The Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that a former Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, cannot be held personally liable for his role in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil scandal.
In a judgement delivered by Justice Binta Nyako on Friday, the court agreed with the submissions of Mr Adoke that his involvement in the controversial deal which resulted in the sale of Nigeria’s oil well, OPL 245, was in compliance with his constitutional duties.
In a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in December 2016, Mr Adoke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, and other defendants were accused of fraudulent diversion of $1.1 billion in the controversial transaction.
In a reaction to that charge, however, Mr Adoke sued the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, asking the court to declare his trial for the said transaction illegal.
Mr Adoke requested the court to determine whether by virtue of sections 5(1), 147(1), 148(1) and 150(1) of the 1999 Constitution a serving minister can perform the “executive power of federation vested on the president as directed by the president.”
Section 5(1) of the Constitution deals with the executive power of the president and how such powers can be exercise or delegated.
Section 147(1) and 148(1) outlines the duties and responsibilities of ministers and how those responsibilities are exercised in accordance with the wishes of the president while Section 150 (1) specifically deals with the responsibilities of the AGF.
Mr Adoke submitted that his entire involvement in the OPL 245 oil deal was “in full compliance to lawful directives given to him,” by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He prayed the court to declare that he cannot be held personally liable for actions emanating from his obedience to lawful directives made by the president.
Mrs Nyako agreed with the submissions of the applicant that his involvement in the deal were in execution of his constitutional directives a serving minister.
“The executive powers of the president are exercisable by his ministers. The plaintiff cannot be held personally liable for carrying out the lawful directives of the president,” the judge ruled.
Mrs Nyako however declined consent to the part of the motion which sought a declaration of the court that the ongoing trial by Mr Adoke was illegal.
According to the judge, the prosecution, the EFCC is not a party to the suit, so the court would refrain from making any pronouncements regarding the commission.