The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, with a request to compel former justice minister, Mohammed Adoke, to attend his ongoing trial for alleged fraud.
Mr. Adoke and a former minister of petroleum, Dan Etete, and other defendants are currently facing trial for alleged diversion of $1.1 billion during a controversial transfer of a rich Nigerian oil block, OPL 245 to Malabu, a company linked to Mr. Etete.
The counsel representing the EFCC, Johnson Ojogbane, made the application during Monday’s hearing before justice John Tsoho.
The judge however said he could not grant the request because other parties to the matter were not in court, and had not been served with the notice of summons for Mr. Ojogbane’s motion.
Subsequently, the EFCC’s lawyer requested a long adjournment to allow his client sufficient time to serve the necessary notice of summons to all the defendants. The case was adjourned till June 13.
The $1.1 billion 2011 deal
After several political and judicial intrigues that ensured OPL 245 changed hands several times between Malabu, Shell, and the Nigerian government, the block oil was again given back to Malabu in 2010 on the prompting of Mr. Adoke.
Persons close to former President Goodluck Jonathan told PREMIUM TIMES the former president took the decision because of his closeness to Mr. Etete who had helped him during his tenure as petroleum minister and because of the perception among persons from the oil producing Niger Delta that OPL 245 was one of the few oil blocks awarded to someone from the region.
By 2010, Mr. Etete had schemed out other owners of Malabu including by fraudulently altering Corporate Affairs Corporation, CAC, documents, investigations revealed.
The CAC recently said its official in charge of the Malabu documents was “brutally murdered”.
Despite Mr. Jonathan’s directive that Malabu be given OPL 245, the company really did not exist and had no staff or technical competence to manage the block. Based on advice from desperate businessmen including an Israeli, Ednan Agaev, Mr. Etete decided to cash in on the block.
Through various middlemen, the former minister approached oil giants, Shell and ENI, to buy the block. Knowing Mr. Etete’s history including the fact that he had been convicted in France for money laundering, the oil firms would not do a direct deal.
For the transaction to continue, a legally recognised mediator would have to be found.
That mediator turned out to be the Nigerian government, represented by Mr. Adoke.
The agreements that were sealed led to Shell and ENI paying the $1.1 billion into a Nigerian government account in JP Morgan Chase in London. The money was to then be transferred to Malabu accounts controlled by Mr. Etete.
Although Shell and ENI have repeatedly claimed they did not know the money was going to end up with Malabu, investigations in Nigeria and Italy as well as leaked documents revealed that claim to be false.
Mr. Adoke himself would later admit that he, on behalf of the federal government, only acted as a mediator for two willing parties – Malabu and the oil majors. Mr. Adoke was, however, aware of the various fraudulent manipulations of Malabu by Mr. Etete when he authorised the transaction, multiple sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.
Transfers to fraudulent firms
Immediately Mr. Etete received the money, curious transfers began. PREMIUM TIMES investigations, now confirmed by the EFCC, reveal that shady companies linked to Abubakar Aliyu received about $479 million dollars from Mr. Etete. Our investigations later showed that most of the companies were non-existent and used fake addresses in their registration documents.
The companies – Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Dev. Co. Ltd, A-Group Construction Ltd, and Megatech Engineering Ltd – were all charged in the suit filed by the EFCC.
While Mr. Etete later admitted that only $250 million of the money paid into his account was his, Mr. Aliyu is believed to have acted as a front for officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration including Mr. Adoke.