…Court reschedules today for arraignment
The arraignment of a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on corruption charges scheduled for yesterday before an Abuja High Court sitting in Gwagwalada was stalled due to failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to serve copies of the charge on the defendants.
The EFCC was to arraign Adoke on a 42-count charge, following alleged role he played in the $1.1 billion Malabu Oil bloc fraud.
Other defendants in the charge, marked FCT/CR/151/2020, are Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.
When the case was called up, prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, told the court that the prosecution was unable to serve all the defendants with the charge.
He told the court that the 2nd defendant, Abubakar was on the run and was arrested about 15 minutes before the proceeding commenced.
The trial judge, Justice Idris Kutigi subsequently re-scheduled arraignment of the defendants till today.
Adoke had arrived the court in a bus occupied mainly by the EFCC operatives and some policemen.
The former AGF, who stepped out of the white bus on the court premises at 1:50p.m., walked into the courtroom using a walking stick as support.
Dressed in white with a cap to match, the ex-AGF appeared pale, but put up a smiling face.
Surrounded by friends, he walked to the courtroom as fast as he could, unsupported by anyone.
When he arrived the courtroom, he greeted some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), including Chief Wole Olanipekun, Chief Mike Ozekhome, Solomon Umoh, Olalekan Ojo, A. U Mustapha, and Paul Erokoro, seated in the courtroom.
After exchanging pleasantries with the senior lawyers, he chatted with some other lawyers before he later took his seat beside the dock.
The Federal Government had, on Monday, filed a fresh 42-count charge against Adoke and six others over their alleged complicity in the $1.1 billion Malabu Oil deal.
In the fresh charge with number CR/151/2020, filed at an Abuja High Court, FG alleged that Adoke and other respondents received gratification to carry out a fraudulent oil deal.
According to the Federal Government, as Attorney General, Adoke mediated controversial agreements that ceded Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and Eni, who in turn paid about $1.1 billion to accounts controlled by a former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete.
Since he left the country after the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Adoke only returned to the country on December 19, 2019 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, into the waiting arms of operatives of EFCC at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Adoke, who fled the country in 2015, has pending criminal charge brought against him by the EFCC for alleged abuse of office and money laundering in respect of the granting of the OPL 245 to Shell and ENI.
In the charge, dated January 14, 2020 and filed on January 15, the Federal Government also charged Rasky Gbinigie, A. Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Limited.
According to the charge, the former AGF, in August 2013 in Abuja, while serving as a minister, knowingly received United States dollars equivalent of N300 million, which is reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully obtained and thereby committed offence punishable under Section 319A of the Penal Code, Cap. 532 Laws of the federation of Nigeria 1990.