirit of the people”.

For Terhemen Ibeh, nothing is wrong with what the AGF did.

He said: “Since the constitution has empowered him, he has no explanation for his action. The AGF is answerable to the president and is not out of context for him to inform him of his decision, hence the president is the Chief Executive Officer”.

In his view, Hameed Jimoh said that by virtue Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution and other judicial pronouncements, the AGF is empowered to exercise discretion to decide whether to send a letter for Presidential approval or to act without recourse to him on any matter before the court.

He said, “So, sending the letter the President is a discretionary act which no court can query or compel him to act in one way or the other.

“Only that it might be viewed that seeking President’s approval might just be to prove the degree of his loyalty to the President and might be political tactics.”

The Daily Times recalls that Malami had in the letter dated September 27, 2017, urged Buhari to back off on his administration’s legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.

The raging scandal over the OPL 245 oil block began in 2011 when the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration approved its purchase by Shell and Agip-Eni from Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd., a suspected briefcase firm with ties to Dan Etete, a convicted criminal who was Nigeria’s petroleum minister from 1995 to 1998.

The Jonathan administration officials who participated in the negotiation preceding the controversial sale of the massive oil block included former AGF, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) and Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was the former Minister of Petroleum.

Jonathan himself was named by investigators as being involved in the alleged fraud, but the former president strongly denies the charges.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been pursuing fraud and criminal conspiracy charges against Adoke, Mr Etete and their alleged accomplices since 2016. Adoke and Etete are at large while the anti-graft agency had repeatedly sought to fish them out.

In his letter to President Buhari, the AGF Malami said following due examination of the case files, he was able to determine that the EFCC has no significant evidence to prove its allegations of sharp practices against prominent players like Adoke, Diezani and others.

Meanwhile, the Al-Mushahid Initiative for Transparency and Accountability (AITA) has urged President Buhari to ignore the letter written to him by the AGF Malami, urging him to stop the legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.

President of AITA, Ambassador Aminu Abubakar Majidadi, who was reacting to a letter asking President Buhari to stop the prosecution of Diezani and Adoke over their roles in the controversial Malabu oil deal, said that everybody close to the president should encourage him to bring the prosecution to its logical end. Majidadi said it is untenable for anyone to ask the President to hands off this international case when everyone especially those working with this administration should be seen at the forefront of helping the President to achieve his anti-corruption war.

He said, “We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore this letter but should rather redouble the efforts at seeing this case to its logical conclusion in the interest of national development and honour. This should even be a yard-stick to tackle other dragging corruption cases.”

He also called for special anti-corruption tribunals to fast-track stolen fund recovery and successful prosecution of corruption cases.

In a related development, the strained relationship between the AGF Malami and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, deepened on Monday as Malami queried Magu over the criminal charge filed against the Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Yakubu Umar.

The AGF also asked Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN) to explain his role over the two-count corruption charge filed before an Abuja High Court against the CCT Chairman.

In the query dated February 16, 2018, and with Reference No DPP/ADV: 368/15 signed by Mr Dayo Apata, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Magu has been asked to make his response available to the AGF on or before Tuesday (today).

Magu is asked to explain what informed the filing of corruption charges against the tribunal chairman after the EFCC had twice cleared Umar of the corruption allegation.

The query titled “FRN VS Danladi Umar (CR/109/18) request for Briefing” read thus: “The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to the news report that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.

“I am directed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to seek clarification from you as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive and if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so. This clarification becomes imperative in view of the following background facts.

“The Commission’s investigation report dated 5th March 2015 addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation stated as follows: “The facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the defence.

“The Commission’s position in paragraph 2(a) above was also maintained and sustained by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation while appearing before the House of Representatives’ Investigative Committee sometimes in 2015 to the effect that report of investigations showed that the allegations against Hon. Justice Danladi Umar were based on mere suspicions.

“In view of the foregoing, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation requests for your prompt briefing as to the existence of new facts which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence or other developments upon which the prosecution of Hon. Justice Danladi can be successfully based.

“Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response within 48 hours from the receipt of same is required in the circumstances.”

Also, in a separate letter to Keyamo (SAN), the AGF asked the lawyer who was purportedly engaged by Magu to prosecute the CCT boss to confirm who authorised him to file the corruption charge against Umar.

Keyamo was also given till Tuesday (today) to furnish the Office of the AGF in writing the detail of who engaged or issued him with authority to file the corruption charges.

The letter to Keyamo with reference No DPP/ADV: 369/15 dated February 16, 2018, which was also signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, reads in part:

“The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to the news report that you have filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Hon. Justice Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.

“The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation hereby requests that you kindly furnish this office with the details of the instruction or authorisation upon which you instituted the case under reference. Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018, is solicited in this regard.”

