$1.2bn Malabu oil deal: Court orders arrest of Adoke, Etete, others

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Jabi has ordered the arrest of two former ministers – Mohammed Adoke (Justice) and Deazia Louya Etete (aka Dan Elete) (Petroleum Resources). The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has reported.

Also to be arrested are Raph Wezels, Casula Roberto, Pujato Stefeno and Burrato Sebastino, who are senior officials of Shell, Agip and Eni SPA.

The order for their arrest was issued by Justice Danladi Senchi upon an ex-parte motion argued yesterday by Aliyu Yusuf, a director in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The five men are said to be linked to the alleged $1.2billion fraud associated with the Malabu Oil deal and for which three charges have been filed in three courts against them and their companies.

Justice Senchi, after listening to Yusuf, issued the “warrant for arrest of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th defendants/respondents”.

In the motion, Wezels is listed as the 4th defendant, Roberto (fifth), Stefeno (sixth), Sebastino (seventh), Etete (eighth) and Adoke (ninth).

The judge also granted the applicant (EFCC) “leave to execute the warrant outside the jurisdiction of this honourable court”.

Other defendants in the motion are four non-natural persons – Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Eni SPA and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

Yusuf, had, while moving the motion, told the court that the EFCC had filed a three-count charge since March 2, 2017 against all the defendants.

He said Wetzels, Roberto, Stefeno, Sebatiano, Etete and Adoke are listed in counts one and three of the charge. The second count is directed at Etete and Adoke.

Yusuf said: “Since the charge was filed, it has been mentioned in court on several occasions, but the defendants have refused to submit themselves before the court for the purpose of their arraignment.”

He said the arrest warrant was needed to apprehend the fleeing defendants, most of who are outside jurisdiction, for the purpose of bringing them before the court for them to plea to the charge.

The EFCC stated, in a supporting affidavit, that the “fact that led to this charge was a case bordering on fraudulent allocation of Oil Prospecting Licence OPL 245 and OPL 214, conspiracy, laundering of over $1.2 billion, forgery of bank documents, bribery and corruption against Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep (SNUD), Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) and their officials.

“After dqiscrete investigation, a prima facie case was made, culminating into the charge against the defendants now pending before this honourable court.

“Apart from the instant charge most of the defendants herein, have two other criminal charges filed against them by the complainant/applicant at the Federal High Court, with charge numbers: FHC/ABJ/CR/39/l7 and FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016, respectively.

“The arraignment of the defendants in this case couldn’t take place because 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th defendents/respondente are at large and have refused to make themselves available.

“All efforts to apprehend the fleeing defendants/respondents proved abortive.

“In furtherance of efforts to apprehend the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th defendants/respondents, the EFCC contacted the Nigeria Police to assist in watch-listing them and facilitating their arrest and apprehension.

“The Nigeria Police, in response, requested for detailed particulars and processes to enable them liaise with N’I’ERPOL and apprehend the fleeing defendants.

“The Nigeria Police and the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and other relevant sister organisations have insisted that in addition to having a pending charge before a competent court, there must be warrants of arrest to enable the organisation to apprehend the defendants

“Granting this application will facilitate the required liaison with INTERPOL and ensure that the defendants/respondents are apprehended and produced before the court for their arraignment on the charges filed against them.”

In swift reaction to the court order, Adoke said the anti-graft agency erred by holding him personally liable for carrying out a lawful directive fromt he President.

The former AGF said he will challenge the order citing and earlier order granted by the Federal High COurt, Abuja in 2017.

His counsel, Msssrs Gromyko Amedu Solicitors said: “In view of this development, and the fact that the EFCC has refused to abide by this time-tested traditions of prosecution agencies, our client is left with no other option to challenge the unlawful order.”

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