The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained Mohammed Bello Adoke, a former attorney general and minister of justice, over the Malabu Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245.
Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesperson, confirmed this in a statement issued on Thursday.
Adoke, who had been on a self-imposed exile since 2015, returned to Nigeria aboard an Emirates Airlines Flight 785 on Thursday at about 3:40pm, and was immediately whisked away by security operatives to the Abuja office of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).
After a period of questioning at Interpol’s office, the EFCC took custody of the former AGF and moved him to its office in the nation’s capital.
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Adoke is facing charges bordering on alleged abuse of office and money laundering with respect to the granting of the OPL 245 to Shell and ENI filed against him and four others by the EFCC on behalf of the Nigerian Government.
According to the EFCC statement, Adoke has pending criminal charge of “alleged abuse of office and money laundering” regarding the oil deal.
The statement read: “It would be recalled that the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked the OPL 245, which the late General Sani Abacha granted Dan Etete, his then Petroleum Minister, and reassigned it to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company,” it said.
“Etete’s Malabu Oil and Gas, however, reclaimed the oil block in 2006 through the court. While Shell challenged the decision, a ‘fraudulent settlement and resolution’ was consummated under President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, with Shell and ENI buying the oil block from Malabu in the sum of $1.1billion.
“Investigations by the EFCC into the deal revealed crimes that border on conspiracy, forgery of bank documents, bribery, corruption and money laundering to the tune of over $1.2 billion against Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep (SNUD), Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) and their officials, culminating in criminal charges against Adoke, Etete and others, which are pending at both the FCT High Court and the Federal High Court, Abuja.”
The EFCC added that Adoke’s return to Nigeria “clears the way for him to answer to the charges against him”.
Adoke was initially arrested by Interpol on 11 November in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, based on a warrant issued by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in April. The warrant was issued after the EFCC filed an application seeking the extradition of the former AGF over the controversial OPL 245 Malabu deal executed by the Federal Government in 2011.
But the order was vacated by the same court in October. However, the EFCC has refused to transmit the vacating order to the international police organisation.
Following the inability to resolve all arising legal matters after a five-week standoff between Adoke and the EFCC, the ex-AGF has decided to return back to the country.
The ex-AGF, who is said to have purchased the Dubai-Abuja ticket on Monday, departed the Arab country on Thursday at 8am local time (11am Nigerian time).
In a bid to recuse itself of any involvement in the proceedings, the Dubai Police had mandated Adoke to sign an undertaking stating that he was voluntarily returning back to Nigeria and not doing so under duress.
“I would go to NIGERIA authorities to solve my problem, and without any stress or pressure from Dubai Police or anyone,” read the undertaking signed by Adoke.
The ex-AGF, who had been on self-exile after he left office in 2015, has always his innocence in the case levelled against him by the EFCC.
Speaking after releasing his new book entitled: “Burden Of Service: Reminiscences of Nigeria’s former Attorney-General”, Adoke said he was prepared to return to the country after attending to his health.
Mike Ozekhome, the ex-AGF’s lawyer, has insisted that his client “has not done anything wrong”, insisting that he is innocent of the allegations levelled against him by the EFCC.