The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) plans to keep Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), in perpetual detention despite a court order granting him bail, insiders have told TheCable.
Although Adoke has fulfilled the bail conditions set by an FCT high court since Thursday, January 30, the EFCC gave another condition, insisting on getting the “enrolment of order” — an official summary of a court ruling issued before the full version is ready — but still refused to release him after presentation.
“We plan to go back to court to seek another detention order that will allow us keep him for a fresh 14 days, after which we will renew it and keep him for another 14 days as we continue our investigations into OPL 245,” a senior official told TheCable.
Insiders said EFCC plans to file other charges against Adoke and will use that to justify the failure to release him from prison.
“Although it is not envisaged under the administration of justice act (ACJA) that you can seek a detention order for one suspect more than once, we are prepared to test the law,” the official said.
However, Tony Oriade, the EFCC spokesman, told TheCable that Adoke will be released “as soon as he meets all the conditions” but did not go into detail.
Adoke had thrice been charged to court by the EFCC when he was on self-exile but was arrested by Interpol in Dubai, UAE, despite a court order vacating an international arrest warrant.
He returned to Nigeria on December 19 and the EFCC secured an order to detain him for 14 days.
On January 2, the court granted the agency further leave to detain him for another 14 days.
The second order expired on January 16 and, unable to keep holding him without another court order, the agency decided to charge him to court the fourth time on similar allegations already before another court.
He was accused of “abuse of office” in the OPL 245 deal which was signed in Apil 2011.
The EFCC alleged that he collected N300 million bribe in September 2013 — more than two years after the deal was signed.
Adoke has denied the allegation, maintaining that the transaction in question was a mortgage he took from Unity Bank for which he had to pay interests and penalties after failing to provide his own funds to pay the developer the agreed N500 million price.
The former AGF said the developer, Abubakar Aliyu, eventually returned the N300 million payment directly to Unity Bank and sold the property to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) thereafter.
The EFCC has also charged Aliyu to court allegedly for refusing to testify that the money was a bribe to Adoke, while Rasky Gbinigie, Malabu’s company secretary, has also been arrested for the first time since the investigations started.
Gbinigie had been accused of removing Mohammed Abacha’s name from the Malabu’s registration documents, thereby handing over the company to Dan Etete, former minister of petroleum.
THE OPL 245 AFFAIR
Adoke has alleged that Mohammed Abacha is using the EFCC to persecute him because of his shareholder dispute with Etete over the ownership of Malabu Oil & Gas Limited.
According to Adoke, Abacha wanted him to force Etete to pay his own share from the proceeds of the sale of the oil block to Shell and ENI for $1.1 billion in 2011.
Adoke said he told Abacha that it was a civil dispute that should be resolved by the shareholders rather than the office of the attorney-general of the federation.
Malabu had been awarded the oil block in 1998 when Sani Abacha, Mohammed’s father, was head of state and Etete was minister of petroleum.
Abacha and Etete both held shares under pseudonyms in Malabu but the oil block was revoked by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000.
An out-of-court settlement was reached with the federal government in 2006 to return the oil block to Malabu.
In 2010, a settlement agreement was approved when Adoke was AGF. In 2011, Malabu sold 100 per cent of its interest to Shell and ENI for $1.1 billion — but allegations of bribery have dogged the deal, leading to criminal prosecution of the oil companies in an Italian court.
In June 2019, Ednan Tofik ogly Agaev, a former Russian ambassador, told the Italian court that he was pressured, under interrogation by the FBI, to mention Adoke’s name as one of the recipients of the $400 million bribes allegedly paid to government officials in the deal.
Agaev later refused to adopt his statement to FBI in court, saying that he did not mean for it to be used against him.
Also, on July 17 in the same Italian court, Vincenzo Armanna, a former ENI manager, said Adoke confronted ENI officials that if anyone gave or took bribe over the OPL 245 deal, they would be arrested and prosecuted.