Embattled former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, returned into the waiting hands of Nigeria’s security forces after a self-imposed four-year exile but has explained that he came of his own volition.
His lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, explained in a statement: “Our client told them that he was ready to return to Nigeria on his own accord after his medicals; yet, they still kept him in illegal custody for over one month, after running into a legal logjam. It was very clear to them that the Government of Nigeria did not have any legal basis or grounds to extradite Mr Adoke back to Nigeria.
“Adoke, based on our legal advice, has therefore decided to break this unnecessary logjam and simulated stalemate that are already causing Nigeria international embarrassment by buying his own ticket to return to Nigeria voluntarily and peaceably, instead of going to another country of his choice.”
Adoke has already been flown to Abuja where the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) appears primed to begin his much-awaited trial over matters associated with the $1.06billion Malabu Oil Block ( OPL 245) deal.
There has been a legal logjam for five weeks following the failure of the Federal Government to back its demand that Adoke be extradited from Dubai where he went for medical treatment.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the EFCC, through its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, gave its own account of what transpired.
It said: “Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, arrived Nigeria today, Thursday December 19, 2019 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates into the waiting arm of operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“Adoke who fled the country in 2015, has pending criminal charge brought against him by the EFCC for alleged abuse of office and money laundering in respect of the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI.
“It would be recalled that the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked the OPL 245, which the late General Sani Abacha granted Dan Etete, his then Petroleum Minister, and reassigned it to 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 consummated under President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, with Shell and ENI buying the oil block from Malabu in the sum of $1.1billion.
“Investigations by the EFCC into the deal revealed crimes that border on conspiracy, forgery of bank documents, bribery, corruption and money laundering to the tune of over $1.2 billion against Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep (SNUD), Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) and their officials, culminating in criminal charges against Adoke, Etete and others, which are pending at both the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court, Abuja
“The absence of the defendants slowed the prosecution of the criminal charges against Adoke, Etete, and four others, forcing the EFCC to obtain an arrest warrant against them on April 17, 2019.
“Though Justice D. Z. Senchi of Federal Capital Territory High Court, Jabi, Abuja on Friday, October 25, 2019, vacated the arrest warrant and ordered the EFCC to serve defendants through substituted means, the Interpol on November 18, arrested the former minister in Dubai.
“His return to Nigeria clears the way for him to answer to the charges against him.”