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Update on OPL 245 Nigerian Oil Scam

Anti-corruption groups write Buhari, IG, fault Adoke on OPL 245 fraud charges 

An international coalition of anti-corruption groups has asked the Inspector General of Police, IG, Adamu Abubakar, to dismiss request for fresh investigation made by former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, on the OPL 245 oil fraud. Adoke had asked the IG to investigate the source of an important email that nailed him saying it was a red herring.

The coalition made up of Re-Common, The Corner House Human & Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) and Global Witness said a copy of the petition signed by Executive Director, Re-Common, Mr Luca Manes, was sent to President Mohammadu Buhari last week.

According to the group, the letter dismissed Adoke’s claims saying that concrete evidence faults his attempt to exonerate himself from the cobweb of graft running into hundreds of millions of dollars in the OPL 245 scam.

It should be recalled that Adoke among many others was charged by EFCC to court in cases that established mind-boggling corruption running into billions of Naira with the controversial email providing a major source of evidence. Adoke had issued a statement through his lawyers saying the email may have been forged by ‘parties responsible for the petition, investigations and commencement of the criminal trial at the court of Milan’. But the global anti-corruption movement is tearing Adoke’s new position into shreds.

“There is an attempt by Adoke to create a safe passage in the face of overwhelming evidence against him. Asking the IG to investigate the email already entered into the Milan Tribunal.”

The groups said they were responsible for pulling off the lid to expose the can of worms in the OPL 245 dirty deals, noting that the email was from an address associated with A Group Properties, a company owned by Aliyu Abubakar, who is also charged in Milan and Nigeria with offences related to the OPL 245 deal.

It said the email was sent to an employee of JP Morgan Chase, the bank that held the proceeds of the deal on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and that it was dully signed by a Mohammed Bello Adoke.

The coalition said, “The email would certainly appear damaging to Mr Adoke, who is charged in Nigeria with a number of offences arising from the OPL 245 deal. Specifically, the email points to an association between a Mohammed Bello Adoke and the Abubakar company that subsequently arranged the purchase of a house for Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke. Moreover, that association is specifically tied to the OPL 245 deal through the email. It is therefore understandable that Mr Adoke should try to discredit the email.”

It noted that the email first came to light in 2021 as part of civil proceedings by the Federal Republic of Nigeria against JP Morgan Chase [JPMC] in the High Court in London, where it was disclosed by JPMC and cited in support of its claim and that the Milan Prosecutor obtained the email through legal means.

The coalition said the email, which was sent from an email account associated with A Group Properties, was received by an employee of JPMC on 21 June 2011.

“At the time, none of our groups knew of the existence of A Group Properties, nor of the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements that were attached to the email. At the time, these agreements were secret and would only have been accessible to parties to the deal, their associates and government officials.

“The existence of the Resolution Agreements did not come into the public domain until late 2011, months after the email was sent. This alone suggests that the email was sent by someone with official access to the documents,” the coalition said.

It argued that Adoke, through his lawyers, himself suggests a plausible explanation for the email that does not involve forgery, that it was sent by a government official as indicated in the press statement which stated that “Our client while in office had at least five aides working with him, and could have sent an email on his behalf assuming that Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN was busy, or had issues with his email account.”

The coalition said despite this admission, Adoke makes no request for an investigation into this possibility.  “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. Mr. Adoke failed to challenge this alleged forged document when it was submitted by the Milan Prosecutor to the Milan Court in the ongoing prosecution,.

It asks the IG to contact JPMC, the SFO of United Kingdom, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Justice, the EFCC and the Milan Public Prosecutor to seek their verification of the origins of the email.

“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 this. We would draw your attention to the fact that Mr. Adoke was repatriated from the United Arab Emirate by the Nigerian Government and that Messrs Adoke and Abubakar are facing potential trials in three different cases arising from the investigation of the OPL 245 case.”

The group noted that in addition, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) has recovered $78million related to the OPL 245 deal from the UK – money that was recovered as stolen assets while the Nigerian authority is also a civil party to the Milan trial. The coalition said depending on the outcome of that trial, the Nigerian State stands to benefit potentially from substantial further compensation.

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