•Challenges anti-graft agency to say who got what
•Says Malabu oil deals were done with presidential approval
A former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke(SAN), yesterday rejected accusation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) that he and 10 others shared $801million bribe from the auctioning of the $1.6billion Malabu Oil Block.
He branded as spurious and malicious the three charges leveled against him and the 10 others by the anti-graft agency.
He asked the commission, which he used to supervise as Justice Minister ,to release the details of how the alleged $801million bribe was shared including the release of a list of who got what.
He claimed that he did nothing wrong as the Settlement Agreement and all transactions on Oil Prospecting Licence 245 (Malabu Oil Block) were effected with requisite Presidential Approvals.
He said the decision to go into Settlement Agreement by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan saved Nigeria over $2billion in damages from the ICSID Arbitration that was instituted by Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD).
Adoke, who made the clarifications in a statement in Abuja, accused EFCC of colluding with some powerful individuals whom he resisted in office, to now rubbish him.
He said the powerful individuals wanted to use the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation during his tenure to settle their private business interests.
He said he was being witch-hunted because those powerful individuals were angry that the interest of the Abacha family in the oil block was not protected.
He denied benefitting from any $2.2million bribe of the $801m in question.
Adoke asked the EFCC to release the fact-sheet on the bribery to Nigerians.
He said: “Furthermore, Nigerians should be given details of the alleged bribes paid. We are interested to know who got what? From whom? and the relevant dates.
“It is not enough for agencies of government to label former state-actors as corrupt in the public space without putting information upon which they assert their claim to the public for proper scrutiny.
“The EFCC relies on a gullible populace that does not ask pertinent questions to perpetrate injustice and this should not be allowed to take firm roots in our polity or else the war against corruption will not only be tainted with corruption but also hijacked to satisfy the whims and caprices of a few powerful individuals with the right family and political connections to this administration.”
The ex-Minister dismissed the charges against him and the others as a ploy by the EFCC to taint the OPL 245 Agreement with illegality.
He said the “renewed move to taint the transaction with illegality is coming at the heels of the spirited moves being made by the EFCC to defend the Interim Forfeiture Order they secured against the beneficiaries of the Block (Shell and ENI) who are challenging it.
“While it is not within my province to join the fray, as the beneficiaries are capable of vigorously asserting their interests, I am however concerned that the EFCC has continued to allow its investigations/operations in respect OPL 245 to be micro-managed and/or tele-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.
“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.
“Has the EFCC gone overboard? How else can one explain the Commission’s deliberate suppression of facts at their disposal and the orchestration of falsehood in a bid to portray me to the public as a corrupt official?”
Adoke said it was reckless of the EFCC to link the N300million mortgage he took from Unity Bank Plc with the $2.2million allegation.
His words: “What is responsible for this reckless and reprehensible move by the EFCC to link my mortgage repayment to Unity Bank of Nigeria to the alleged bribe of $2.2 million, when the documentation in the bank in respect of the mortgage is available for any objective person to appraise and come to an informed conclusion?
“While not going into the merits, it is pertinent to state that I had applied for a mortgage loan in the sum of N300million 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; he opted to repossess the property. I consented to this option and the developer directly paid the bank the loan sum and the Certificate of Occupancy was released to him.
“The EFCC is aware of this transaction and the fact that the developer subsequently sold the property to the Central Bank of Nigeria. If this were not the case, they would have applied to have the mortgaged property forfeited.
“Despite this information, the EFCC in furtherance of its preconceived plan to ridicule and tarnish my name has hinged on this mortgage transaction to slam me with a preposterous charge of collecting a bribe of $2.2 million on the OPL 245 resolution transaction.”
Adoke insisted that the Settlement Agreement was legal with requisite presidential approvals.
He also said the decision of the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to enter into the agreement saved the nation about $2billion.
He said: “I wish to restate, once more, that to the best of my knowledge, information and belief, there was nothing illegal or shady about the resolution of the dispute over the ownership and operation of OPL 245.
“All the state actors that midwifed the settlement including my humble self, acted in the national interests.
“We had the requisite Presidential Approvals to enter into a negotiated settlement, execute the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement & the OPL 245 Re-Allocation and all other ancillary steps required to ensure that the transaction was consummated.
“It is disheartening to note that the EFCC is only focused on impugning the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement without informing Nigerians on the benefits that the Nigerian State has derived from the settlement.
“It is on record that our actions saved Nigeria over $2billion in damages from the ICSID Arbitration that was instituted by SNUD; resolved claims of MALABU against the Federal Government of Nigeria over the Ownership of OPL 245, and settled the competing claims of MALABU and SNUD over OPL 245 that had over two decades prevented the BLOCK 245 from being operational despite the immense economic benefits derivable from its operation.
“Instead, 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.”
He attributed his travails to his refusal to allow the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to be hijacked by certain powerful individuals.
He said: “It will be recalled that I had asserted, while in office, that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation would not be used to settle the personal interests of these powerful families and individuals and that the law courts were available for them to ventilate their so called “ownership or shareholding disputes in Malabu Oil & Gas Limited”.
“But, regrettably, it would appear that times have changed; state-actors are now willing to align forces with them either for pecuniary gains and/or political exigencies to use state machinery to impugn and set aside the transaction for their benefit.
“I am perceived to be an obstacle to the realization of this ignoble objective, hence this renewed and persistent attacks and harassment on my person.
Nigerians are invited to x-ray the transaction, ascertain who had title to OPL 245, the competing claims against the Federal Government of Nigeria from Malabu and SNUD, the terms of OPL 245 Resolution Agreement and OPL 245 Re- Allocation Agreement, whether signature bonus on OPL 245 was paid to the FGN, whether the Escrow account was jointly operated by FGN and Shell.”