A former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Bello Adoke, has petitioned the Italian Ministry of Justice against two public prosecutors for their alleged forgery and other forms of “professional misconduct” in their handling of the Malabu case in Milan.
Mr Adoke, in his complaint letter dated July 1, 2021, accused the duo of Fabio De Pasquale and Sergio Spadaro, who are public prosecutors in the criminal prosecution of ENI/Shell and others on allegations of corruption and money laundering, of threatening his life.
Two oil giants, Eni and Shell, were accused of paying bribes to Nigerian officials in respect of the OPL 245 oil block.
However, the Milanese trial court of had acquitted Eni and Shell in March 2021.
In the letter of complaint issued by Femi Oboro of Gromyko Amedu Solicitors on behalf of Mr Adoke, the ex-Nigerian official said the two public prosecutors allegedly forged documents with an intent “to rope him into the matter even when he was not a defendant in the suit”.
Mr Adoke has similarly sent a petition to the Nigerian police accusing a Nigerian anti-corruption activist, Lanre Suraju, who is the chairman of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), of forgery.
He also claimed in his petition that he suspected Mr Suraju of being the one behind the circulation of a “fake” tape of an interview he purportedly granted an Italian journalist admitting that the Malabu transaction was a scam.
Meanwhile, Mr Suraju has denied the allegations, describing his interrogation by the police over the matter as “a case of corruption fighting back”.
The ex-AGF, who levelled similar allegations against Fabio De Pasquale and Sergio Spadaro, urged the Italian authorities to have “the conduct of these prosecutors investigated and that they be held accountable for their professional misconduct.”
His petition addressed to the Italian Ministry of Justice was copied to the General Prosecution Office at the Italian Supreme Court and the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Milan.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained the email address of Mr Pasquale on Friday, but he has yet to respond to our reporter’s request for his comment on the petition.
‘Procurement of forged documents/evidence’
The former AGF lamented that the Italian public prosecutors engaged in deliberate “falsehood” by withholding material evidence from the court and guiding it to arrive at a predetermined outcome.
“It should be noted that the unethical conducts of the prosecutors were not isolated acts, but a carefully orchestrated plan by the public prosecutors acting in concert with other interested parties to negatively influence the Court to make adverse findings against our client with a view to influencing the ongoing criminal trial in Nigeria,” his petition stated.
‘Prosecutors involved in misconducts’ – Adoke
It added that despite the fact that Mr Adoke was not on trial at the Milanese court, “the Italian prosecutors went to unimaginable length to illegally procure forged evidence, engaged in deliberate suppression of exculpating evidence and continuously misled the court with a view to painting him with the tar of corruption.”
“This has caused our client his reputation globally, destroyed his source of livelihood and damaged his family life.
“Our client will rely on the entire records of the proceeding before the Milanese Court which x-rays the totality of the Public Prosecutors unethical and professional misconducts called into question in paragraphs 6 – 8 above.
“It is, therefore, our client’s prayer that the conduct of these Prosecutors be investigated and that they be held accountable for their professional misconduct,” the petition added.
It further stated that both the “phoney” telephone interview recording and the email of June 21, 2011, purported to have been granted by Mr Adoke were forged with the unlawful intent to interfere with the course of justice/law or subverting the wheel of justice at the criminal trial at the Court of Milan in connection with the OPL 245 settlement agreement 0f 2011, and by extension, the criminal proceedings pending in Nigeria.
“The injured party in the criminal trial was stated to be the Federal Republic of Nigeria. During the criminal trial before the Court of Milan, the Public Prosecutor unlawfully engaged in acts of forgery of documents or evidence in aid of the prosecution’s case with several allegations of fact made against our client (Mr Adoke) which were unsubstantiated at the trial,” the petition added.
‘Cleared of allegations,’ Adoke says
In the letter titled, ‘Re: Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN Complaint of Acts of Forgery and Professional Misconduct Against Fabio De Pasquale and Sergio Spadaro, Public Prosecutors Before the Court of Milan,’ Mr Adoke referenced a subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which cleared him of any collusion in the alleged Malabu fraud.
“The legality of the actions of our client in respect of the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement of 2011 has been confirmed by a valid and subsisting judgment of Honourable Justice B.F.M Nyako of the Federal High Court Abuja dated 07 April 2018 in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/446/2017 between Mohammed Bello Adoke vs Attorney General of the Federation to the effect that, our client was only carrying out the lawful directives/approvals of the President and cannot be held personally liable.
“The court affirmed that our client’s roles in the implementation of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement of 2011 were based on the lawful directives/approvals of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the exercise of his powers under Sections 5 and 148 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria 1999.
“The Public Prosecutors (Dr Sergio Spadaro) sought to mislead the Milanese court with his closing remarks by deliberately concealing the existence and effect of the judgment of the Federal High Court referred to above from the Milanese court.”
The Malabu scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by Shell and ENI through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Dan Etete.
From accounts controlled by Mr Etete, about half 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, under whom Mr Adoke served, as well as officials of Shell and ENI.
The transaction was authorised in 2011 by Mr 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.
Eni initiated international arbitration proceedings against Nigeria in September, alleging the government has breached its obligations by refusing to let the firm develop the license, which has now expired this May.
In March, PREMIUM TIMES reported how an Italian court declared Shell, Eni and their managers acquitted in the Malabu scandal.
They were all acquitted by the court in a trial that saw officials of the oil giants battle to prove their innocence. Several former executives of the companies were also cleared of wrongdoing, including Malcolm Brinded and Paolo Scaroni.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...