A former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on Wednesday, expressed delight at the verdict of the Commercial Court of England which ruled out any fraud in the Oil Processing Licence 245 transaction between Nigeria and JP Morgan Chase Bank.
At the court, Nigeria lost $1.7bn case against bank for the its role in the transfer of dollars to a former petroleum minister convicted for corruption.
Adoke, in a statement on Wednesday, said although he was not a party in the suit, the Federal Government made numerous attempts to present the transaction as a case of corruption in order to nail him.
He said the intention was to justify what he described as spurious criminal proceedings instituted against him in Nigeria.
According to him, now that it is clear to all discerning minds that no fraud was perpetrated in the OPL 245 resolution agreement, the AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN), should be advised to refrain from wasting Nigeria’s hard-earned foreign exchange by way of legal fees on local and foreign counsel in a bid to prove the existence of a fraud that never was,
The former minister said, “I received with delight the news of the 137-page judgment of the Commercial Court of England and Wales in Case No CL-2017-000730 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. delivered on June 14, 2022, declaring yet again that there is no evidence of fraud in the OPL 245 transaction.
“Although I was not expecting a contrary judgment knowing well that I did no wrong and I served Nigeria with all honesty and every sense of duty and patriotism, it is very gratifying that foreign courts have declared over and over again that there were no fraudulent or corrupt practices involved in the OPL 245 Settlement Resolution.
“Although I was not a party in the suit, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, caused all manner of false depositions to be made against me to paint the transaction with the tar of corruption to justify the spurious criminal proceedings instituted against me in Nigeria.
“I am particularly pleased with the outcome of the suit because if it were to be Nigerian courts, I would have been accused of buying justice by my traducers, who are hell-bent on tarnishing my name and destroying me for political reasons.”
Adoke recalled that OPL 245 was awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in 1998 by the military government of late Gen Sani Abacha (retd.) and it was revoked by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001, following which the oil firm went to court to challenge the action.
He said Obasanjo’s administration opted for an out-of-court settlement and returned OPL 245 to the oil firm 100 per cent and that was the state of affairs when he (Adoke) was appointed AGF by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010.
He added, “President Jonathan asked me, as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, to give him legal advice on the validity and enforceability of the out-of-court settlement entered by the Obasanjo administration.
“After reviewing all the documents related to the oil block, I advised him that the settlement agreement dated November 30, 2006 had already been reduced into a subsisting consent judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“My involvement in the entire OPL 245 saga was carrying out the lawful directives/approvals of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, to the effect that the settlement agreement was implemented.
“However, when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015, some influential figures in his government deceived him into believing that Nigeria could get back the $1.1bn that Shell/ENI paid to Malabu for OPL 245. They thought that by impugning the transaction and painting me with the tar of corruption, they would have a great chance in court.
“As part of the scheme, they elicited the assistance of some so-called activists and anti-corruption crusaders at home and abroad to scandalise my name by forging all kinds of documents to be used against me in local and foreign jurisdictions where the OPL 245 transaction was undergoing judicial scrutiny.”
Adoke reiterated that every action he took concerning the resolution of the controversies around OPL 245 and the eventual transfer of the oil block from Malabu to Shell and ENI was done with the requisite presidential approvals and the best intentions for Nigeria.
“I have been unjustly defamed locally and internationally, and my livelihood has been taken from me; however, I am grateful to friends, colleagues and well-wishers who have stood by me throughout this challenging and depressing period.
“Now that it is clear to all discerning minds that no fraud was perpetrated in the OPL 245 resolution agreement, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation should be advised to refrain from wasting Nigeria’s hard-earned foreign exchange by way of legal fees on local and foreign counsel in a bid to prove the existence of a fraud that never was,” he concluded.