Although the EFCC had in two separate letters it sent to the Federal Government through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in 2015 and 2016 cleared Umar of any wrongdoing in an alleged N10 million bribery allegation by Rasheed Taiwo Owolabi who is standing trial at the tribunal over false asset declaration, the Commission went ahead and charged the tribunal chairman.

It is instructive to note that Umar’s clearance was done by the former Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde in a letter reference No EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 dated March 5, 2015, which exonerated the CCT boss.

The letter stated that “the facts as they are against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”

While the other EFCC’s letter stated that a further investigation in 2016 on the N10m bribery revealed that it remained a mere suspicion.

The EFCC report received by the office of SGF on March 6, 2015, was categorical that “the facts as they are against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will therefore not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the offence.”

The EFCC’s second report with reference EFCC/P/HRU/688/V30/99 dated April 20, 2016, and submitted to the SGF and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo, read in part: “Kindly recall our correspondence of March 5 2015 with Reference EFCC/EC/SGF/03/56 with above subject caption. We will like to reiterate the Commission’s position in regard to this matter as earlier communicated to you and state that the allegation levelled against Justice Umar were merely suspicions and consequently insufficient to prosecute the offence.”

The EFCC had on February 2, 2018, brought a two-count charge against the CCT Chairman, Danladi Yakubu Umar, bordering on alleged receipt of N10m bribe from one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo in the charge signed by Festus Keyamo as a private prosecuting counsel and one Offem Uket, an official of EFCC.

Umar was accused of receiving N1.8m through his Personal Assistant, Gambo Abdullahi, for a favour to be afterwards shown to the petitioner who was standing trial for a criminal offence before the tribunal.

Meanwhile, March 15 has been fixed for the arraignment of the CCT boss at the High Court of FCT, Abuja.     (Daily Times)

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Reps Panel Invites Jonathan Over $1.1bn Malabu Oil Scandal |The Republican News

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                     Former President Goodluck Jonathan

John Ameh, Abuja

The House of Representatives resolved on Wednesday to invite former President Goodluck Jonathan to testify in the ongoing investigations into the controversial sale of Oil Prospecting Licence 245.

Better known as $1.1bn Malabu Oil deal, an ad hoc committee of the House has been investigating the alleged diversion of the money, which was the Federal Government’s share of the deal.The committee is chaired by a member of the All Progressives Congress from Kwara State, Mr. Razak Atunwa.

In making its decision to invite Jonathan public on Wednesday in Abuja, Atunwa stated that certain information in public domain had made the need to hear from the former President necessary before the probe could be considered conclusive.

READ:MALABU: some people are threatened by my international profile, Says Jonathan

He explained that hearing from Jonathan was also an indication that “thoroughness, natural justice and fair play” were applied in the investigation.

Atunwa stated, “Mr. Jonathan was the President at the material time that (his cabinet) ministers brokered the deal that led to the allegation of $1bn diversion of funds.

“Mr. Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan in Italy.

“A United Kingdom court judgment in relation to an application to return part of the money being investigated, castigated the Jonathan administration as not having acted in the best interest of Nigeria in relation to the ‘deal’.

“The Attorney General of the Federation at the material time, Mohammed Bello-Adoke, has recently instituted proceedings in court wherein he pleads that all his actions were as instructed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the (1999) Constitution, the committee has decided to request that former President Goodluck Jonathan give evidence as to his role in the matter.”

He added that the secretariat of the committee had been directed to write to Jonathan, “asking for his response and submission.”

When asked whether this meant that Jonathan would come personally before the committee or the committee would meet him at a location chosen by the former President, Atunwa replied that what was most important was to write to him.

“There are parliamentary procedures, so we don’t jump the gun. What we have said here is to ask for his response. When he responds, that is when we go further.

“At this material point, we have invited him and that is where the case will rest for now,” he added.

The House had first investigated the deal in the 7th Assembly (2011-2015).

Not satisfied with the outcome of the probe, the current 8th House revisited it.

This second phase of the probe was launched in October 2016 with the committee taking representations from Shell, Agip and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

It also received the submissions of the current AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami, among others.

READ ALSO: $1.3bn Malabu Bribe: Jonathan May Have Received $200 m, Says Report

However, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources in the Jonathan administration, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Bello-Adoke reportedly shunned the panel.

According to the House, OPL 245 occupies an area of 1,958 square kilometres and holds up to “9.2billion” barrels of crude oil.

Recalling how the deal started, the committee said Chief Dan Etete, a former minister in the administration of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, awarded the block to himself in 1998, using Malabu Oil and Gas.

“He awarded it to himself for just $20m, out of which he paid only $2m,” the committee stated.

