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‘Correct Nigeria’s false depositions in UK court’ — Adoke tackles Malami over JP Morgan case

‘Correct Nigeria’s false depositions in UK court’ — Adoke tackles Malami over JP Morgan case
March 03
22:43 2022

Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), has written a letter of complaint to Abubakar Malami over Nigeria’s depositions before a UK court in its case against JP Morgan Chase.

Nigeria is claiming more than $1.7 billion in compensation for the bank’s role in the controversial Malabu/OPL 245 transaction of 2011.

Shell and ENI had transferred $1.3 billion to Nigeria’s account at JP Morgan — made up of $1.1 billion payment to Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, the original owners of OPL 245, and $210 million to the government as signature bonus.

Nigeria is arguing that JP Morgan was “grossly negligent” in transferring payments to Malabu, alleging that there was corruption on the part of its government officials, specifically mentioning Adoke.

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‘FALSE DEPOSITIONS’

In a letter written by his lawyer, Paul Erokoro, to Malami, the AGF, and dated March 3, 2022, Adoke said the allegations of corruption and money laundering levelled against him in the High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts of England and Wales Admiralty and Commercial Court are false.

Adoke said Malami had written to both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2017 to affirm that there was no evidence of corruption in the OPL 245 deal.

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He said Ibe Kachikwu, former minister of state for petroleum resources, also wrote to Buhari in 2017, based on Malami’s legal opinion, that the resolution agreement on OPL 245 which was reached by the President Olusegun Obasanjo government with Malabu in 2006 was binding on Nigeria.

Adoke said Justice BFM Nyako also delivered a judgement in 2018 to the effect that his role in the OPL 245 agreement was based on lawful presidential directive for which he does not have any personal liability as he was merely carrying out an order.

‘FUTURE AGF CAN SAY YOU ARE CORRUPT TOO’

Erokoro commended Malami for the “high quality” of his legal advice to the government but said he found it “remarkable that you are portraying him (Adoke)  as corrupt for giving the same advice that you have so wisely given the government. Surely you would not expect a future Attorney-General to say that you too were corrupted by Malabu since you gave the same legal advice that had earlier been given by our client.

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“There can be no doubt that you did the right thing in advising the government to bring the Shell/Malabu dispute to a tidy close so that Nigeria can earn the huge revenue promised by the OPL 245 Oil Field.  There is no fraud whatsoever in your legal advice on this point, just as there was none in our client’s”.

Adoke’s lawyer wrote: “You are also aware that even though at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, you had charged our client with receiving gratification in the sum of N300m from Mr. Aliyu Abubakar on account of OPL 245, your witnesses, including the EFCC investigator, later admitted in sister proceedings at the Federal High Court that the said N300m was not gratification from the Malabu transactions, but the refund of a loan taken by our client from Unity Bank to purchase a house from Mr. Abubakar, with the title documents to the property deposited as an equitable mortgage for the loan.

“The evidence before the court is that Mr. Abubakar later sold the same property to the Central Bank of Nigeria when our client could not pay the balance of N200m. Your witnesses even produced documents to prove the loan/mortgage transaction and further testified that the N300m refunded by Mr. Abubakar had been used to repay the Bank loan and extinguish the mortgage.

“As you know, the Italian Court has discharged and acquitted all defendants, including Mr. Abubakar Aliyu, of the criminal charges that had been filed in that country on account of the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement of 2011, and the prosecutors in that case are being investigated for withholding from the Court, evidence that would have further exonerated the defendants.”

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WITHDRAWAL OF FORGED EMAIL CHARGE

Adoke said he had also complained to the police over an email he purportedly sent to JP Morgan in 2011 over the OPL 245 deal when he was no longer a minister as well as a stage-managed radio interview.

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The police report indicted Olanrewaju Suraju, a civil society activist, he said.

“In spite of the clear findings by the Police, your office later amended the charges in respect of the forged email. From what is now reported of the proceedings in England, it is reasonable to conclude that your office deliberately amended the charge of forgery against Mr. Suraju in order to keep alive the fiction being passed off as truth to the High Court of England – that our client had sent the forged email,” Eroroko wrote.

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“It is disheartening that the good name of our country is being associated with such unethical methods in a misguided view of ‘national interest’. It appears that the office of the Attorney General has embraced the discredited doctrines of ‘the end justifies the means’ and ‘all is fair in war’. To say the least, this is most regrettable.”

He asked the AGF, “as an Officer in the Temple of Justice”, is required to, at all times, “place the true facts before the court. This is irrespective of the interest at play”.

“Finally, we are to convey our client’s respect for the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and his abiding faith in your ability to discharge the constitutional duty required of the office as well as your sense of justice, which should propel you to take immediate steps to correct the false depositions made against him in the on-going proceedings before the Commercial Court in the United Kingdom, and indeed, all other proceedings involving him,” the lawyer said.

The letter was copied to the court manager of the Business and Property Court, Commercial List, and Nigeria’s solicitors — Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, and Andrew Mitchell.

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