Sunday, 9 March 2014
Adoke Not fit For Public Office By Dotun Oloko
I read with interest the article, “Anti-Corruption Network Says AGF Mohammed Bello Adoke Not Fit For Public Office or SAN, And Has Frustrated Anti-Corruption War”, published in Sahara Reporters on 8 July 2013. I was shocked by the catalogue of allegations levelled against Adoke and in particular the charge of gross abuse of the powers of nolle prosequi. I have first-hand experience of how Adoke has been frustrating efforts to prosecute corruption cases and therefore feel compelled to put this in the public domain.
I agree with the defendant’s assertion that Adoke “is not a fit and proper person to occupy that office or any position of authority or responsibility in a decent society” and have set out my reasons below.
By way of a brief background, I have been involved in multi-jurisdictional efforts to bring those involved in the unlawful sale of OPL 245 to account in the US, UK, Italy and Nigeria. Our efforts have of necessity covered multiple jurisdictions because the key entities involved in the OPL 245 scandal are Eni, an Italian multinational oil corporation with listings in Italy and the US; Shell, a multinational oil corporation also listed in the US; JP Morgan an international bank listed in the UK; Malabu a company registered in Nigeria and represented by Dan Etete and; the Federal Republic of Nigeria (“FGN”) represented by Attorney General Adoke. The campaign for a full investigation of the OPL 245 deal is supported by several NGOs including, Global Witness and the Corner House in the UK and Re:Common in Italy. From the evidence available to us, Adoke was the key FGN official driving the unlawful deal and as such a memorandum on the role Adoke played in the deal was sent to the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron as part of a petition asking for a full investigation into the allegations we have made concerning the deal. The memorandum was of necessity detailed and lengthy but for the sake of this article I will only cite particular instances in which Adoke can be shown to have made false statements.
EVIDENCE OF FALSE STATEMENTS MADE BY ADOKE
1. In July 2012, Adoke in his testimony to the House of Representatives investigation in respect of OPL 245, stated that the FGN acted as an “obligor” between Shell/Eni and Malabu.1 However, in an earlier letter dated 16 July 2011 and sent to the legal advisers of Energy Venture Partners (“EVP”, a company that was suing Malabu in a UK court for unpaid fees in relation to services allegedly rendered in the sale of OPL 245), Adoke stated that, “The FGN holds funds with J. P. Morgan Chase Bank N. A., under a Depository Agreement dated 20 May 2011. Malabu is not a party to the Agreement, nor is it party to any other agreement with the FGN in relation to the funds, nor does it have any interest in those funds.” It is therefore self-evident that either the statement made to the House of Representatives must be false or the one made to EVP’s legal advisers must be false.
1 “Comprehensive Position Paper by Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, CFR, Hon. Attorney general of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee Investigative Hearing in Respect of “The Transaction involving the Federal Government and Shell/Agip companies, and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, in respect of oil bloc OPL 245”, 19 July 2012.
2. Adoke’s statement that the FGN acted as “obligor” between Shell/Eni and Malabu also runs contrary to the claim by Shell/Eni who have denied having prior knowledge that their payment was destined for Malabu.2 It is a matter of concern that Adoke has not seen fit to challenge the statement by Shell/Eni.
3. The statement of defence against the claim brought by Adoke makes reference in section 17 to a letter dated 20th May 2013 from Adoke to Global Witness. This letter from Adoke was in response to a letter dated 1st May 2013, which was sent to the Minister of Finance by Global Witness, Corner House, Re:Common and myself. The defence have already raised the pertinent point that in his letter, Adoke sought to rely on a report which the investigating committee had not yet submitted to the House. I can confirm that we wrote to Adoke on 17th June 2013, asking amongst other things for a copy of the report that he had referred to, but we are yet to receive his response or a copy of the report. Notwithstanding the fact that the Chief Law Officer of Nigeria sought to rely on a report yet to be submitted to the House, Adoke can also be shown to have made false statements in other respects in his letter.
In his letter of 20th May 2013, Adoke advised that, “Nigeria AGIP/Shell had transferred the sum of $1,092,040,000 to J. P. Morgan under a depository agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and J. P. Morgan pursuant to Block 245 Resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011. Under the said agreement, the sum of $1,092,040,000 was to be paid to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited (Malabu) by J. P. Morgan on the instructions of the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
However, I have copies of these agreements and can confirm that they do not contain any express provision for monies paid by Shell and Eni to be paid to Malabu as falsely stated by Adoke. Furthermore, as previously advised Shell and Eni who were counter-parties to the Resolution agreement have denied any knowledge that the funds they paid to the FGN were destined for Malabu. J. P. Morgan, a counter-party to the Depository agreement has also averred that “no funds are held in the depository account to the order of any party save for the FGN”.
34. The false claim by Adoke in his May 2013 letter, that the agreements cited above provided for Malabu to receive money also runs contrary to the earlier claim by Adoke in his July 2011 to EVP’s legal advisers, that Malabu had no “interest” in the funds.
EVIDENCE THAT ADOKE IS FRUSTRATING ANTI-CORRUPTION EFFORTS
I move now to the matter of Adoke frustrating efforts to prosecute corruption. I can advise that in March 2013, the Corner House and I visited the EFCC in Abuja to request that they take action with regard to the OPL 245 funds still in the UK. We were advised then that they would require a response from Adoke before they could respond to our request. We were also aware that a similar request made by the UK Proceeds of Corruption Unit (POCU) met with a similar response from the EFCC. It is a matter of extreme concern that, Adoke who is one of those implicated in the illegal
transfer is the very person whose consent would appear to be required for a full and proper investigation into the allegations. It is also a matter of extreme concern, that under these circumstances, Adoke did not see fit to recuse himself from the decision to investigate our allegations.
Nigerians should be concerned that a New York Supreme court ruling on a claim for unpaid fees in relation to services allegedly rendered in the sale of OPL 245 brought by another claimant, International Legal Consulting (“ILC), established that all the relevant parties including the FGN and Shell/Eni were aware that the monies paid by the consortium was to be transferred directly to Malabu with the FGN acting as the “proverbial straw man”.
I can also confirm that this is a view shared by the different government agencies in the multiple jurisdictions that we have had cause to relate with on this matter. The damage that is being done to the international reputation of Nigeria and the Jonathan administration as a result of the role that Adoke has played in the OPL 245 scandal should be a matter of extreme concern and deep regret to President Jonathan and I would urge him to act promptly and remove Adoke as Attorney-General, because I would submit that for the reasons highlighted above, Adoke is not a fit and proper person to hold the office of Attorney-General in a country that purports to recognise the rule of law.
2 “Pressure on Shell/Eni over Nigeria deal, 11 November 2012, FT, available at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a170f202-2be9-11e2-a91d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz...
3 Affidavit of Iain Dugald Roxborough, solicitor for J.P. Morgan dated 15 July 20114 “Matter of International Legal Consulting Ltd. v Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd”, Justia available at http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2012/2012-ny-slip-op-50546-u.html
4. It should be noted that a straw man is a term commonly used to describe a third party who is used as a cover to conceal the identity of the actual party in accomplishing a shady deal or something not legally permitted.