It added that former President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked the block, and later sold it to Shell at $210m, a development, which sparked off a series of legal tussles.

The committee recalled that while Malabu was still in court, Bello-Adoke and Alison-Madueke were alleged to have “contrived a series of complex agreements of a questionable nature.”

It added, “The summary of the agreement was that Shell and Nigeria Agip Exploration paid $1.1bn to the Federal Government for the oil block.”

However, instead of paying the money into the Federation Account, the committee stated that Bello-Adoke and Alison-Madueke “caused the money to be transferred to Malabu, which then spirited the money to various foreign bank accounts.

“In this regard, it is alleged that companies, such as A. A. Oil Limited, were engaged to launder the funds.”

The committee viewed the development as unacceptable, arguing that “Nigeria and its citizens may be said to have been short-changed to the tune of $1.1bn.”

The committee stated, “As we sit here today, $110m is being held by the UK authorities from the fund as proceeds of corruption from Nigeria.

“Italian prosecutors have also requested that money from that deal in Swiss accounts should be frozen.

“So, Nigeria folds its alms while other countries protect its interest? Nigeria is the victim.”

READ ALSO: Malabu Oil Deal Predates My Presidency, I Did’nt Send Anyone To Take Bribe |The Republican News

But, Malami, in his submissions to the committee in December 2016, claimed that the Federal Government could not prosecute Alison-Madueke , Bello-Adoke and a former Minister of Finance,  Mr. Olusegun Aganga, because of lack of sufficient evidence to nail the three former ministers.

Malami added that though Bello-Adoke had made written submissions, he had “not made himself available.”

The AGF, however, admitted before the committee that the payment of over $1.09bn into an escrow account by the three former government officials was illegal, explaining that the money ought to have been remitted into the Federation Account.

Attempts to get comments of ex-President Jonathan on his invitation by the committee were not successful as calls made to the mobile phone of his Media Adviser, Mr Ikechukwu Eze, did not connect while a text message sent to him had yet to be responded to as of the time of filing this report on Wednesday. (Punchng.com)

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Malabu Oil Deal: Ijaw Union Demands Obasanjo’s Probe |The Republican News

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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo

Olaleye Aluko

The Ijaw Union has urged the Federal Government to query former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his alleged involvement in the OPL 245 Malabu Oil and Gas deal.

The union, in a statement by its heads, Ebitari Dombraye and Awengidappa Wilson, said the quizzing was needful, against the background of Obasanjo’s exoneration of himself from the deal, which the union described as “psychic purveyor of untruths.”

The release partly read, “Former President Obasanjo held sway, not only as president between 1999 to 2007 but also as petroleum minister, during which he performed the duties and responsibilities as enshrined within the Petroleum Act of 1969.

“For him to absolve himself of responsibility, only serves to give credence as a psychotic purveyor of untruths.

“Obasanjo gave approvals, all in writing to reinstate Malabu’s license to OPL 245 after protracted court cases and national assembly resolutions threatened to lay waste to the asset.

“This approval was validated by two successive Nigerian presidents thereafter. If Chief Obasanjo’s claim has any currency, are we saying none of the individuals and ministries in the deal got involved without the knowledge of the president or minister of petroleum who were one and the same person?”

The union noted that the government must carry out due diligence in the Malabu deal investigations.

Meanwhile Obasanjo, while speaking with newsmen at a function in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, recently had said the deal was not approved by him.

He said, “What Etete did is the height of corruption. He appropriated the asset to himself illegally, illegitimately and immorally.

“Adoke and others should not drag me into a matter I know nothing about. If they have been asked to answer questions over decisions they took while in office, they should do that honourably.”   (Punchng.com)

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$1.3bn Malabu Scam: EFCC Raided My Brother’s Home, Says Adoke (ex AGF)

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Mohammed Adoke (SAN)

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The immediate past Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), says operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission raided the home of his younger brother, Bashir, in Kogi State during the wee hours of Sunday.

The raid, it was learnt, was part of investigations into the $1.3bn oil deal involving Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and oil giant, Shell, which was brokered by Adoke in 2011 when he was the AGF.

Adoke said this in a statement by his spokesman, Victor Akhidenor.

The former AGF, however, stated that nothing was found during the raid which he described as illegal.

The senior advocate said the operatives of the anti-graft agency assaulted some occupants of the house when they did not find any money in the building.

The statement read in part, “The men who arrived Mr. Bello’s house at about 12 midnight in a Hilux van were dressed in black uniform. They did not present any search warrant and when the security man sought to know their mission, they stated that they were in search of money particularly dollars that have been hidden by Mohammed Bello Adoke.

“When the security guard insisted that the house was not occupied and that no such monies were kept there; they not only brutalised him, but proceeded to hack down the door, tore the place apart and searched virtually every nook and cranny of the house, destroying the furniture, the ceiling, wardrobes, water tank, etc.

