Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to review the charges of fraud against those accused in the infamous Malabu scandal.
They include a former petroleum minister, Dan Etete, former attorney general, Mohammed Adoke, and other defendants who are facing charges of fraud in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil block case.
They are accused by the EFCC of diverting the huge amount in a series of fraudulent transactions resulting in the transfer of the rich oil well, OPL 245.
Mr. Malami’s view of the charges was contained in a memo read in court on Thursday by counsel to Mr. Adoke.
According to the memo, Mr. Malami said the current proof of evidence does not show clear links of fraud as allegedly committed by the defendants.
The counsel, Kanu Agabi, asked the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to issue an order directing that the charges against Mr. Adoke were illegal on the grounds that Mr. Adoke acted on the directives of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Agabi said in a presidential system of government, the head of government takes credit or blame for any thing good, and that therefore, his client should not be blamed for the decisions that resulted in the transfer of OPL 245 to Agip/Shell.
Speaking further, Mr. Agabi said a document present in court was proof of his client’s innocence.
He cited a letter written by Mr. Malami in which the AGF warned the EFCC that the current charges against the defendants could not be substantiated.
A copy of the letter reads:
“I refer to the above subject matter date 21/09/2016 in which you forwarded the case file to this office for vetting and further directives. Having fully examined the entire case file, I am inclined to request you to consider the charge in relation to the composition of the parties, the offences, the proof of evidence and the case summary in view of the fact that nothing in the proof of evidence appears to have directly linked parties to the offences as charged.
“A curious observation of the entire file clearly indicates that the proof of evidence is unlikely to support the counts which border on fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. The following reasons are apt: there is nothing to show that the parties as constituted were at all times working together and having a meeting of the mind to wit: to forge CAC documents and use it for the purpose of divesting the shares of the complainant and thereafter enter into a settlement agreement with FGN and other parties to take delivery of the proceeds of sale of OPL 245.
“There is nothing in the proof of evidence to support the charge of money laundering therefore it is unrealistic for the prosecution to prove the elements which include illicit funds, attempt to conceal/concealment of illicit funds, transfer of such funds through various channels to introduce same as legitimate funds, in financial institutions. Without the express proof of these elements, this count may not be sustainable.
“The EFCC investigation and attached proof of evidence do not appear to have clearly revealed the case of fraud against the parties in view of their claim that they acted in their official capacities with purported approval of the president of the FGN at the time and with claimed intentions that the matter be resolved in the national interest to save the nation from acrimonious litigations resulting into high legal fees and the non production of the oil field while litigation lasted,” the AGF said in the letter.
He advised the commission to expand investigation with a view to building a strong case against the defence.
“Furthermore, I am of the view that the Public Officers Protection Act CAP P41 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 limits liability of public officers to a period of three months following the acts which are complained of unless if the acts were not within the mandate of the functions of the public officer, and your investigation needs to have covered that eventuality in view of the claim that the acts were authorized by the three presidents before this current administration.
“On the above grounds, I am of the considered view that there is the need to consolidate the charges and the matter be thoroughly investigated especially regarding the allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the $ 1.1 Billion USD in order to satisfy the constituent elements of offences.
“You are to also take steps to urgently file an application for a worldwide mareva injunction and or the forfeiture of the assets of the beneficiaries of the $1.1Billion USD pending the conclusion of your investigation in the areas above stated,” the letter said.
After listening to the arguments of counsel, the judge, Binta Nyako, adjourned till February 28 to rule on the motion.