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HEDA: Why we asked Osinbajo to intervene in Suraju’s trial

HEDA: Why we asked Osinbajo to intervene in Suraju’s trial
November 16
19:04 2021

HEDA Resource Centre says its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, only asked Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in his impending prosecution over charges of forgery because he wanted to save Nigeria from “international embarrassment”.

The renowned anti-corruption activist, who strongly denies all allegations, is due for arraignment at a federal high court in Abuja on November 23.

Suraju is to be charged with cyber stalking for allegedly circulating the audio of a phone interview said to have been stage-managed to implicate Mohammed Bello Adoke, a former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), in the OPL 245 saga.

He is also accused of circulating a forged email purportedly sent to one Bayo Osolake of JP Morgan, UK, by Adoke from the account of AA Properties, owned by Abubakar Aliyu — who was accused of distributing bribes in the transaction.

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TheCable reported that he had petitioned Osinbajo to seek his intervention in the trial.

In his letter to the VP dated October 12, 2021, Suraju detailed his experience during police investigation into the allegations, saying he went through “serious trauma, humiliation and intimidation” in the hands of the IGP monitoring team.

He wrote: “I will therefore request the following from your office:

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“A thorough investigation of officers of the IGP Monitoring Unit (ACP Ibrahim Musa and DSP Chinedu Onwuka) for their compromise and unprofessional conducts.

“Immediate halt to the unconstitutional and disgraceful criminal charges filed against me by officers of Ministry of Justice to safe (save) the country from further embarrassment.

“Direct the EFCC to conclude its investigation of the email and further prosecute all those connected with it or amend the existing charges (against Adoke) where appropriate.

“Direct the relevant government Ministry and or agency to commence the amendment of section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act in compliance with the ECOWAS Court.”

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In a letter dated November 12, 2021, the vice-president forwarded the petition to Abubakar Malami, the AGF, for “review and comments”.

A source in the VP’s office told TheCable that it was not a query as the AGF does not report to Osinbajo.

In his book, ‘Burden of Service’, Adoke accused Osinbajo of being part of a conspiracy to indict him by all means in the OPL 245 affair, but the vice-president has strongly denied the allegation.

‘WE ARE READY FOR TRIAL’

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In a statement issued on Tuesday, Sina Odugbemi, the programme manager of HEDA Resource Centre, accused TheCable and the ministry of justice of engaging in a “charade” over the reporting of the details of the letter.

Sujaru previously accused TheCable of publishing “fake news” when the newspaper reported that the police investigation had indicted him.

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“The attempt by the publication to create an impression of seeking the  intervention of the Vice President is unfortunate, pathetic and sad to say the least. For the records (record), HEDA and Mr. Suraju fervently look forward to this trial in court to defend ourselves against these spurious allegations and expose the evil being done to Nigeria by some vampires,” Odugbemi said.

“We shall put up a robust and courageous defence to the admiration and pride of all patriots and true friends of Nigeria, but to the shock and disgrace of all predators and enemies of Nigeria in and out of office who are sorely bent on bleeding the country to death.”

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Odugbemi said all that Suraju did was to “repeat statements made by the FRN’s lawyers on behalf of the President as Head of State. These statements will be presented to the court, along with other evidence that the FRN has submitted to the courts in Milan”.

An Italian court in Milan ruled in March 2021 that there was no corruption in the OPL 245 deal and subsequently discharged and acquitted Shell, Eni and others on trial.

The Italian appeal court has overturned the four-year jail sentence of Emeka Obi, a Nigerian, and Gianluca Di Nardo, an Italian, who had been convicted for their role as middlemen in the deal.

Fabio De Pasquale and Sergio Spadaro, the Italian prosecutors, are now facing investigation by the Italian ministry of justice over allegations of manipulating evidence to secure conviction by unlawful means.

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