“At the end, they left the premises infuriated that they did not find the dollars they were informed was hidden in the house.”

Operatives of the EFCC had last month raided the Kano home of Adoke but were said not to have recovered any money

Adoke, who has been in The Netherlands since 2015, said members of his family were being harassed by the EFCC.

He added, “This will be the second time that security personnel would be invading Mr. Adoke’s home. Last month, officials of the EFCC invaded Mr. Adoke’s family home in Kano in search of documents ostensibly to use to prosecute him.

“There appears to be no end to the level of harassment, intimidation, and persecution that Adoke and his family will face at the hands of law enforcement personnel determined to unearth incriminating evidence against him.

“Adoke is apprehensive about his personal safety as well as that of his immediate family and calls on law enforcement personnel to guarantee the safety of his family especially now that he has become a target and subject of harassment, intimidation, and persecution from powerful families and aggrieved individuals bent on settling scores with him on account of his refusal to allow his office as a minister in the government of the federation to be used to serve their personal interests.”

All attempts to speak with the EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Sunday proved abortive as his phone indicated that it was switched off.    (Punchng.com)

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MALABU: some people are threatened by my international profile, Says Jonathan

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Former President, Dr Goodluck Ebelechukwu Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has denied an allegation that he received $200m from the $1.3bn Malabu oil deal.

Jonathan, who stated this in a statement by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, on Tuesday, described a story published by Buzzfeed as false.

He said that it was sponsored by those who were threatened by his rising profile in the international community, adding that the story was meant to tarnish his image.

The former President said, “It is one more in the series of fake news sponsored by those threatened by Dr. Jonathan’s continuously rising profile in the international community.

“Commonsense should have shown the purveyors of this slander that the Malabu oil deal far predated the Jonathan regime and it would only make sense for him to be bribed if he had a time machine to go back in time to when the deal was struck.”

According to Jonathan, the report relied on hearsay evidence from a man, who provided no substance to back up his false claim.

He said, “The man quoted by the report said he ‘assumed’ that Dr. Jonathan would be bribed.”

The former President wondered how the assumption of a man could be enough to smear the reputation of a patriot and international statesman of his calibre.

“The report also wrongly claimed that ‘Jonathan and Etete’ had known each other for years, according to Shell staff, when Jonathan served as a tutor to Etete’s children while he was a minister.”

He said that the claim was clearly ridiculous, adding that nothing could be further from the truth.

The statement said, “In the first place, the former President couldn’t have been a ‘tutor’ to Etete’s children without first establishing a contact with the family. This is because Jonathan met Etete, who served as the Petroleum Minister in Gen. (Sani) Abacha’s military regime for the first time under the succeeding civilian administration, when he was already the deputy governor of Bayelsa State. Even then, the fact remains that ex-President Jonathan has never met any of Etete’s children.

“Jonathan could not have been anybody’s private tutor during that period because he was already in the directorate cadre in the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, (now NDDC), having already left the academics, at the time Etete was a serving minister.”

He said that the latest allegation came after the publication of a story that he refused to help the British Government in rescuing the Chibok girls.

The former President noted that the British Government had  denied the story.

He also cited a publication that he planned to contest the 2019 election as another lie.

The statement added, “It is instructive that this same old fable apparently intended to rubbish Jonathan’s name locally and internationally is being recycled with more lies added to garnish the narrative, at a time the ex-President is making efforts to resolve the issues in the Peoples Democratic Party.

“Again, let us point out for clarity and for the umpteenth time that while he was in office and now that he is out of office, former President Jonathan did not open and does not own any bank account, aircraft or real estate outside Nigeria. Anyone with contrary information is challenged to publicly publish same.”    (Punchng.com)

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$1.3bn Malabu Bribe: Jonathan May Have Received $200 m, Says Report

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), as well as some members of the National Assembly may have received about $400m from the $1.3bn paid by oil giants Shell and Eni, into a Federal Government escrow account, a new report suggests.

A former Russian Ambassador and Intelligence Officer, Ednan Agaev, was quoted as saying this while speaking with officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States as well as Italian prosecutors, according to a report by an  American news website, Buzzfeed.

Detectives in the US, the Netherlands and Italy are jointly investigating the $1.3bn Malabu scam which Nigerian officials have described as the biggest single scam ever perpetrated against the Nigerian people.

Agaev’s testimony has since been tendered in an Italian court as evidence where Adoke and a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, are being charged. Etete is also said to be the owner of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

According to the court documents, Agaev, who worked as a middleman between the oil companies and Etete during the Malabu deal, told the FBI and Italian prosecutors that Etete had told him he needed to pay $400m in bribes to senior Nigerian officials and parliamentarians.

