Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation (AGF), has asked the federal government to debrief Lucio Lucia, the lawyer representing the country in the trial of Shell and Eni in Italy over the OPL 245 transaction.
He accused the Italian of contradicting officials of the federal government as well as impugning the integrity of a subsisting judgment of a Nigerian court.
Lucia, while making a case for a $1.1 billion compensation for Nigeria at a hearing in a Milan court on Wednesday, said Adoke was indicted in the OPL 245 “hesit”, accusing the former minister of acting against the interest of the country.
The lawyer further said Adoke was involved in the alleged bribe scheme around the lucrative oil block which was sold to Shell and Eni for $1.3 billion in 2011 by Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd in a deal midwifed by the federal government.
Lucia also said Adoke was extradited from Dubai in 2019 because of his indictment in the OPL 245 case.
However, Adoke, in a statement he personally issued on Thursday, said Lucia contradicted statements by federal government officials that he did not do any wrong in the OPL 245 transaction.
Abubakar Malami, the current AGF, had issued a legal opinion to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on September 20, 2017, stating that he had reviewed the OPL 245 resolution agreements and was unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing against Adoke.
Ibe Kachikwu, then minister of state for petroleum resources, also wrote to the chief of staff to the president on December 13, 2017 that the agreements were in the national interest.
BFN Nyako, a judge of the federal high court in Abuja, also ruled in Adoke’s favour in a law suit against the AGF, declaring that a minister cannot be held personally liability for carrying out a lawful presidential order.
Adoke had argued that he was merely carrying out presidential orders in the OPL 245 agreements.
In his press statement, Adoke called on “the Federal Government of Nigeria to debrief Mr. Lucio Lucia for his embarrassing conduct, deliberate falsehood and dishonesty in a Court of Law”.
THE FULL TEXT OF ADOKE’S PRESS RELEASE
OPL 245 Case: Nigeria’s Lawyer Contradicted FGN Officials In Italian Court
It will be recalled that on 6th July 2020, I drew the attention of the public through my Solicitor, Mr. Femi Oboro, to the deliberate and malicious falsehoods contained in the statements made by the Milan Prosecutor in the ongoing proceedings against Shell and Eni and other named individuals before the Milan Court in Italy over the OPL 245 transaction. Although I am not a party to the proceedings, I have followed with keen interest to ensure that no adverse findings of criminal misconduct are made against my person.
However, in his submission before the Court on the 9th of September, 2020, Mr. Lucio Lucia, while representing the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria as the injured party entitled to civil compensation, had allegedly “reaffirmed the indictment of Mr. Adoke and others in the heist” in connection with the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement. Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time that my official role as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in the implementation of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement has been the subject of judicial pronouncement by the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice BFN Nyako.
The Court stated amongst other things that:
“1. The involvement of the Plaintiff Mr Adoke in the negotiations leading to the implementation of a Settlement Agreement dated 30th November 2006 between Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and the Federal Government of Nigeria and the eventual execution of Block 245 Malabu Resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers;
2. The involvement of the Plaintiff in the negotiation and eventual execution of the Block 245 SNUD resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Shell Nigerian Ultra Deep and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers, and;
3. The Plaintiff cannot be held personally liable for carrying out the lawful/approvals of the President while he served as a Minister of the Government of the Federation.”
It is apposite to note that apart from the above judicial pronouncement, the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements have been the subject of review by two cabinet Ministers in the present administration. First, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, in his capacity as the Attorney-General of the Federation, issued a legal opinion to the Ag. Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, dated 20th September 2017, wherein he stated that he had reviewed the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements and was unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing on my part.
Secondly, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his capacity as the Hon. Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, also reviewed the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements and in his letter to the Chief of Staff to the President, dated 13th December 2017, came to the reasoned conclusion that the agreements were in the national interest.
In the light of the above, it is clear that Mr. Lucio Lucia cannot assert on behalf of the same Federal Government of Nigeria a position that is contrary to the unassailable declarations in the subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and the views already expressed by the sitting Attorney-General of the Federation and the former Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
Mr. Lucio Lucia also lied to the court that I was extradited from Dubai for corruption related to OPL 245, knowing fully that nothing of sort ever happened. The records are there with INTERPOL that I voluntarily decided to return to Nigeria. The Nigerian Government could not proceed with extradition processes against me because the International Warrant of Arrest they wanted to use against me had been vacated by the same Nigerian court that granted it.
Mr. Lucio Lucia, with defamatory audacity, also carelessly reconstructed the evidence on my Mortgage transaction with Unity Bank to suit his narrative. This is a subject of criminal proceedings in Nigeria and, for now, I will not be able to comment against the twisting and manipulation of the facts of the failed mortgage transaction because it will be subjudicial.
Finally, while I am not adverse to the Federal Government claims before the Milan Court, I am concerned that Mr. Lucio Lucia has been allowed to present to the Court deliberate false statements against me in support of Federal Government’s case. I am still in possession of copies of letters by Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his capacity as the Hon. Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, clearing me of any misconduct or misdeed in the OPL 245 transaction. There is also a subsisting court judgment that cleared me of any personal liability in carrying out a presidential order.
I, therefore, call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to debrief Mr. Lucio Lucia for his embarrassing conduct, deliberate falsehood and dishonesty in a Court of Law.
Signed: Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, CFR