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

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Justice Othman Musa of a FCT High Court in Abuja on Tuesday said he would return the case file of Mohammed Adoke, a former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, to the Federal Capital Territory chief judge.

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

Adoke had on December 23  filed the bail application, citing ill-health. He urged the court to grant him bail on self-recognizance having voluntarily returned to the country from Dubai,  United Arab Emirate(UAE).

He frontloaded his medical records as exhibits to guide the court’s decision.

But the EFCC said mere claim  of ill-health was not a sufficient justification for admitting him to bail.

It said Adoke had not exhibited any sign of ill-health that should warrant the EFCC to transfer him to a well-equipped government hospital.

The anti-graft agency said some of the exhibits tendered by Adoke were received on December 23, after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had obtained a remand warrant from the court.

The EFCC alleged that Adoke might jump bail and escape in addition to the likelihood of interference with witnesses the EFCC might wish to contact.

The anti-graft agency  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 the Oil Prospecting Licence 245, otherwise known as Malabu Oil.

They were also accused of other forms of offences to the tune of about $1.2 billion and  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.

When the hearing for the bail application was called yesterday, Benson Igbanoi, who represented Adoke, informed the court that he would not be able to move the bail application because the prosecution just served him with its preliminary objection.

“This morning, we were served with a counter affidavit to our motion filed on December 23,” he told the court.

“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 prayed.

Responding, Mr Bala Sanga, the prosecuting counsel , reminded the court that there was  an existing order permitting the EFCC to detain Adoke for 14 days.

He said the order, which was granted on December  20, would expire tomorrow.

At that point, Justice  Musa, a vacation judge, said he would not be available to hear the application when the order expires.

Justice Musa said he would return the case file to the chief judge for further action.

Adoke was picked up on December  19 by the INTERPOL at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja,  on his arrival from Dubai 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 conclude its investigation on Adoke over corruption allegations.

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