The report states in part, “Agaev was asked about payment of his commission. Agaev stated that he went to Etete and told him to pay him  $65,000,000. Agaev stated that Etete said, ‘I can’t pay you, I have to pay Adoke [Mohammed Bello Adoke, then Nigeria’s attorney general] $400m and all the other people in the Senate and the National assembly.’ Agaev stated that he would think President Goodluck Jonathan got at least $200m of this money.”

In a follow-up interview with Italian authorities, Agaev repeated his allegations. “I said that if it’s true, that he paid, he had to pay $400m, I assume that at least $200m went to Goodluck,” he said. “I heard from Chief (Etete), he claims that he had to pay $400m, so, if this is true, if he paid $ 400 million, then most probably the President, as the biggest boss, took at least the half of it.”

Jonathan, Etete, Adoke and all indicted oil firms have, however, denied all the allegations levelled against them.

When one of our correspondents contacted the former President’s spokesman, Ikechukwu Eze, on Sunday, he said, “I refer to your enquiry over what you described as a new report accusing former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of receiving millions of dollars as a kickback to approve the sale of OPL 245 oil field.

“To me there is nothing new in this recycled fallacy. I am aware that following some speculative news reports earlier in the year, on this same conjecture and fabricated claims, and the public interest they generated, ex-President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s Office offered a clarification in a statement issued in January, 2017.”

Jonathan, had in the January statement, described the allegation as a false narrative

“We make bold to point out that the former President never sent Abubakar Aliyu or anybody else, as the innuendoes in the false report suggest, to ENI, the IOCs or any indigenous operator to seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf,” he had said.

The Malabu Oil scandal involves the $1.3bn paid by oil giants, Shell and Eni, to Federal Government accounts in 2011 for OPL 245 which is said to hold reserves of about 9.23 billion barrels of oil.

The OPL 245 was said to have been bought by Etete under questionable circumstances in 1998 when he was the oil minister. Etete was said to have bought it for a fraction of its actual value. However, it was revoked by the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

During the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, the then AGF, Adoke, brokered a deal for the sale of the OPL 245, acting as a middleman between Shell and Eni on the one hand, and Etete’s company, Malabu, on the other hand.

Shell and Eni were said to have paid about $1.3bn for the OPL 245 which was paid into two escrow accounts owned by the Federal Government.  However, Adoke was said to have transferred over $800m to Etete who in turn transferred over $500m to Aliyu, Jonathan’s alleged front.                      (Punchng.com)

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Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan Endorsed Malabu Agreement, Adoke Insists

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3 ex-Presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan

By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi

Former  attorney general of the Federation and minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) insisted, at the weekend, that the controversial Malabu oil Block Agreement was endorsed by the previous administrations of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

In a formal letter to his successor and the current Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Adoke narrated how Terms of Settlement on the controversial oil block were brokered and executed by Obasanjo’s administration before its implementation  by Jonathan’s administration.

Adoke also urged Malami to investigate the matter thoroughly and if found wanting, should not hesitate to prosecute him.

 “I believe it is your responsibility to explain to the public who are being sold a fiction that the transaction started from president Olusegun Obasanjo, under whose administration the Terms of Settlement were brokered with Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), as the then attorney general, who executed the Terms of Settlement before the tenure of president Jonathan, who approved the final implementation of the Terms of Settlement and my humble self who executed the resolution agreements. This is more so as the Settlement and its implementation were situated in the Federal Ministry of Justice.

 “Honourable attorney general of the Federation, your response is crucial because it has become glaring that the actions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in respect of the transaction are not in the national interest; but rather in furtherance of a plot to serve the interests of some powerful families and individuals who are aggrieved by my refusal to accede to their requests to compel Malabu to pay them certain sums from the proceeds of its divestment in OPL 245, and the subsequent re-allocation of the Block to Shell/ENI. You will recall that I had, on several occasions, asserted this fact. I am, therefore, surprised that a national institution is being used to further the interest of individuals whose claim or shareholding, in Malabu, remains shady and prefer to engage proxies to fight their battles.”

On the recent filed charges by anti-corruption agency against him and others, Adoke stated that “recent actions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to impugn the settlement which was done in the national interest particularly their penchant to suppress facts relating to the transaction and the filing of criminal charges against me for conspiracy/ aiding the commission of Money Laundering offence and the latest allegations of bribe taking reveal very clearly that either your Office and that of the EFCC are not working in harmony or that something sinister is going on.

“Having given you the benefit of the doubt that you would not sponsor deliberate falsehood against me, my suspicion is that there is an orchestrated plot by the EFCC to: deliberately impugn a transaction that has been scrutinized and approved by at least three past Presidents and three Attorneys General; drag my name in the mud and paint me with the tar of corruption in order to attract public odium.”

