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allAfrica: Nigeria: UK Wants to Quiz Adenuga, Says Ag: ‘Why are they shielding Shell’s officials?’

EXTRACT: He said he had asked for the evidence but was surprised to discover that the evidence against the officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company who took part in the scam were under seal. “Why is that only the names of the Nigerians officials that were on display? Why are they shielding Shell’s officials?

This Day (Lagos)
4 December 2007
Funso Muraina
Abuja

Federal Government said yesterday that the British Government had requested permission to interrogate the Chairman of Globacom, Chief Mike Adenuga, over his business transactions.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, disclosed this to journalists at a press conference in Abuja.
 
Aondoakaa said he had replied the British authorities that their request was being considered.

He said: “The Home Office also asked that an officer from my office be nominated to join their investigation team when they come to quiz the business magnate.

“We have responded to this request today that we are working on their request. Now how can somebody accuse me of shielding people from prosecution? What we have been doing is to insist on due process.

“I must emphasise however that permission is not automatic. We will give them permission if we think that they deserve it. We have to create respect for our country and our citizens.”

He said that the British authorities in the request, said it would like to meet with customs officials, agents and others to whom payments were made in respect of importations of telecoms equipment.

He said they asked for written statements from some staff of Equatorial Trust Bank and others who took part in the importation of the equipment.

“I must warn you, however, that they are not accusing him of corruption. They said that they were interested in establishing the truth,” he added.

Talking about the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, on whom a similar request was made and which was turned down by Aondoakaa, he said that it was wrong for anyone to accuse him of preventing Ibori from prosecution.

He stated that under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between Nigeria and Britain, the appropriate authority to ask for mutual legal assistance from Britain was the Home Office, while the AGF was the appropriate authority in Nigeria.

He said that the British authorities insulted Nigeria by asking a Crown counsel with the Metropolitan Police to write to him seeking mutual legal assistance.

“In Nigeria, a Crown Counsel is the equivalent of a state counsel, a level 8 officer. So I refused and told them that they have to do the right thing. I think Nigeria, as a sovereign nation deserves some respect. They knew they were wrong, otherwise why did they now write through the Home Office requesting mutual assistance to quiz a prominent Nigeria, Chief Mike Adenuga?

“I cannot compromise the sovereignty of this country, if they make incompetent requests I will turn them down 20 times. Any request from Metropolitan Police would be refused by this office, period. We had earlier made a request in 2004 to the Metropolitan Police. They faulted us and refused until we did the right thing.

“If they bring another request under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed by the appropriate authorities, I will attend to it. When I rejected their request on Ibori, the Ambassador came here with a superintendent to say that they did not mean to undermine the AGF and I agreed with them. What I am saying is that the procedure they adopted was wrong. Otherwise, why are they now doing the right thing in the case of Mike Adenuga.”

He further stated that without reference to his office, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) sent evidence, including bank statements and other documents to London on Ibori, and that it was later the commission who wrote to him asking him to authorise the British Authorities to use the evidence.

“Now, how can I sign something which did not pass through my office? I do not know the documents in question because they were not even attached to the letter the commission sent to me. How can someone accuse me of shielding Ibori under such a circumstance?

“People should ask why the commission has not initiated his trial all this while. The truth is that EFCC sent the documents to London without authority. That is the position of government. I did not write any letter to the President that Ibori should not be prosecuted. There is nothing like that. I simply refused the request for mutual legal assistance because it was procedurally flawed,” he said.

On Wilbros scam, Aondoakaa said that he had travelled to Houston in the US to ask that the US authorities allow the relevant Nigerian agencies to investigate the matter.

He said he had asked for the evidence but was surprised to discover that the evidence against the officials of Shell Petroleum Development Company who took part in the scam were under seal.

“Why is that only the names of the Nigerians officials that were on display? Why are they shielding Shell’s officials? These are relevant questions we should be asking as Nigerians. We are pressurising the US authorities to release the names of the Shell’s officials.

“Every country tries to protect its own citizens, so why should we be treating our citizens as if they are not human beings? The matter is being handled by EFCC, we are hoping that they will unravel the names of the Shell’s officials involved,” he said.
 
Meanwhile, former Minister of Finance and director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Onaolapo Soleye, has said his hands are clean in the $6 million Wilbros bribe scandal.

Fresh facts emerging indicate that although Soleye was named in the scandal, he might not have received any payment from Wilbros.

There is no conclusive proof that the $30,000 written against his name was passed on to him by the American oil service company.

Reacting to the story in a letter to THISDAY entitled “Re: Atiku, Soleye, Shell named in Wilbros bribe scandal”, Soleye said: “Let me make this categorical statement: I have never directly or indirectly had any relationship with Wilbros.”
 
He said he would expect THISDAY to do a thorough investigation to get to the root of “the lie”, adding that all the findings should be made available to Nigerians.

According to him, “Please make available to all and sundry the outcome of the various investigations particularly the names of the Wilbros staff that gave the purported bribe or the agent through which it might have been paid, the time, date and place that such transaction took place, and other helpful information.”

He said he trusted THISDAY to do the investigation successfully to help Nigeria at the present moment “to spare innocent people such undeserved embarrassment”.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200712040005.html

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