Former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Bello Adoke, who has been accused of complicity in an alleged fraud in OPL 245, otherwise known as Malabu oil deal, returned to the country yesterday and was immediately arrested by the International Police (Interpol) and detained in their custody in Abuja.
Adoke had earlier on November 11 been arrested and detained in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Interpol over the alleged $1.3 billion Malabu oil scandal when he visited the country to seek medical attention. In Dubai, the UAE had made him sign an undertaking to voluntarily return to Nigeria and report to the EFCC office. He had denied any wrongdoing in the deal.
The former minister had issued a statement through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) that he would arrive in Nigeria and go to the anti-graft agency office to report and that he was ready to face trial over the OPL 245 transaction. Upon his arrival yesterday afternoon, the Interpol arrested and detained him. The head of Interpol and Commissioner of Police, Umar Garba, told reporters yesterday: “We have a red notice for him and we have instructions to arrest him. We have carried out those instructions diligently and professionally.”
Confirming the development, he further said Adoke was arrested at the airport in Abuja by Interpol officers shortly after arriving on an Emirates flight from the UAE and would be handed over to the EFCC. “We have been in touch with the EFCC which is the Nigerian law enforcement organisation that is interested in Mr. Adoke. We are going to hand him over immediately after debriefing him.”
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, could not confirm whether Adoke had been handed over to the commission. Huhuonline.com learned that for five weeks that Adoke was in Dubai custody following his arrest on the request of the Nigerian government, Nigeria did not file for his extradition.
In the statement yesterday, Ozekhome said that on a clear instruction and mandate, Adoke would visit the EFCC office voluntarily to clear his name. “Our client remains very confident that he will be vindicated in the court of law and justice at the end of the day, after a free and fair trial, devoid of the usual media trial and conviction in the public space. “
Ozekhome confirmed that his client went to Dubai for a scheduled medical check-up, and while he was undergoing immigration checks, he was informed that Interpol had a warrant to arrest him. “He was shocked because although a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had issued a warrant of arrest against our client on the 17th of April, 2019, following an ex parte application by the EFCC, the same court had duly vacated the said arrest warrant order on the 25th of October, 2019, following our challenge of the ex parte order, and after a robust court argument between EFCC (government) counsel and my humble self, “ he said.
According to Ozekhome, there was no existing arrest warrant on which the Interpol’s action was based. He said his client showed Interpol personnel copies of the certified court order by Justice Danlami Senchi. “He also showed them the 17th of April, 2018, the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered by the Justice Binta Nyako, to the effect that our client could not be held liable for obeying lawful presidential directives on the OPL 245 transaction. The Interpol officials, however, said only the warrant of arrest was communicated to them by the Federal Government, and not any of these overriding court processes. “
Ozekhome further said that the vacation and setting aside of the warrant of arrest order made by Justice Senchi was curiously not communicated to the Interpol or the UAE authorities. “They insisted that they could only deal with the Nigerian government, which must first communicate to them, the said vacation and setting aside of the warrant of arrest. Our client told them that he was ready to return to Nigeria on his own accord after his medicals; yet, they still kept him in illegal custody for over one month, after running into a legal logjam.”
After over four years of self-exile abroad, Adoke arrived the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja aboard an Emirates Airlines Flight 785 which departed the Emirate commercial capital at about 11am Dubai time (8am Nigerian time) and touched down at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja at 3:45 pm. “Officers of the EFCC were on the ground at the airport when he arrived,” the EFCC disclosed on its twitter handle. “He was picked up at the foot of the aircraft by Interpol, refusing anyone access to him. “He is believed to be on his way to the Interpol office at Area 10, Garki, Abuja,” Ozekhome stated.
The former AGF is facing charges bordering on alleged abuse of office and money laundering with respect to the granting of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to Shell. This was what ENI filed against him and four others by the EFCC on behalf of the Nigerian Government.
Earlier, Ozekhome had disclosed that Adoke was on his way back to the country shortly after he was released by Interpol in Dubai. Adoke had regained freedom from the Interpol after one month and a week in their custody in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Adoke was arrested on November 11 in Dubai, by the Interpol immediately he entered the country to seek medical attention. The Interpol said their action was based on an international bench warrant for Adoke’s arrest issued on April 17, 2019 by Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
But Adoke had insisted his arrest in Dubai was illegal since the purported bench warrant had been vacated by the same court. However, having found no reason to continue to keep him, the Interpol and the authorities in UAE, had to release him. His lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, on on Thursday morning confirmed to THISDAY that Adoke had been released by Interpol and was already airborne on his way to Nigeria.
According to Ozekhome, the former AGF opted to come back to Nigeria. “He opted to come to Nigeria, he could have gone to any other country of his choice. But he is on his way to Nigeria and he will arrive this afternoon”, Ozekhome said.