By James Ezema
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) can detain the former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke for 14 days, a Federal Capital Territory High Court has ordered.
Mr Adoke was handed over to the EFCC by International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) on Thursday and taken into custody for his alleged involvement in the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell and ENI.
A vacation Judge, Justice Othman Musa of the FCT High Court sitting in Bwari gave the order as prayed by the EFCC’s counsel, Fatima Mustapha, to further detain the immediate past AGF for 14 days to enable it to conclude its investigations.
The anti-graft agency had sought a request from the Court in Abuja on April 17 to secure a warrant of arrest against Adoke and four others, after attempts to produce the defendants in court failed.
The court granted the request by the EFCC, leading to Adoke’s arrest by the INTERPOL in Dubai in November.
The Oil giants, Shell and Eni, are facing criminal charges over alleged $1.1 billion deal struck for Nigerian oil block OPL 245 in 2011.
According to charges filed by the EFCC in Abuja, ENI, ENI’s Nigerian subsidiary Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited and Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited were accused of conspiring to commit “Official Corruption contrary to Section 9 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000”.
Mr. Adoke and former Oil Minister, Chief Dan Etete were also charged with official corruption for receiving over $800m from Shell and Eni.
The EFCC alleged that Mr. Adoke received $2,267,400 on September 16, 2013,
Adoke is alleged to have received these funds as payment for the negotiations he brokered between Shell, Eni and Dan Etete’s company for the OPL 245 oil block.
The action from Nigerian law enforcement comes soon after Italian prosecutors moved to press charges over the OPL 245 deal.
Milan prosecutors have requested the trial of Shell, Eni and Eni’s Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi, Chief Operations Officer, Roberto Casula and other individuals on international corruption charges.
Italian prosecutors are seeking separate charges against four senior Shell executives including current Shell Foundation Chairman Malcolm Brinded, who was head of Global Exploration and Production at the time of deal.
In 2011, Shell and Eni paid $1.1 billion to Malabu Oil and Gas, a front company secretly owned by a former Nigerian oil minister,
Prosecutors have alleged that over US$500m went to “fronts for [former] President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria”.
Shell and Eni have always denied that they knew the money would go to Malabu, just as former President Jonathan denied the allegations against him, saying in a statement that he has never used fronts to “seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf.”
The two oil companies and their investors risk losing their rights to the block, as a result of the alleged crooked deal.
In January 2017 Nigerian authorities seized the block, pending the prosecution of the oil companies involved. The EFCC labelled the oil block “proceeds of crime” but Shell and Eni have appealed.
In a statement on the 28th February, Eni claimed to have carried out an investigation into corruption allegations which apparently found “no evidence of corrupt conduct in relation to the transaction.”