By Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media and Publicity, EFCC
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is alarmed by the brazen attempt by former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke to rewrite history and portray himself as victim of persecution regarding the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s investigation of the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement.
In the last few days the Nigerian media has been awash with previews of Adoke’s book, titled: “Burden of Service: Reminiscences of Nigeria’s former Attorney General,” in which he took aim at the EFCC boss as being part of a deadly triumvirate that had been hounding and persecuting him since he left office in 2015. The other two alleged traducers, mentioned by Adoke are the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and former senate leader, Alli Ndume. Adoke claims that he had been viciously maligned by this threesome to the extent that he contemplated suicide.
Specifically, he claimed in Chapter 8 of the book, that Magu was recruited by Prof. Osinbajo to hound and persecute him despite, as he claimed, his role in reinstating Magu to the EFCC from the police “where he had been vegetating.”
Adoke attributes his source of information on the alleged Osinbajo instruction to Magu against him to an unnamed governor from the North West, who according to him, claimed Magu told him that he had the instruction of Osinbajo to “deal with Adoke.”
Adoke equally claims that an unnamed senator also confided in him that Magu nursed a personal grouse against him because he believed that he (Adoke) owned half of the Centinary City in Abuja.
That Adoke neither named the North West governor nor the Senator that provided the weighty intelligence on which he took Magu to the guillotine in his book, could only mean one thing: the claims are tissues of lies, contrived to entertain and attract underserved attention to himself. The acting Chairman of EFCC Ibrahim Magu categorically states that at no time did the Vice President discuss, counsel, or direct him in any way on any issue concerning Mr. Adoke. It is wicked and evil to make such a false allegation against anybody especially where it is based on hearsay.
These yarns, being spewed by hirelings of the former AGF are nothing but a marketing gimmick, dubiously orchestrated to wet public appetite and sufficiently stir curiosity ahead of the official release of the book on September 16, 2019.
But it is obvious that what Adoke is offering the reading public in the account of his sojourn in governance is nothing but a bouquet of half truths and plain lies.
The accounts in Chapters 8 and 9 as it relates to the EFCC and its Chairman, Ibrahim Magu are not only inaccurate but self serving.
For the records and emphasis, Magu never received any instructions from the Vice President, neither had he communicated verbally or in writing to any governor from the North-West or senator about such a patently false purported instruction from Osinbajo to “deal with Adoke.”
The EFCC is not the battle axe of political figures and could not have been called out to deal with anyone. Adoke’s ploy is simple. He wants to create a false narrative that the offenses for which he has been charged are not genuine but are the product of some high level conspiracy against him. But, first of all, there is no discernible reason for such a conspiracy. Secondly, it is an entirely false premise. It is clear that this is symptomatic of a drowning man clutching at straws.
Adoke ran well outside the track when he said he was instrumental to reinstating Magu, to the EFCC from the police “where he had been vegetating.” The Commission is unaware of Adoke’s role in Magu’s return to the Commission in 2012 after being away for a few years. It is well known that the EFCC Acting Chairman is a pioneer staff of the Commission, with many stripes to his sleeves by way of accomplishments that have no link to Adoke.
Magu and the EFCC have no interest in any public spat with Adoke who remains a suspect under investigation for criminal offences and against whom a competent court had issued a subsisting warrant for his arrest. The said warrant has already been executed by the International Police Organisation which placed him on its wanted list. The option before Adoke is to return home and answer to his charges.
It is however gratifying that the former AGF abandoned the idea of committing suicide as taking that route would have amounted to a monumental waste of resources on the part of the EFCC. So much has been spent in diligently investigating the OPL 245 scandal that the Commission needs Adoke to be alive to answer to his charges, and clear his name before the court.
It makes no sense to deceive the people with claims that he had been exonerated of any wrong doing by the court. As a senior advocate, he should know that a civil suit cannot exonerate one from criminal liability.
It is important for the public to know that the investigation of the lucrative Oil Prospecting License 245 Settlement deal, otherwise known as the Malabu Scandal, by EFCC was not an enterprise in witch-hunt or malice. The Magu-led leadership of the Commission, in consideration of persistent public demand for closer scrutiny of the transaction, coupled with emerging information suggestive of opacity in the consummation of the deal, acted in national interest to determine that overall public good was not sacrificed on the altar of personal interest of those who perfected the deal.
The investigation had been discreet, with no threat of direct physical harm to Adoke or any other person implicated in the deal.
The Commission’s investigation holds Adoke liable in the matter of the implementation of the settlement and resolution of agreements on Oil Prospecting License OPL 245 and OPL214 between Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, belonging to former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete and the federal government of Nigeria in 2010
It could be recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had revoked the OPL 245, which the late General Sani Abacha granted to Etete, who was his Petroleum Minister and reassigned it Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company. Etete’s Malabu Oil and Gas, however, reclaimed the oil block in 2006 through the court. While Shell challenged the decision, a fraudulent settlement and resolution was perfected under President Goodluck Jonathan’s government with Shell and Eni buying the oil block from Malabu in the sum of $1.1billion.
EFCC’s investigations however revealed crimes, that border on conspiracy, forgery of bank documents, bribery, corruption and money laundering to the tune of over $1.2 billon against Malabo oil and Gas Ltd, Shell Nigeria Ultra deep (SNUD) Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) and their officials. Some of those officials are already facing criminal trials in Switzerland and Italy.
The investigations further revealed that Etete and others fraudulently received an aggregate sum of US$ 801,540,000 (Eight Hundred Million, Five Hundred and Forty Thousand United States Dollars) from Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd and ENI SPA in relation to the oil prospecting license.
Adoke as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice allegedly abused his office in respect of the granting of the oil prospecting license OPL 245 to Shell and ENI.
A prima facie case, bordering on official corruption was established by the Commission following the investigations, culminating in court charges against Adoke, Etete and others, which is still pending before the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court.
The arraignment of Adoke SAN, Etete and others could not take place because they along with other defendants have remained at large, refusing to make themselves available for trial.
The former chief law officer of the federation prefers to remain in self exile, and engage the Commission in needless media war.
Having now satisfied his long desire to titillate the public with some tales by moonlight in the mould of a semi author-biography, Adoke should now make himself available for trial.