Judge returns Adoke’s file to CJ over alleged $1.2b oil scam

Justice Othman Musa of an Abuja High Court yesterday said he was returning the case file of Mohammed Adoke, a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), to the chief judge of the Federal Capital Territory.

Musa said this at the resumed sitting scheduled for hearing of Adoke’s bail application over the $1.2 billion Malabu oil scam.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2017 filed charges against Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Adoke, and 10 others over the matter.

EFCC in the suit marked FCT/HC/CR/124/17 accused the defendants of fraudulently allocating Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, otherwise known as Malabu Oil. They were also accused of other forms of offences including forgery of bank documents, bribery, and corruption.

The alleged money scam involved the transfer of the OPL 245, purportedly from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, to Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited.

Benson Igbanoi, the counsel who represented Adoke, informed the court that he would not be able to move the bail application because the prosecution had just served him with its preliminary objection.

“This morning, we were served with a counter affidavit to our motion filed on December 23,” he said. “By reason of the facts raised in the counter affidavit, which call for further affidavits and also a need for reply on point of law, we are therefore constrained to ask for a short adjournment to enable us to respond accordingly,” Igbanoi added.

Responding, Bala Sanga, the prosecuting counsel, reminded the court that there is an existing order permitting the EFCC to detain Adoke for 14 days. He said the order, which was granted on December 20, would expire January 2, 2020.

Justice Musa, a vacation judge, said he would not be available to hear the application when the order expires. He said he would return the case file to the chief judge for further action.

Adoke was picked up on December 19 by Interpol on his arrival from Dubai at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and handed over to the EFCC.

Musa had earlier granted the EFCC an order seeking to hold the former minister in its custody for 14 days. The order was to enable the anti-graft agency to conclude its investigation on Adoke over corruption allegations.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adoke returned to the country after five years of self-exile in Dubai.

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