$1.06b Malabu oil block: EFCC Has Opposed Justice Mohammed Adoke’s bail bid
The former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN),
From Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor
Will former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke be granted bail from the Custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)?
Justice O. A Musa of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court will on Tuesday hear Adoke’s application for bail. The EFCC is opposed to the application.
The ex-minister is being investigated with other suspects, over the $1.09billion Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245) deal.
Adoke, on December 23, filed the bail application on account of ill-health.
He urged the court to grant him bail on self-recognizance having voluntarily returned to the country from, the United Arab Emirate(UAE) Dubai.
He frontloaded his medical records as exhibits to guide the court’s decision.
But the EFCC said mere allegations of ill-health will not be a sufficient justification for admitting him to bail.
It said Adoke had not exhibited any sign of ill-health that should warrant the EFCC to transfer him to a well-equipped government hospital.
The anti-graft agency said some of the exhibits tendered by Adoke were received on December 23, after the EFCC had obtained a remand warrant from the court.
Read Also: Adoke to present documents on $1.06b Malabu oil deal
The EFCC alleged that Adoke might jump bail and escape in addition to the likelihood of interference with witnesses the EFCC might wish to contact.
The EFCC on December 20 secured an order from an FCT High Court to keep Adoke in custody for 14 days, which will expire on January 2, 2020.
The ex-minister sought a declaration that his prosecution by the EFCC on account of his carrying out the lawful directives and the implementation of the approvals of the President while he served as the minister of the Government of the Federation is illegal, null and void and inconsistent with the intendment of Section 5(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.”
He asked the court to restrain the EFCC from further investigating him on the $1.06 billion Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245).
He also pleaded with the court, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), for bail on health grounds.
Ozekhome, in the Motion on Notice, made the following points:
“That the applicant was a former attorney-general of the Federation and minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 6th April, 2010 to 29th April, 2015.
“That he has his family and business resident and situate here in Nigeria.
“That the applicant had actually left Nigeria voluntarily before May, 2015, not because the 2nd Respondent wanted him, but to pursue a master’s degree (LL.M) in Public International Law, in the Netherlands.
“That the applicant returned voluntarily to Nigeria vide Emirates Airline, after his initial arrest by the Interpol/UAE authorities which later released him as shown in his attached ticket which he voluntarily purchased by himself, and has signed statement, instead of running from justice to other places.
“That the applicant has complicated health issues which necessitated his journey to Dubai, UAE, for treatment, from where he was illegally arrested and detained in the UAE/Dubai facilities.
“That the applicant is presumed innocent under section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, until proven guilty.
“That the charge against the applicant has not been served on the applicant till date, contrary to the order made by Hon. Justice D. Z. Senchi, on 25th October, 2019.
“That a letter written by the court the Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, dated 20th September, 2017, and addressed to the Acting Chairman of the Complainant/Respondent (EFCC), had also clearly exonerated the Applicant from any criminal liability in the Malabu Oil and Gas cases.
“That the applicant’s warrant of arrest upon which his arrest and detention in Dubai was anchored, had been set aside in a well- considered judgment delivered on the 25th October, 2019, by Hon. Justice D. Z. Senchi of the FCT High Court, Abuja, who had issued the earlier warrant of arrest in April, 2019.
“That the applicant has no previous criminal record against him.
“That the applicant will not flee from justice, or attempt to influence, interfere with or intimidate/witness, or the course of justice.
“That the applicant undertakes to attend trial on all days the charge comes up till final determination thereof.”
The written address of the EFCC’s four-man team is signed by Bala Sanga (a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Adamawa State, Aliyu Yusuf, Offem I. Uket and M.S. Abubakar.
The EFCC lawyers said: “The court in Ofolue v F. R. N. (Supra) held that an applicant must present a convincing medical report by an expert in the relevant field. And in addition, the applicant must show that the applicant or those holding him have no access to such medical facilities as are required in treating him.
”My Lord, we submit that the various illnesses listed in Exhibit 11 were diagnosed in 2018, and were appropriately treated.
“There is no evidence before the court to show the defendant/applicant has suffered a relapse from any of sicknesses again to entitle him to rely on ill-health as a ground for this application. Moreover, the cases cited on ill-health cannot avail him as exhibits 11 and 12 did not prove that the applicant is currently ill.
The anti-graft agency faulted Adoke for claiming to have returned to the country voluntarily on December 19, 2019.
The lawyers added: The EFCC said: “Finally, relevant paragraphs of our counter affidavit indicate that the defendant/Applicant was forced to return to Nigerian after his arrest and detention by INTERPOL in Dubai.
“So, it is not correct for the defendant/applicant to state that he voluntarily submitted himself for arrest by the police in paragraph 3.6 of his written address.
“Indeed, he was aware of the criminal charges filed against him before this Honourable court and the Federal High Court between 2016 and 2017, yet refused to return to Nigeria until he was arrested and detained in Dubai.
The EFCC said: “Concerning the gravity of the case my Lord, we have deposed to the fact that the Applicant is involved in not just the Malabo case but also the P&ID cases which involves a massive $9.6b financial implication against Nigeria. This is in addition to other matters like the Halliburton and CONTEC.
“We submit that the gravity of these matters and the resultant implication on Nigeria are serious and weighty enough for this Honourable Court to exercise its discretion against granting bail.”
”In conclusion, My Lord, it is our humble submission that the Defendants/ Applicants’ separate applications are unmeritorious and ought to be dismissed.
“We humbly urge your lordship to refuse same and order that the matter proceed to trial without delay in the spirit of section 19(2)(b) of the EFCC (establishment) Act, 2004 and section 397(3) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 as well as our readiness for a day-to-day trial. We are most grateful for the indulgence of the court.”
As at press time, it was gathered that there had been pressure on the Federal Government to admit Adoke to bail.
A top source said: “Some forces have been mounting pressure on those in government to admit Adoke to bail because it is very, very strange to put a former AGF on trial.
“Once you are an AGF and Minister of Justice, you are a custodian of sensitive security matters which he can never de-classified unless he is forced to under this circumstance.
“Those who know better are saying that since all Adoke is asking for his bail reprieve to stand trial, his rights should be protected.
“They are saying that Adoke’s trial might be a precedent for those who will leave office in 2023. And it appears some government officials are already buying the bail idea for Adoke.”