Fresh moves by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to thwart the prosecution of suspects in the Malabu oil scam, including one of his predecessors, Mohammed Adoke have been uncovered.
The Malabu oil scandal involved the transfer of over $1 billion by Shell and ENI through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete.
From accounts controlled by Etete, about half of the money ($520 million) went to accounts of companies controlled by Aliyu Abubakar, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA oil.
Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect he fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration as well of officials of Shell and ENI.
The transaction was authorised in 2011 by ex-president Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers and the money was payment for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks.
The oil resources of the OPL 245 license have remained undeveloped since the controversies began.
One of those being prosecuted by the Nigerian government is Adoke.
He is facing trial over the alleged role he played in the “fraudulent” transfer of ownership of an oil bloc, OPL 245, regarded as one of the biggest in Africa.
Other defendants include Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, and four companies- Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.
Sources told SaharaReporters that different moves to frustrate the prosecution were planned by Malami, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (former Special Duties Minister and senior partner of Malami), and Adoke in the Maitama private office of AGF.
“The media was yesterday overwhelmed with the news of Nigerian government’s action against anti-corruption and human rights activist, Olanrewaju Suraju over the allegations of forgery by Muhammed Bello Adoke, ex-Attorney General of the Federation standing trial over complicity and bribery in the Malabu case.
“The speed of submission of the case file from the IGP office, dated 20th September 2021 and purported filing of action before a court in Abuja is more than telling. Most Nigerians don’t know there is a conspiracy that was arched in the Maitama private office of Malami between Malami, Turaki, and Adoke.
“Imagine, I was worried at the level of confidentiality exhibited during this meeting between the AGF and someone being prosecuted by his office on behalf of the government. Kabiru Tanimu was also spotted at Malami’s office last Friday night.
“This same Malami in the past attempted to thwart the government efforts at prosecuting the Malabu heist by writing a letter to Buhari, advising him to withdraw any action against suspects in the fraud,” one of the sources said.
A memo dated 27th September 2017 to Buhari by Malami read, “There is nothing to show that the parties as constituted were at all times working together and having ‘meeting of the mind’ to wit to forge CAC documents and use some for the purpose of divesting the shares of the complainants and thereafter enter into a settlement agreement with FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria) and other parties to take delivery of the proceeds of sale OPL 245.
“There is also nothing in the proof of evidence to support the charge of money laundering and it is therefore impossible for the prosecution to prove the elements which include illicit funds, transfer for such through various channels to re-introduce same again into the regular financial system as legitimate funds in financial institutions, etc.
“Without the express proof of these elements, the count may not be sustained on the premise of the attached proof of evidence.”
SaharaReporters gathered that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), then led by Ibrahim Magu countered Malami in a memo to the President and he was overruled.
“This was at a time trial was already sustained in Milan and United Kingdom against principal actors in the controversial deal. What was most surprising was the appearance of an internal memo between the AGF and the President in court through Adoke’s lawyer. That was sufficient to have led to the sacking of Malami but Buhari was too weak,” another source told SaharaReporters.
“On the allegations of forgery by Adoke, the Inspector General ordinarily had allowed professional investigation by the Interpol and cybercrime unit, see the letters by the units into the matter until Malami saw an opportunity to deal with Suraju and HEDA, in addition to sabotaging the Malabu cases.
“Both Suraju and HEDA have consistently campaigned against the corruption of Malami and his abuses of office. HEDA even called for Malami’s removal from office. Malami intervened with the Police IGP for Adoke and investigations by the Interpol and DIG FCID were aborted for the notorious IGP monitoring unit to conclude the hatchet job.
“He personally requested for a hurriedly concocted report to be submitted to his office, while Adoke interacted with some media executives to keep the stages in the media.”
Another source in the Ministry of Justice expressed surprise at the speed they were directed to prepare and file the charges against Suraju.
“We could not even see any evidence to sustain charges in the submitted file but the AGF wanted it prepared and filed soonest. That file has received the fastest treatment in the history of our ministry under Malami.
“With these charges, it is certain the actions of Nigerian Government against JP Morgan in London, where the email under investigation, is threatened by Malami’s action. The Italian court which indicted Adoke of receiving bribes in the deal must also be monitoring developments,” the source said.