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HEDA threatens to sue Adoke over ‘forgery’ petition

HEDA threatens to sue Adoke over ‘forgery’ petition
May 02
21:49 2021

The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) has threatened to sue Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation, for petitioning the police over allegations of forgery.

HEDA and its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said in a statement on Sunday that Adoke would be sued for defamation if he did not withdraw the petition.

Adoke had, in a petition to the inspector-general of police, alleged that an e-mail used as evidence in the OPL 245 trial in Italy was forged to falsify his relationship with one of the defendants, Aliyu Abubakar.

He also alleged that a taped telephone interview was forged to create the impression that he admitted to an Italian journalist that he knew the OPL 245 deal was a scam.

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In a statement shared with TheCable, HEDA said it was giving a 14-day ultimatum to Adoke, a senior advocate of Nigeria, to retract his “defamatory statement” or face court action.

HEDA said the petition was a “conscious attempt to employ bully tactics” so as to divert public attention from the substance “which involves a string of shady deals committed by top Nigerian officials in the celebrated OPL 245 scam”.

However, an Italian court has discharged and acquitted Shell, Eni and other defendants of corruption charges in the $1.1 billion OPL 245 deal.

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Adoke was not on trial in Italy but is currently being prosecuted in Nigeria by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of money laundering.

“Defamation is being employed as a tool to shift public debate from a clear case of corruption involving Nigerian politicians and their collaborators. The case of forgery of emails made by Adoke and his group is a cheap act of defamation that HEDA will vigorously challenge,” Suraju wrote in the petition addressed to Kanu Agabi, lawyer to Adoke.

HEDA’s UK partners, The Corner House and Global Witness, have been rallying support for Suraju, who was quizzed by the police over the petition and is due to appear again on Monday.

The Corner House has also threatened to sue Adoke for defamation, giving a 10-day ultimatum for retraction which has now lapsed.

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Adoke’s lawyers have refused to comment on the press releases, maintaining that the police should be allowed to do their job.

“We are not very good at media war,” one of the lawyers told TheCable, “so we would prefer the law to take its course.”

AN EMAIL AND A TAPE

A “Mohammed Adoke” was said to have communicated with JP Morgan, the bankers, in June 2011 over the OPL 245 transaction via the address of a company owned by Abubakar.

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The e-mail was intended to support the claim that there was corruption because Adoke and Abubakar “worked together” on the deal.

Debunking the e-mail, Adoke said he was no longer minister as of the date it was sent and had no reason to use another person’s e-mail address when he and his aides had their own.

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He also said he always signs off his name with his SAN rank — unlike the “Mohammed Adoke” that allegedly sent the e-mail.

While not denying knowing Abubakar, he said the document was meant to falsify a relationship between them to promote a pre-determined agenda.

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The former minister also alleged that a phone conversation in 2017 was state-managed and an Adoke impostor was recorded as saying he knew the OPL 245 deal was a scam.

Adoke said he never granted any interview to the journalist and that the Nigerian phone said to have been used was not his as he was even on self-exile and had stopped using a Nigerian line since June 2015.

He said the pieces of evidence were concocted as a part of a grand plot to implicate him by any means in the OPL 245 trial.

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