Malabu oil deal: Court fixes Dec 12 to rule on statements implicating ex-AGF, Adoke


 

Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday fixed December 12 to deliver a ruling on the admissibility of six different statements which implicated a former Attorney General of the Federation AGF, Mohammed Bello Adoke, in the alleged $1.1 billion Malabu Oil fraud.

The judge fixed the date after taking arguments from Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, who stood for Adoke in the trial, and Mr Ofem Uket, who argued the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The six statements in dispute were made on different days by an oil magnate, Aliyu Abubakar, who is standing trial alongside Adoke in the alleged multi-billion dollar oil fraud.

Olanipekun, while adopting his final address in the trial-within-trial on the admissibility of the statements, told the court that the disputed statements were made in gross violation of Section 17 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

While canvassing that the statements be thrown out for being worthless, Olanipekun argued that the EFCC coerced the maker of the statements to implicate his client in the alleged multi-billion dollar oil fraud at all costs.

Among others, the senior lawyer said that the blunder of the EFCC during investigations into the alleged fraud was monumental and had no precedent in law.

Olanipekun argued that the operative of EFCC, Mr. Bala Sanga, who was deeply involved in the investigation of the maker of the statement and who was involved in the recording of the statements, ended up as the prosecutor of the same person he interrogated.

The maker of the disputed statements and oil magnate, Abubakar Aliyu had in the course of his trial along with Adoke, alleged that five EFCC operatives who subjected him to interrogation caused him to make the implicating statements under duress.

He alleged that he was asked to implicate former President Goodluck Jonathan and Adoke so as to be set free from being prosecuted.

Aliyu alleged that he was severely harassed, molested, and threatened before he succumbed to the duress.

He also alleged that some of the statements were recorded on his behalf by the anti-graft agency’s operatives.

However, following the stepping aside of Bala Sanga as the prosecutor, the new man, Mr. Ofem Uket urged the court to admit the statements adding that evidence of operatives had indicated that they were made freely, voluntarily, and under a conducive atmosphere.

Uket insisted that counsel to Aliyu Abubakar was always with him throughout the period of the investigation; hence, the allegations of duress were an afterthought.

Justice Ekwo, while fixing December 12 to make his decision known, however, said in case the ruling is ready earlier than the date, parties would be adequately communicated.

The anti-graft agency is prosecuting the erstwhile AGF alongside an oil mogul, Mr Aliyu Abubakar, on a 14-count charge.

In the charge, EFCC alleged that Adoke had, sometime in August 2013, in Abuja, accepted a cash payment of the dollar equivalent of N300 million from Aliyu, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 (as amended).

Whereas Aliyu was also accused of accepting cash payment of the sum of $4 million from Faman Holdings Limited, through one Abdulhakeem Uthman Mustapha, in September 2013, the prosecution told the court that Adoke made structured cash payment in tranches into his Unity Bank Plc Account No. 0020153263.

The prosecution maintained that the former AGF made cash payments that exceeded the approved threshold amounts outside a financial institution.

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