IG asked to investigate Adoke, Etete over alleged forgery linked to OPL 245 scam
By Sadiat Balogun
The Inspector General of Police,(IG) Usman Alkali Baba has been asked to investigate former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke and the former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete and Abubakar Aliyu over a string of forgery allegations linked to the OPL245 scandal.
In a petition sent to the Inspector General of Police (IG), Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Corner House and Re:Common, two global anti-corruption groups based in the United Kingdom (UK) the police were asked to open up a new frontier in the lingering scam that has seen Nigeria loose billions of dollars to crooks.
The petition tagged “Demand for Investigation of Alleged Forgery and Impersonation Resulting in Cyber Criminality, Financial Crime and Economic Sabotage Against Nigeria” was signed by notable Nigerian human rights lawyer, Kunle Adegoke (SAN). A copy was made available to Irohinoodua
The OPL 245 oil scandal is the Nigerian equivalent of Irangate. It involved Eni, Shell and others charged for international corruption in Milan where they were prosecuted but acquitted in the first round of persisting but controversial legal row. The OPL 245 transaction was in 2011.
In Nigeria, key suspects through their lawyers have launched a blitzkrieg of attacks against HEDA and it’s international partners with the chief suspects insisting on their innocence and claiming that an email used in evidence involving Mohammed Bello Adoke on 21 June 2011 to JP Morgan Chase bank was forged. The email address is [email protected].
The anti corruption groups through their lawyers, Adegoke and co, said the allegations of forgery were made by Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN, a person under investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) were spurious adding that the prosecutors in Milan, Italy had sought the authenticity both of the UK’s Mutual Legal Assistance response and of evidence that are highly relevant to a case in which Nigeria as a country has invested inestimable resources and provided immense technical and professional support to countries like Italy, UK and the Netherlands.
The anti corruption groups said the allegations that the email was forged by them was a conscious attempt to divert public rapt attention from the global crime.
“The allegation that we forged the email is entirely fanciful. Our own research confirms that the email is associated with a Mr Aliyu Abubakar and two of his companies which benefited from the OPL 245 deal. If, as claimed by Mr Adoke SAN, the email was not sent by him, there is thus a strong likelihood that it emanated from Mr Aliyu Abubakar or an associate or employee of his companies. If so, there are strong grounds for suspecting that the email was a forgery and cybercrime, involving the impersonation of Mr Adoke in order to defraud the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) of funds that should, on the FRN’s own account, have benefited Nigeria” the anti corruption groups stated urging the IG to investigate the claims.
The groups said the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) is currently suing JP Morgan Chase in the English High Court for damages relating to the bank’s handling of funds arising from Shell and Eni’s allegedly corrupt acquisition of the OPL 245 oil field in Nigeria (case number: CL-2017-000730).
It said at paragraph 54D of the Nigerian government stated that on 21 July 2011, Mohammed Adoke, who was Attorney General of Federation at the time of the deal, corresponded with JP Morgan from the email address “[email protected]” noting that at paragraph 46D of JPMC’s Re-Re-Amended Defence, JPMC admits to the existence and content of the email.
As the Nigerian government points out at paragraph 54E of its Re-Re-Amended claim, A Group is a group of Nigerian companies controlled by Mr Abubakar Aliyu. A company named A Group Construction and another called Novel Properties and Development Company Ltd subsequently became vehicles through which some of the OPL 245 funds transferred by JP Morgan to a company named Malabu Oil & Gas were disbursed.
The email forms part of a chain of correspondence between JPMC and officials of the administration of former President Jonathan. Ultimately, this correspondence led to JPMC transferring a whopping $801 million to Malabu Oil & Gas – money that should have gone to the Federation Account,” the groups stated.
The group listed several transactions linked to the same email including but not limited to the 21st June 2011 where one Bayo Osolake (as a representative of the Defendant) received an email sent by a Mohammed Bello Adoke from the email address ‘[email protected]’, attaching copies of each of the Resolution Agreements”.
Also on July 8, 2011 “Danladi Kifasi, purportedly the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Finance of the FGN, instructed JPMC to transfer a lesser amount of USD 877 million to an account this time held by Malabu itself at Banque Misr Liban sal, in Lebanon.
The groups noted that on 23rd November 2020, after Corner House, Global Witness and Re:Common became aware of the FRN’s Re-Re-Amended Particulars of Claim in the FRN vs JPMC case, they wrote to the Milan Prosecutor to draw his attention to the email, believed to be relevant to the prosecution in Milan of Royal Dutch Shell, Eni Spa, Mr. Dan Etete and others for alleged international corruption in relation to the OPL 245 deal.
