A former Nigerian attorney general and minister of justice, Mohammed Adoke, has called on the Nigerian government to debrief Lucio Lucia, its lawyer in the Malabu OPL245 trial holding in Milan, Italy.
In a statement he issued Thursday, the former attorney general said Mr Lucia’s conduct was “embarrassing” and reeks of “deliberate falsehood” and “dishonesty.”
Mr Adoke was reacting to Nigeria’s closing statement at the Italian court, delivered by Mr Lucia, that he (Adoke) and other officials compromised Nigeria’s interest in their handling of the Malabu scandal.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Lucia, representing Nigeria at the Milan trial of the oil giants (Shell and ENI) and other individuals for the alleged fraudulent acquisition of the oil licence OPL245, made this submission as Nigeria made its concluding arguments on Wednesday.
The lawyer reaffirmed the Nigerian government’s claims against Mr Adoke, ex-petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and former President Goodluck Jonathan in the alleged scam.
The lawyer informed the court of “criminal prosecution in Nigeria for these acts against the corrupt, first and foremost the Attorney-General Mohammed Adoke Bello, who was accused of receiving illegal compensation in exchange for licensing the oil companies, and thus arrested and extradited from Dubai for the corruption related to OPL 245”.
On the cash transfers to the account of Mr Adoke, the lawyer argued that “Adoke Bello buys a property in Abuja from a company of Abubakar at a much lower price than the real one ($4.5 million); and he doesn’t even pay this price. Adoke Bello receives cash payments into his current account of money from Bureau de Change for approximately $2.2 million from 15.2.2012 to 17.10.2013.”
Speaking on alleged constitutional breach of trust and oath of office by officials of the government, the lawyer argued that Mr Adoke and others misused the privilege they had as government officials.
“But what did Adoke Bello do in return for his payments? The government that will stipulate RA 2011 starts by confirming the allocation to Malabu and therefore to Etete of 100% of all concession rights for OPL 245.
“The main actors are President GLJ (Goodluck Jonathan), Oil Minister Diezani and AG Adoke Bello, the latter two will sign the 2011 RA together with the Minister of Finance. Adoke Bello, who, in fact, will play a decisive role at the negotiating table, above all in allowing Eni/Shell to have all the contractual clauses, accepted by the IOCs – clauses unilaterally prepared by them – overcoming any objection by NNPC and DPR, the technical bodies of the Ministry of Oil.”
The lawyer also explained that Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) emails make it very clear that Shell and Eni are familiar with the relationship between Mr Etete and the President, Mr Jonathan, as well as the Minister and the AG, Mr Adoke.
But in his statement on Thursday, Mr Adoke said the evidence supplied by Mr Lucia were false.
“It will be recalled that on 6th July 2020, I drew the attention of the public through my Solicitor, Mr Femi Oboro, to the deliberate and malicious falsehoods contained in the statements made by the Milan Prosecutor in the ongoing proceedings against Shell and Eni and other named individuals before the Milan Court in Italy over the OPL 245 transaction,” Mr Adoke began in the statement he personally signed.
“Although I am not a party to the proceedings, I have followed with keen interest to ensure that no adverse findings of criminal misconduct are made against my person.
“However, in his submission before the Court on the 9th of September, 2020, Mr. Lucio Lucia, while representing the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria as the injured party entitled to civil compensation, had allegedly ‘reaffirmed the indictment of Mr. Adoke and others in the heist’ in connection with the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement.”
The former attorney general said that his official role as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in the implementation of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement has been the subject of judicial pronouncement by the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice BFN Nyako.
He noted that the court stated amongst other things that: “1. The involvement of the Plaintiff Mr Adoke in the negotiations leading to the implementation of a Settlement Agreement dated 30th November 2006 between Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and the Federal Government of Nigeria and the eventual execution of Block 245 Malabu Resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers;
“2. The involvement of the Plaintiff in the negotiation and eventual execution of the Block 245 SNUD resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Shell Nigerian Ultra Deep and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers, and;
“3. The Plaintiff cannot be held personally liable for carrying out the lawful/approvals of the President while he served as a Minister of the Government of the Federation.”
Apart from the judicial pronouncement, he said, the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements have been the subject of review by two cabinet ministers in the present administration.
“First, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, in his capacity as the Attorney-General of the Federation, issued a legal opinion to the Ag. Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, dated 20th September 2017, wherein he stated that he had reviewed the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements and was unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing on my part.
“Secondly, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his capacity as the Hon. Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, also reviewed the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements and in his letter to the Chief of Staff to the President, dated 13th December 2017, came to the reasoned conclusion that the agreements were in the national interest.
“In the light of the above, it is clear that Mr. Lucio Lucia cannot assert on behalf of the same Federal Government of Nigeria a position that is contrary to the unassailable declarations in the subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and the views already expressed by the sitting Attorney-General of the Federation and the former Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.”
Mr. Adoke argued further that Mr Lucia also lied to the court that he was extradited from Dubai for corruption related to OPL 245, knowing fully that nothing of sort ever happened.
He said: “The records are there with INTERPOL that I voluntarily decided to return to Nigeria. The Nigerian Government could not proceed with extradition processes against me because the International Warrant of Arrest they wanted to use against me had been vacated by the same Nigerian court that granted it.
“Mr. Lucio Lucia, with defamatory audacity, also carelessly reconstructed the evidence on my Mortgage transaction with Unity Bank to suit his narrative. This is a subject of criminal proceedings in Nigeria and, for now, I will not be able to comment against the twisting and manipulation of the facts of the failed mortgage transaction because it will be subjudicial.”
The former minister noted that although he is not adverse to the Nigerian government’s claims before the Milan Court, but he is concerned that Mr. Lucio Lucia has been allowed to present to the Court deliberate false statements against him in support of the Federal Government’s case.
“I am still in possession of copies of letters by Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his capacity as the Hon. Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, clearing me of any misconduct or misdeed in the OPL 245 transaction,” he said.
“There is also a subsisting court judgment that cleared me of any personal liability in carrying out a presidential order.
“I, therefore, call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to debrief Mr. Lucio Lucia for his embarrassing conduct, deliberate falsehood and dishonesty in a Court of Law.”
The Malabu OPL245 scandal is a subject of corruption trial in Italy.
Like Mr Adoke, all parties in the Milan trial have denied the charges against them.
The Nigerian authorities have also charged Messrs Adoke and Etete, as well as other parties, in separate cases, for their alleged roles in the OPL 245 deal.
President Jonathan and other officials alleged to have been involved in the deal have equally denied any wrongdoing.