23 December 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Former Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke SAN, has faulted the charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, of alleged involvement in a $1.6billion Malabu Oil deal, stating that he got requisite approvals from then president, Goodluck Jonathan, to broker the settlement and execute the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, he said although the charge was irrational, he was prepared to make himself available to defend it at the appropriate time.
The immediate past AGF, while maintaining that he did not benefit in any way from the auctioning of Oil Prospecting Licence 245 (OPL 245), popularly referred to as Malabu Oil Block, said the charge is part of an orchestrated plan to bring him to public disrepute in order to satisfy the wishes of some powerful interests on revenge mission.
According to him, “My attention has been drawn to the charges filed by the EFCC against me and other named individuals and companies in respect of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement involving Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited.
“The charge of aiding the commission of money laundering offences preferred against me has finally confirmed the orchestrated plans to bring me to public disrepute in order to satisfy the whims and caprices of some powerful interests on a revenge mission.
“I wish to reiterate that I acted within the actual and ostensible authority of the office I occupied to broker a settlement between Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited in order to ward off the over $2billion liability in damages for breach of contract which the country would have been exposed to in the likely event of the success of Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited’s claim before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
“The Terms of Settlement ensured that the interests of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited were duly acknowledged and provided for in the Settlement Agreement.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria was entitled to the Signature bonus which was duly paid; Malabu Oil & Gas Limited surrendered its title to OPL 245 for a consideration and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited was re-allocated OPL 245 which it had previously substantially de-risked in consideration for withdrawing their over US$2 billion claims for breach of contract against the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Explaining why the Jonathan administration executed the Settlement Agreement, Adoke said, “Since the Parties aforementioned, faithfully discharged their respective obligations under the Settlement Agreement, one cannot comprehend how the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation which brokered the Settlement was expected to renege on the agreement by denying Malabu Oil & Gas Limited the benefits associated with the relinquishing of their title to OPL 245 already warehoused in a joint FGN/Shell Escrow account, or to prevent the subsequent re-allocation of the relinquished OPL 245 to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited when the company had already furnished consideration for it to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“I am of the respectful view that it should be clear to any person dispassionately reviewing the transaction to confirm that I had no personal interest in the transaction; I did not take any benefit from it, I had requisite approvals from the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to broker the settlement and execute the OPL 245 Settlement Agreement.
“I am therefore unable to rationalise the charge of aiding the commission of money laundering offences preferred against me by the EFCC. But be that as it may, I hope to at the appropriate time make myself available to defend the charges for what whatever its worth,” the statement read.
Recall that the former minister of Justice had debunked a statement credited to his successor, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, that he and former Petroleum and Finance ministers, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and Mr. Olusegun Aganga, illegally paid money from the controversial Malabu oil deal into an escrow account.
He stated that neither himself nor the other former ministers were responsible for the payment of the $1.092billion into the escrow account, wondering how he could be held responsible for a transaction that was completed on December 23, 2003, when he was appointed AGF in April 2010.