 Adoke also advised Malami that “As the chief law officer of the Federation, you have a public duty to speak on this matter so that Nigerians would know whether I acted mala fide or abused my office in the entire transaction leading to the final implementation of the Settlement. Nigerians need to know whether your predecessors in office from 2006 to May 2015 acted in the  national interest when they brokered and implemented the Settlement.

 “It will also be instructive for Nigerians to know whether your predecessors were carrying out their personal agenda or that their respective actions were carried out with the knowledge and approval of their respective Principals.

  “if you find that I had breached my oath of office or abused my office, please do not hesitate to bring me to justice. However, if it is the contrary, as I strongly believe, that certain individuals who had vowed to even scores with me are now being aided by state institutions such as the EFCC; I deserve protection from these unwarranted attacks and dehumanising treatment that I am being subjected to merely because I chose to serve my fatherland.”

Recently, EFCC filed charges against Adoke and some former officials over the Malabu oil deal.                               (The Sun)

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EFCC Controlled By Powerful Interests, Says ex-AGF, Adoke

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ex-AGF, Mohammed Adoke

 

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

A former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN), has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of being used by powerful interests.

Adoke, who has been charged by the EFCC for his alleged role in the $1.1bn Malabu scam alongside 10 others, said this in a statement on Friday.

He said, “I had informed Nigerians in my previous reactions that I had become a target of these powerful individuals for refusing to allow the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to be used to settle their private business interests and the fact that they had vowed to use their connections in government and with the EFCC to settle personal scores with me.

“It is now clear to me that the EFCC is working hands in glove with them and lending its institutional support to this devilish scheme.”

The EFCC had on Thursday, charged Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited, ENI SPA and three Italians for corruptly handing over $801,000,000 to Adoke; a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Dan Etete; Chairman of AA Oil, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar; and Etete’s company, Malabu Oil and Gas.

The $801,000,000 was said to be part payment for OPL 245, which is said to hold reserves of about 9.23 billion barrels of oil.

Adoke said instead of the EFCC pursuing the case in the interest of Nigerians, “we hear of how the interests of the Abacha family in OPL 245 were not protected or that the records of Malabu with the Corporate Affairs Commission were altered to exclude certain powerful individuals with close links to the EFCC and this administration.”

The ex-minister of justice added, “I am concerned that the EFCC has continued to allow its investigations/operations in respect of OPL 245 to be micro-managed and/or guided by some non-state actors and powerful families with professed ownership interests in the block.

“These non-state actors are hell bent on using state institutions as proxies in their nefarious quest to outsmart each other to the proceeds of Malabu’s divestment from OPL 245.”

The former attorney-general said in a bid to paint him as a corrupt person, the EFCC was fabricating evidence against him.

Adoke said he had taken a loan of about N300m to buy a property in Abuja but the EFCC was twisting facts to make it seem as if the money was obtained from the purported Malabu bribe.

He added, “While not going into the merits, it is pertinent to state that I had applied for a Mortgage in the sum of N300,000,000 from Unity Bank of Nigeria to purchase a property from Aliyu Abubakar, a property developer in Abuja. The bank paid the loan sum directly to the developer and when I could not meet up with the repayments or pay the balance; it opted to repossess the property.”   ( Punchng.com)

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Malabu Oil Deal: Shell, Etete, Adoke, Face Charges For Alleged $801m Bribe

 Yusuf Alli

EFCCboss

EFCC set for trial of ex-ministers, businessman, others over Malabu Oil deal

All is set for the legal battle over the alleged $801million Malabu oil deal bribe.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday filed charges against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete, a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Bello Adoke (SAN) and a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar.

Also charged are eight others.

The others are: Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited;  Nigeria Agip  Exploration Limited; ENI SPA; Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Ralph Wetzels (ex- director of SNEPCO), Casula Roberto (Italian) and director of AGIP; Pujatti Stefano (Italian) and director in AGIP; and Burafato Sebastiano (Italian).

A United Kingdom (UK) anti-corruption group, Global Witness, claimed that $523million of the bribe was paid to some fronts of a former president.

The charge sheet,  dated February 28,  states that all the accused persons will be arraigned before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Division.

No date has been fixed for their arraignment.

All the 11 suspects will face three charges bordering on the alleged official corruption of about $801million.

According to the charges filed by the EFCC  legal team, comprising Johnson Ojogbane, H.M. Mohammed and Victor Ukagwu, all the accused persons are to face trial for alleged:

  • conspiracy, contrary to Section 26 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 12 of the same Act; and
  • official corruption contrary to Section 9 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 9 (b) of the same Act.

