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Police quiz Suraju over Adoke’s petition on ‘forged’ e-mail, phone tape

Police quiz Suraju over Adoke’s petition on ‘forged’ e-mail, phone tape
April 16
08:42 2021

Olanrewaju Suraju, chairman of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), has been quizzed by the police in Abuja over allegations that an e-mail attributed to Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation, was forged.

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TheCable also understands that the circulation of a taped phone conversation in 2017 purporting to be a call between an Italian journalist and Adoke over the OPL 245 affair has also been traced to Suraju.

In it, a man said to be Adoke said he knew the OPL 245 transaction was a “presidential scam” and made seemingly inappropriate overtures to the female journalist.

However, Adoke said the phone call was stage-managed to implicate him in the Italian trial of Shell and ENI over allegations of corruption in the purchase of OPL 245 from Malabu Oil & Gas.

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He said he did not speak with the journalist and that he did not even have a Nigerian line — said to have been used for the call — at the time as he was on self-exile and was aware the security agencies were after him.

The prosecutors eventually failed to present the tape in court after Adoke’s rebuttal.

The OPL 245 case has now been dismissed by the court, giving the oil companies and their executives an all-clear in the allegations of corruption.

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Suraju had been invited by the police after Adoke petitioned Mohammed Adamu, former inspector-general of police, alleging falsification of evidence in the OPL 245 case in Milan.

‘CREATING A FALSE LINK’

In February, Adoke raised alarm that the e-mail tendered by prosecutors against him in the Milan court was forged.

He said the document was meant to create a false link between him and Aliyu Abubakar, one of those who stood trial over OPL 245 deal.

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Suraju, whose organisation and its partners worked closely with the Italian prosecutors, was suspected to have circulated the suspicious e-mail.

The HEDA boss was detained on Wednesday by the IGP monitoring unit in Abuja.

This development comes weeks after an Italian court acquitted Shell and Eni of corruption charges in the $1.1 billion OPL 245 deal.

On Thursday, Suraju was released after meeting bail conditions.

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Speaking with Premium Times after his release, Suraju described the probe as “corruption fighting back”.

He said neither Adoke nor Kanu Agabi, his lawyer, showed up for interrogation, adding that “an unknown lawyer” was sent to represent them.

“This is a case of corruption fighting back, with Mr Adoke using the police to harass, not just the civil society, but at the same time using illegal means to accuse myself and my organisation of forging a document that was admitted in court as evidence in Milan, of which we had no previous connection and business with,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected for an error of fact.

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