FCT Court Clears Former AGF Adoke of Fraud in Malabu Oil Deal

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The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, sitting in Jabi, made a ruling on Thursday, dismissing charges of fraudulent conduct related to the handling of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, commonly known as the Malabu Oil deal, against former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke. The charges were brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Adoke, along with others, including Aliyu Abubakar and Gbinije of Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd, Shell Ultra Deep Nigeria Ltd, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Ltd (SNEPCo), was charged by the anti-graft agency on January 15, 2020.

The former AGF was accused of receiving a gratification of N300 million from Abubakar concerning the resolution of OPL 245. Adoke denied all allegations.

In a ruling on Adoke’s “no case” submission, Justice Abubakar Kutigi upheld that the EFCC failed to substantiate its charges, concluding that the defendant had no case to answer. Consequently, Adoke was discharged and acquitted on all counts.

Justice Kutigi criticized the drafting and prosecution of the charges, advising the prosecuting counsel to avoid similar inadequacies in the future.

The Malabu Oil deal saga dates back to April 9, 1998, when the Federal Military Government awarded OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, reportedly owned mainly by Mohammed Abacha, son of former military ruler Sani Abacha, and Dan Etete, who served as the petroleum minister at the time.

Subsequently, President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked Malabu’s license and reassigned the oil block to Shell. However, Malabu contested the decision in court, leading to a reversal of ownership in 2006 after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the Federal Government.

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