OPL 245: Group condemn Adoke’s plot, blackmail tricks to scuttle probe of shady deals
Several human right groups and the media met on Thursday issuing out strong warning to influential Nigerians accusing them of desperation to cover up investigations to fraud linked to the OPL 245 deal. Stolen funds by Nigerian officials in collaboration with foreigners linked to the OPL 245 deal is in billions of dollars.
At the summit held on Thursday at the at The Colossus, Sheraton-Opebi Link Road, Ikeja, Lagos, several civil society groups and the media vowed to fight the battle for transparency in the deal to a logical conclusion. Irohin Odua was present at the roundtable meeting.
Key figures identified were the former Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke and other collaborators including some police officers and media practitioners being employed to turn state and media institutions to an instrument for covering up crimes committed by influential Nigerians against the state.
The presentation read on behalf of the civil society by Executive Director, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), Suleiman Arigbabu accused Adoke and some oil company crooks of an organised campaign, sometimes involving the use of corrupt media practitioners and medium to blackmail Mr Suraju Olanrewaju, whose organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA-Resource Centre) continue to demonstrate rare courage and determination in bringing to justice highly placed Nigerians connected to the fraud.
The group said in recent times, the criminal ring behind the scam who is desperate to cover up its dirty routes have been sponsoring opinion articles and spin even statements they attempt to link with security operates who never issued such. They do this in collaboration with rogue police officers, the groups said vowing to expose the evil plots to criminalise genuine efforts by Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption group to bring to justice highly placed people whose criminal records diminished their status and the place of Nigeria in the comity of nations.
Arigbabu said the summit was to update Nigeria and indeed the world on how impunity and manipulation of Public Institutions is subverting the cause of getting justice and restitution for Nigeria in an oil deal that has been severally described as perhaps the most brazen heist in the oil sector in any part of the world.
“This is pertinent going by the Yoruba adage, that áitete mu ole, ole nmu oloko, if you hesitate in apprehending a thief; the thief becomes emboldened and arrests the victim. This aptly describes attempts by Mr. Adoke in the last seven months to subvert the cause of justice and perfect a get-a-way plan from the Malabu oil heist. It is thus our resolve to keep this matter in public domain regardless of the harassment and blackmail from Mr Adoke, his police friends and some corrupt media executives,” Arigbabu said.
Speaking further he recalled that HEDA Resource Centre and our three other international anti-corruption partners were the subjects of wholly unfounded allegations of forging an email that that seek to indict Mr. Adoke of complicity in the diversion of over a billion US dollars of Nigeria’s money to a private bank account from the Malabu oil deal.
He said despite the fact that the email in question was furnished by the UK authorities in response to a Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request by the Milan Prosecutor (Italy) in the trial of Eni, Shell and others for international corruption related to the OPL 245 transaction in 2011, Adoke and Etiebet are insisting blindly that the email was forged.
“Though the defendants in that trial were acquitted, that ruling actually indicted Mr. Muhammed Bello Adoke even though he was not on that charge list. Equally the Milan Prosecutors and the Federal Republic of Nigeria have appealed the judgement in Italy. You would also be aware of a purported police report published in some online media platforms alleging that the police indict Olanrewaju Suraju of cyber stalking and accused HEDA of being an unregistered organisation.”
The groups said the email in question was sent by a Mohammed Bello Adoke on 21 June 2011 to JP Morgan Chase bank. The email address used was firstname.lastname@example.org. The groups argued that the allegations of forgery were made by Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN, a person under investigation and prosecution by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“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 that benefited from the OPL 245 deal. If, as claimed by Mr. Adoke SAN, that 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 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 groups said adding that it is a case in which the Nigeria has invested inestimable resources and provided immense technical and professional support to partner agencies in Italy, UK and the Netherlands, hence the need to lay the facts bare in public domain.
Arigbabu recalled that 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).
He observed that at paragraph 54D of the FRN’s Re-Re-Amended Particulars of Claim, the FRN states that, on 21 July 2011, Mohamed Adoke, who was Attorney General of Federation at the time of the deal, corresponded with JP Morgan from the email address “email@example.com”.
“At paragraph 46D of JPMC’s Re-Re-Amended Defence, JPMC admits to the existence and content of the email. As the FRN 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”, he said.
He said that since Mr Adoke’s complaint was filed with the IGP, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, together with his lawyer have attended the IGP monitoring unit office in Abuja, on six occasions. These visits has generated considerable travel and accommodation costs, given that Mr Suraju is normally based in Lagos.
The gathering said during the last 4 months, a separate investigation into the origin of the email in question was commenced by the Police Cybercrimes Unit, together with Interpol, based on the counter petition submitted to the IGP. Please note that the IGP officially announced the disbandment of the IGP Units outside Abuja and reform of the Abuja Unit. As such, the IGP Unit investigation files were supposed to be transferred over to the Cybercrimes Unit, for a professional and conclusive investigation.
Despite these circumstances, the groups noted, the Adoke Petition was curiously retained by IGP Monitoring Unit, defying a clear directive of the IGP and signal from the DIG, FCID on the transfer of the file to Cybercrimes Unit, in cooperation with Interpol.
Arigbabu said it was a clear attempt to manipulate police investigations. According to the groups, the true substance of this matter is that some crooks stole from the people of Nigeria over a billion dollars and are desperate to subvert the cause of justice so that they could get away with their crime by any means possible.
“The other substance is to establish whether indeed HEDA and our partners forged an email which we only came to know about when it was presented in evidence in open court, and that if not Muhammed Bello Adoke, then who originated that email? It is unfortunate that despite the claims by the Government of the day to fighting corruption, some persons of ill intention are still able to manipulate critical institutions of Government to fester their criminal interests”, the groups said.
The rights groups said it was unfortunate that Olanrewaju Suraju, HEDA Resource Centre and our international anti-corruption partners have suffered considerable reputation assault by the manipulation of the facts by Mr. Adoke and his turncoat media charlatans.
“We intend to explore the full extent of the law to seek redress and succour. We must at this juncture praise and commend the vast investigative work done by Nigeria and foreign media in unravelling this fraud, particularly the effort of Premium Times and Sahara Reporters stand out, and formed a major source of all the information we have used in prosecuting this patriotic campaign” Arigbabu said.