The particulars of the offence are as follows:

“That you Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigeria Agip  Exploration Limited, ENI SPA, Ralph Wetzels (whilst being director of SNEPCO), Casula Roberto (Italian) whilst being the director of AGIP; Pujatti Stefano (Italian) while being the director in AGIP; Burafato Sebastiano(Italian), while being a Director with AGIP; Douzia Louya Etete (a.k.a Dan Etete); Mohammed Bello Adoke; Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited sometime in 2011 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: Official corruption and thereby committed an offence.

“That  you Douzia Louya Etete (a.k.a Dan Etete), Mohammed Bello Adoke; Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited sometime in 2011 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court corruptly received the aggregate sum of $801million in relation to the grant of Oil Prospecting Licence in respect of OPL 245 from Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited and ENI SPA and thereby committed an offence.

“That you Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigeria Agip  Exploration Limited, ENI SPA, Ralph Wetzels(whilst being Director of SNEPCO), Casula Roberto(Italian) whilst being the Director of AGIP; Pujatti Stefano (Italian) while being the Director in AGIP; Burafato Sebastiano(Italian), while being a Director with AGIP; Douzia Louya Etete(a.k.a Dan Etete); Mohammed Bello Adoke; Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited sometime in 2011 within the jurisdiction of this court corruptly gave the aggregate sum of $801million to Douzia Louya Etete(a.k.a Dan Etete) , Mohammed Bello Adoke; Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited on account of the grant of Oil Prospecting Licence in respect of OPL 245 and thereby committed an offence.”

This is the second time some of the accused persons will be facing trial.

The EFCC on  December 20, 2016, filed nine charges bordering on alleged mismanagement of $1,616,690,656.78 Malabu Oil cash against Adoke, Etete, Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Rocky  Top Resources Limited; Imperial Union Limited; Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, Group Construction Limited and Megatech Engineering Limited.

The nine-count charge was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The charges came barely 48 hours after ENI SPA insisted that the sale of OPL 245(Malabu Oil Block) was not fraudulent.

The Board of Directors of Eni(Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited) claimed that all transactions relating to the $1,616,690,656.78 Malabu oil block were clean.

The oil firm said it arrived at the conclusion after commissioning forensic investigations into the controversy over the sale of the oil block.

It said an independent United States law firm conducted the investigations and returned a not guilty verdict.

The statement said: “Eni’s Board of Directors today takes note of the outcome of further forensic investigations into the 2011 transaction between Eni and Shell and the Nigerian Government for the acquisition of the OPL 245 licence in Nigeria.

The investigations were conducted by an independent US law firm. They were commissioned by Eni’s Board of Statutory Auditors and Watch Structure.

“The investigations examined the new materials and further information filed by the Milan prosecutors as part of the closure of the investigation in December 2016.

“The law firm confirms the conclusions reached by previous investigations in 2015, stating that there is no evidence of corrupt conduct in relation to the transaction.

Eni’s Board of Directors confirmed its total confidence that neither the company nor its CEO Claudio Descalzi was involved in alleged illicit conduct under investigation.”

Global Witness had alleged that about $523million of the $1.1billion paid by Shell and Eni for Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245) went to some fronts of a former president.

It said the deal deprived the country of a sum equivalent to 80% of its 2015 health budget in a country where more than 60% of the population live in poverty.

The group made the disclosures in a statement by its Director, Simon Taylor.

It also wrote a letter to the EFCC not to waiver in its determination to probe the sale of the oil block.

The statement said: “We applaud the Nigerian authorities for fighting back against corruption without fear or favour, making sure there are real consequences for taking part in shady deals like with OPL 245.”

“The lucrative OPL 245 oil block was allocated in 1998 for $20m – a fraction of its value now – to Malabu Oil & Gas, a company secretly owned by the then oil Minister, Etete.

“The OPL 245 block, off the coast of Nigeria is owned 50-50 by Shell and Eni and contains probable reserves of 9.23 billion barrels of oil, representing potentially massive bookable reserves for the companies.

“Shell currently holds 11.75 billion barrels of proven oil equivalent reserves and Eni holds 6.89 billion barrels of proven oil equivalent reserves.

“The block was eventually passed on to Shell and Eni in 2011 in exchange for a payment of $1.1bn which flowed to Malabu rather than to the Nigerian state.

“The former Minister of Justice Adoke by his own account acted as a broker in the deal. This deal deprived the country of a sum equivalent to 80% of its 2015 health budget in a country where more than 60% of the population live in poverty.

”Shell and Eni have always denied that they knew the money they paid would go to Malabu, but documents seen by Global Witness show that the companies in fact constructed the deal knowing that the money would flow ultimately to Malabu.

