Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Malabu oil scandal: AGF Adoke and the great cover-ups

Published:

Attorney General Bello Adoke

Mr. Adoke peddles falsehood in desperate bid to retain credibility over the Malabu $1.1 billion oil deal

In what appears to be a desperate bid to cover his tracks in the murky $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal scandal, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, plans to deceive federal lawmakers empanelled to investigate the scandal, through a scheme of half truths, selective disclosure, and in a number of instances, bare-faced lies, sources and documents available to PREMIUM TIMES have revealed.

The House of Representatives Committee set up to investigate the scandal have invited 18 public officials, including Mr. Adoke, to explain their role in the scandal which saw the Federal Government transfer $1.1bn into accounts owned by Malabu Oil Services, after the money was put into a government account by two multinational oil giants, Shell and Eni.

The transfer of the money to Malabu accounts, operated by ex-convict and former petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, was based on the direct advice of Mr. Adoke and the Minister of State for finance, Yerima Ngama, in a deal secretly orchestrated a day before Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was to resume official duties.

Now that the deal has gone awry, and federal legislators are fuming, Mr. Adoke, apparently smelling a nasty dogfight, dispatched an official July 19 letter to the lawmakers twisting the whole facts of the case, and standing the truth of the Malabu deal on its head.

A keen review of Mr. Adoke’s letter reveal a disturbing pattern of distortion of truth, a most recent example being his press statement of May 27, in which the minister resorted to evident factual distortion as reported by PREMIUM TIMES, In that May 27 instance, as in this July example again, Mr. Adoke’s sole aim was self-preservation, and a frantic attempt to exonerate himself from any complicity in the deal.

Hiding information

A major contention in the anticipated probe by federal lawmakers is whether the Jonathan administration was aware of embedded layers of criminality in the Malabu deal. A tell-tale link to any such criminality will be whether federal authorities were aware of third party interests in Malabu’s claim to the OPL 245.

Mr. Adoke, PREMIUM TIMES investigations show, envisions therefore that the way to temper lawmakers anger is go for a fat, big, lie, and engage in a fuzzy rendition of the facts of the case.

“At all times material to the resolution of the dispute, the federal government was not aware of any subsisting third party interest in Malabu’s claim to OPL 245 and neither did any person or company apply to be joined in the negotiations as an interested party” Mr. Adoke stated in paragraph 13 of his statement to the House Committee, a statement which, as PREMIUM TIMES found out, was a blatant lie, and a design to mislead legislative investigators.

Based on official records available to PREMIUM TIMES, not only was Mr. Adoke directly aware of third party interests in Malabu, he was also aware of the dispute over the ownership of Malabu, and the alleged criminality carried out by the same people Mr. Adoke was dealing with.

A tissue of lies

When the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Mohammed Adoke, resumed work on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, he was handed a letter received on his behalf by his aides.

The letter, dated same day, and titled “Unauthorised alterations of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited Ownership Structure,” was signed by Abdullahi Haruna, a principal solicitor at a law firm, Onekutu, Haruna and Co.

In the letter, Mr. Adoke was clearly told that the people with whom he signed an agreement on April 29 were fraudsters who had manipulated and falsified company records with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

In the letter, Mr. Haruna briefed Mr. Adoke of the history of Malabu and the criminalities of Dan Etete, the man who represented Malabu in meetings with the Justice Minister.

“We humbly request that the Honourable Attorney General intervene in these negotiations and prevent the conclusion of the transaction on the basis of fraudulent misrepresentation,” Mr. Adoke was told.

Though Mr. Adoke had signed a tripartite agreement, on April 26, that would see the Federal Government pay Mr. Etete’s Malabu $1.1 billon, the money was yet to be paid.

In fact, the money was not paid into Malabu’s account until about three months after Mr. Adoke received the letter warning him of the fraudulent representations and criminalities of Malabu.

Prior to that, Mr. Adoke had met severally with representatives of Pecos Energy Limited and Mohammed Sani (Abacha), both of whom accused Mr. Etete of criminality and had gone to both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Federal High Court, and the CAC to accuse Mr. Etete of forgery.

“He could have stopped the payment. As Attorney General, he could have ordered an immediate investigation into the false representation and falsification by Etete. Adoke chose not to, for his own personal gains,” a source, present at some of the meetings, told PREMIUM TIMES.

We are aware of the fraud

Knee-deep in the scandal now, and still claiming ignorance of possible criminality, Mr. Adoke merely holds firm to his slippery poles. However, a federal agency [The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, which is responsible for company registrations in the country] on which one of Mr. Adoke’s aides seats on the board, as a board member says it is aware of the fraud that the Attorney General denies.

PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively revealed how a lawyer, Rasky Gbinigie, acting under the orders of Mr. Etete, allegedly fraudulently manipulated Malabu records at the CAC

In its own statement to the House Committee, the CAC said it was informed by the EFCC that “the affairs of the company (Malabu) were being investigated, and that the CAC had “decided to place the file on caveat.”

The Corporate Affairs Commission also confirmed that it received another petition from Mr. Sani in 2008 alleging the fraud in the Malabu registration papers. It again confirmed that it was aware that there was a suit at the Federal High Court on the falsification of Malabu papers. The suit was filed in 2010 by Mr. Sani.

The CAC said, in its statement signed by its Registrar General, Tijani Tumsah, that for this reasons, “it placed further restriction on the company’s (Malabu’s) file.”

A curious twist by the commission, however, was its statement to lawmakers that “the original incorporation documents of the company (Malabu) and some of the filings made immediately thereafter got missing in the commission around 1999/2000 and all efforts to trace the same proved abortive.”

Mr. Adoke was fully aware of the CAC’s actions on Malabu as he has a representative on the governing board of the commission.

Yet he told the lawmakers that the Federal Government was not aware of “third party interests.”

Even the EFCC is aware

In its own presentation to lawmakers, the EFCC, which had in 2007 written to CAC that it was investigating the fraud in Malabu, said it received a petition on behalf of Pecos and Mr. Sani in February 2012, and had carried out preliminary investigations.

In that interim finding, the commission stated that the Malabu registrations “show a suspicious variance strongly indicative of forgery of the documents submitted to the Corporate Affairs Commission.”

The EFCC’s official statement, secured exclusively by PREMIUM TIMES, also confirm its earlier in-house interim report on Malabu, which was submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan, and which established a criminal case of forgery against Mr. Etete over Malabu. PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported this aspect of the unfolding Malabu scandal in

The commission also confirmed the controversial money transfers to the Etete’s Malabu accounts as stated in our earlier reports.

The EFCC however refused to disclose its full investigations to the lawmakers.

“Our investigation into this case is not yet concluded and any position paper from the commission at this stage would be pre-judicial to our ongoing investigation,” the commission in a statement by its Executive Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, said.

Mr. Adoke, by virtue of his position, is also on the board of the EFCC.

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