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Adoke’s trial has nothing to do with OPL 245, judge tells journalists

Adoke’s trial has nothing to do with OPL 245, judge tells journalists
August 13
18:45 2020

Inyang Ekwo, the judge presiding over the trial of Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), has warned litigants and journalists against misrepresenting the case before him.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Adoke and Aliyu Abubakar, a businessman and property developer, at the federal high court, Abuja, on a 14-count charge alleging money laundering.

Both are answering to seven counts each.

In count nine, the EFCC accused Adoke of making a cash payment of $2,267,400 (about N300 million at the time) to Rislanudeen Mohammed, a former acting managing director of Unity Bank Plc, in 2013.

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However, the former banker, who is one of the two EFCC witnesses, told the court on Thursday that the money was a refund of the loan taken from the bank in 2012 by Adoke and is “not a proceed of crime”.

Since 2016, the EFCC had been accusing Adoke of collecting a N300 million bribe from Abubakar in the OPL 245/Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd transaction of 2011.

GRAVE SILENCE ON OPL 245

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But when the EFCC re-arranged Adoke and Abubukar early August 2020, there was no single mention of OPL 245 or Malabu Oil in the charge sheet, although the trial revolves around the same N300 million.

Many media outlets have nevertheless been reporting that Adoke is on trial over the OPL 245/Malabu affair.

At the end of court proceedings on Thursday, Ekwo said the case before the court has nothing to do with Malabu.

He warned litigants and the media to desist from giving conflicting reports, saying “the records of the court are available for everyone who wants to know the particulars of the case”.

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‘LOAN’ IN ITALY, ‘BRIBE’ IN NIGERIA

Adoke has maintained that the N300 million in question was a loan he took from Unity Bank Plc in 2012 to buy a N500 million property from Abubakar.

He said when he could not provide his N200 million equity contribution and the regulatory authorities queried the nonperforming loan at Unity Bank, the N300 million was refunded to the bank.

He said Abubakar later sold the house to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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In the ongoing trial of Shell and Eni in Italy, Sergio Spadaro, the Italian deputy prosecutor, confirmed to a Milan court on July 6 that indeed, Adoke got a N300 million mortgage from Unity Bank for a property valued at N500 million.

However, he said the N200 million difference was a benefit in kind for Adoke, describing it as a bribe in the OPL 245 deal.

Adoke swiftly accused the prosecutors of “hiding material facts” from court that the CBN bought the property from Abubakar and that he never took possession of the property because he could not make his N200 million contribution.

The former AGF has been alleging political persecution over his trial, maintaining that he did no wrong in the OPL 245 transaction.

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He denied collecting any bribe.

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