“Prosecutors in the UK have previously alleged that $523m of Shell and Eni’s payment went to alleged “fronts for former President of Nigeria (names withheld) as part of a deal that was effectively a “smash and grab” on Nigeria.

In a separate letter, the group praised the Acting EFCC chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu for the “sterling investigatory work” by the commission on the Malabu oil deal.

The letter said a Global witness was “ delighted to read press reports that former Attorney-General Mohammed Bello Adoke, Chief Etete and others have been implicated by the EFCC for fraud and money laundering in respect of the OPL 245 oil deal.

The letter added: “We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our admiration for the sterling investigatory work by the EFCC, under your leadership, that has brought this case to court.

“We believe that the case will send a powerful message to the world that Nigeria is intent on prosecuting corruption without fear or favour.”

The anti-corruption group, however, noted the reactions of some key actors in the Settlement Agreement on the oil block.

It added: “In a statement, Mohammed Adoke said ‘I hope to at the appropriate time make myself available to defend the charge for what whatever its worth.’ He also emphasised that he did not benefit from the deal, which he said saved the government from a breach of contract suit in which Shell was claiming $2 billion.

“He called the charges “orchestrated plans to bring me to public disrepute in order to satisfy the whims and caprices of some powerful interests on a revenge mission.”

“Shell has insisted that they did not pay Malabu directly and that all payments went to an escrow account held by the Government of Nigeria.

“In a response to a request for comment from Global Witness in April 2015, Shell said, “We do not agree with the premise behind various public statements made by Global Witness about Shell companies in relation to OPL 245.” It has not responded to more recent requests to comment.

Eni responded to questions on the deal in May 2016 saying “Independent enquiries and the investigations commissioned by Eni’s Watch Structure and Board of Statutory Auditors from specialised American law firms have found no evidence of illegal conduct on the part of the Company.”

“Antonio Tricarico of Re: Common said, The Italian Government must ask serious questions of the involvement of Senior Eni executives in a deal that has now lead to senior Nigerian officials being charged with criminal offences.”  (The Nation)

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Malabu Oil Deal Predates My Presidency, I Did’nt Send Anyone To Take Bribe |The Republican News

Our Reporter

 

Ex-President: transactions predate me 

Former President Godluck Jonathan yesterday denied collecting $466m kickback in the fraud-fraught $1.3 billion OPL 245 Malabu oil deal involving oil giants Shell and ENI.
A report by French News Agency AFP on Monday quoted Italian prosecutors as naming the former president and his Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, among those who collected the bribe after the former president met with top officials of the oil companies.
The report quoted the prosecutors as alleging in documents filed by Italian prosecutors last December in Milan, that Jonathan met with Chief Executive of ENI, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni, to discuss the deal.
The prosecutors alleged that Jonathan and Mrs Alison-Madueke benefited from $466m converted into naira and used to buy property, aircraft and others.
The Italian prosecutors alleged that ENI and Shell executives worked with former Petroleum Minister Dan Etete to strike the deal.
The oil companies have denied the allegations.

Read also: Malabu Oil Deal: UK Group Alleges $523m Went To Ex-President Fronts |The Republican News
In a statement by his Media Adviser Ikechukwu Eze, Dr. Jonathan denied it all.
He said: “We wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged for corruptly collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.
“In the first place, we have to categorically state that the negotiations and transactions for the oil block deal predate the presidency of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which began on 6th May 2010 and ended on 29th May 2015.
“It may interest those promoting this false narrative to know that all the documents relating to the transactions, issues and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabo issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice.
“As President of Nigeria, there is no doubt that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan met with executives of all the oil majors operating in Nigeria and urged them to, amongst other things, support the growth of the Nigerian oil industry by ramping up their investments and comply with the Local Content Act that he promoted and signed into law.
“We however wish to state, for emphasis, that at no time did the former President hold private meetings with representatives of ENI to discuss pecuniary issues. All the meetings and discussions former President Jonathan had with ENI, other IOCs and some indigenous operators were conducted officially, and in the presence of relevant Nigerian Government officials and were done in the best interest of the country.
“We make bold to point out that the former President never sent any Abubakar Aliyu, as the innuendoes in the false report suggest, to ENI, the IOCs or any indigenous operator to seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf.

Read also: Ex-Minister, Dan Etete, Others, Set For Trial In Italy |The Republican News
“We will like to point out for the umpteenth time that whether in office or out of office, former President Jonathan does not own any bank account, aircraft or real estate outside Nigeria. Anyone with contrary information is challenged to publicly publish same.
“As the President who signed the Freedom of Information Act into law, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan lifted the veil on governance and encouraged transparency, knowing that evil breeds in secrecy. It is the opinion of the former President that journalists and media houses should take advantage of this law in their investigative journalism, rather than rely on hearsay.”   (The Nation)

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