Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation, has denied claims that he collected $2.2 million bribe in the OPL 245 deal between Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and two multinational oil companies, Shell and ENI.
Global Witness, an international anti-corruption organisation, had, in a recent press statement, named Adoke as a recipient of bribe in the controversial $1.3bn deal in 2011 that has now led to the filing of criminal proceedings against Shell and ENI in an Italian court.
A complaint filed in 2013 by Global Witness and Nigerian anti-corruption campaigner, Dotun Oloko, is believed to have led to the investigation by a Milan prosecutor.
In a letter to Global Witness dated December 23, 2017 and seen by TheCable, Femi Oboro of Gromyko Amedu Solicitors, London, said Adoke, who is currently on self-exile, found the claim “offensive”.
He said the bank transaction for which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a case against Adoke was done in 2013 — two years after the Malabu agreement was consummated.
He wrote: “Our client vigorously denies that he received a bribe of $2.2 million or any other sum on account of the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement and states that he has had cause to call attention of the public to the reckless and reprehensible attempt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to link his Mortgage repayment to the Unity Bank of Nigeria to the alleged bribe of $2.2 Million, when the loan documentation in respect of the mortgage is available for any objective person to apprise himself of the transaction and arrive at an informed conclusion.
“Our client reiterates that he had applied for a mortgage loan in the sum of N300,000,000 (three hundred million Naira only) from Unity Bank of Nigeria to purchase a property from Aliyu Abubakar, a property developer in Abuja. The bank paid the loan sum directly to the developer. Our client was also required to source and pay the balance of N 200,000,000 (two hundred million Naira only) as the sale price was fixed as N 500,000,000 (five hundred million Naira only).
“When however, our client could not meet up with his repayment obligations to the bank as well as complete the payment of the balance of N200,000, 000 Million to the developer, the developer opted to repossess the property. Our client had no option than to consent to the proposal and asked that the sum of N300,000,000 Million earlier paid to him (developer) by Unity Bank of Nigeria be refunded directly to the Bank.
“The developer accordingly paid the money directly to the bank to offset the mortgage loan and the certificate of occupancy (title documents) in respect of the property was released by the bank to the developer. The EFCC is aware of this transaction and the fact that the developer subsequently sold the property to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“It will be recalled that OPL 245 Resolution Agreements were executed in 2011 and the mortgage loan transaction with Unity Bank of Nigeria took place two years later in 2013. The question therefore is why would our client wait for about two years to collect bribe over a transaction that was completed in 2011?”
Adoke’s solicitors said the EFCC had no case against the former attorney-general.
“It is therefore not true that our client received ‘$2.2m from the proceeds of the OPL 245 deal’ as alleged in the publication made and it would be clear to any discerning mind that has had the opportunity of reviewing the transaction that the EFCC only filed those spurious money-laundering charges in furtherance of its pre-conceived plan to tarnish our client’s reputation with the tar of corruption by linking a legitimate mortgage transaction that is well documented with a preposterous charge of collecting a bribe of $2.2 Million from the OPL 245 deal resolution. If that were not the case, the EFCC would have since taken steps to forfeit the mortgaged property as proceeds of crime,” Oboro wrote.
“Our client maintains that to the best of his knowledge, information and belief, there was nothing illegal or shady about the resolution of the dispute over the ownership and operation of the OPL 245 and that all the State actors that implemented the settlement agreement including his humble self, acted in the national interest. The officials involved in the resolution had requisite Presidential Approvals to negotiate the settlement agreement, execute the OPL 245 resolution agreements and all other ancillary steps required to ensure that the transaction was duly consummated.
“Our client’s involvement in the implementation of the settlement agreement in his capacity as Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice was to superintend over the process to ensure that the implementation was holistic by ensuring that:
- the requisite Presidential Approvals were duly sought and obtained;
- all relevant MDAs such as the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Finance, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC were involved in the resolution and final implementation of the settlement;
- the relevant Agreements such as OPL 245 Resolution and Re-Allocation Agreements were duly executed by line Ministers and Departments;
- the signature bonus of $210 Million was duly paid to the Federal Government of Nigeria as required by law, and
- disbursements from the escrow account were jointly approved by the Federal Government and SNUD.
“Our client has accordingly taken out an originating summons before the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking reliefs and declarations which include among others ascertaining the extent of the powers of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under sections 5, 147, 148 and 150 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, and whether a Minister of the Government of the Federation can be held personally liable for carrying out the lawful directives/approvals of the President.
“In view of the foregoing, we wish to advise Global Witness to be circumspect in their reportage and to be mindful of the effect of these deliberate falsehoods and sweeping allegations on the reputation of our client especially as the matter is currently awaiting judicial determination and sub-judice.”