The group said on 24 November 2020, the Milan Prosecutor issued a European Investigation Order (EIO) to the UK, seeking the email from JP Morgan and that on 18 December 2020, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office responded to the EIO, furnishing the email to the Milan Prosecutor’s office.
“On 20 January 2021, the Milan Prosecutor sought permission in open court from the Milan Tribunal to have the email accepted as evidence. The official court transcript records that the Prosecutor detailed the procedure through which the email had been obtained from JP Morgan by the UK authorities” the groups stated adding that the Milan Tribunal subsequently accepted the email as evidence in the trial and the Prosecutor presented it to the court on 3 February 2021.
HEDA said the forgery allegations and the presentation of the email to the Milan Tribunal received wide publicity, both internationally and in Nigeria adding that in response, Mohammed Adoke’s lawyer, Kanu Agabi SAN wrote a petition to the IG with false claims that the individuals who initiated the petition, investigations and the criminal trial at the court of Milan have engaged in “acts of forgery of the email”
The email would certainly appear, said HEDA’s lawyer, damaging to Mr Adoke, who is charged in Nigeria with a number of offences arising from the OPL 245 deal.
HEDA said specifically, the email points to an association between Mohammed Bello Adoke and the Abubakar’s company that subsequently arranged the purchase of a house for Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN.
The groups said Mr. Adoke failed to challenge this alleged forged document when it was submitted by the Milan Prosecutor to the Milan Court during prosecution of Mr. Etete and other defendants.
“We believe that Mr Adoke’s complaint to you is a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice and would request that you investigate.” said HEDA
The group said filings registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission reveal that [email protected] has been used as the email address for A Group Construction, a company established on 8 March 2001 and that the CAC filings include a Resolution on company headed paper dated 26 September 2011 with the email address given for the company as [email protected].
“This establishes that the address was associated with the company from at least that date,” Adekoke said
HEDA said A Group Construction is one of six companies known to have received parts of the $801,000,000 transferred by JP Morgan to Malabu Oil & Gas.
“The company received $157 million.
Mr Aliyu Abubakar was a founding director and shareholder of A Group Construction and still held those roles in 2011 when the email was sent and when the company received monies from the OPL245 deal. Bank documents relating to a First Bank account for Novel Properties and Development Company Ltd also record the email [email protected] being given as the contact email for Aliyu Abubakar”. HEDA stated noting that Novel Properties and Development Company Ltd also received money emanating from the OPL 245 deal to the tune of $30 million.
HEDA insists Mr. Bello Mohammed Adoke has a long standing relationship with Mr. Abubakar Aliyu citing his recently published autobiography titled “Burden of Service”, where Mr. Adoke admitted this much when he said, “…Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, a builder and a developer whom I had been acquainted with for a long time, had earlier approached me with an offer to sell me a house for N500 million.”
The group noted that Mr Abubakar, like Mr Adoke, is currently being prosecuted by the EFCC for money laundering and other charges in relation to the OPL245 deal.
HEDA said the email address from which the email of 21 June 2011 was sent to JP Morgan would appear to be directly linked to Mr Abubakar and to two companies of which he was a director and shareholder, namely A Group Construction and Novel Properties and Development Company Ltd adding that between them, these companies received some $187 million from the monies that emanated from the OPL 245 transaction.
“If the email was not sent by Mr Adoke, there are strong grounds for suspecting that it was sent either by Mr Abubakar himself or by someone associated with or employed by the companies and who had access to their email account”
HEDA asked the IG to investigate lingering information that the original email as received by JPMC will have properties and electronic information that would enable the identification of the IP address from which it was sent.
The group wants the Nigerian police to contact JPMC and the SFO of United Kingdom, to seek their verification of the origins of the email through forensic analysis contrary to attempts by Adoke and his lawyers to get the police at harassment and intimidation of HEDA and its Chairman.
“The company registration profile and documents of A Group Construction and Novel Properties and Development Company Ltd be obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission for the purpose of establishing and verifying the ownership and connections with the email sent to the bank and by whom” HEDA stated
The anti corruption group argued that investigation of connections between the alleged forged email and the ultimate release of $801m to the beneficiaries and prosecution of all the crimes associated with the ‘impersonations’ and forgery while the police should contact the lawyers representing FRN at the UK Civil matter (case number: CL-2017-000730) through the Federal Ministry of Justice to establish the validity of our claims and Nigeria’s response to email as presented in the case.