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Court discharges, acquits Mohammed Adoke in OPL 245 trial

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Court discharges, acquits Mohammed Adoke in OPL 245 trial

An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Abubakar Kutigi, has dismissed the charges of fraud, bribery and conspiracy filed against Mohammed Bello Adoke, a former attorney-general of the federation, by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ruling on the “no case” submission made by Adoke, Kutigi held that the EFCC failed to prove its charges of fraud, bribery and money laundering and ruled that the defendant has no case to answer.

He, therefore, discharged and acquitted the former minister on all counts, noting that the allegation of illegal tax waivers granted to Shell and Eni was not corroborated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) or any authority.

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On the alleged N300 million bribe said to have been given to Adoke by Aliyu Abubakar, the court ruled that the EFCC did not provide the necessary evidence to prove its case.

Nigeria has now lost virtually all the OPL 245 cases it filed or joined in Italy, the UK and Nigeria.

The EFCC had earlier conceded that it did not have sufficient evidence to oppose the no case application by Adoke, who was listed as first defendant — although it insisted that Rasky Gbinigie had a case to answer over the alleged forgery of company documents to remove the name of Mohammed Abacha as a director of Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd.

The EFCC had charged Adoke before the FCT high court, Abuja, on January 15, 2020, along with Aliyu Abubakar, Gbinije of Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd, Shell Ultra Deep Nigeria Ltd, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Ltd (SNEPCo).

Adoke was accused of collecting a gratification of N300 million from Abubakar over the OPL 245 resolution.

He was accused of conspiring with other defendants to “commit the offence of public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to cause injury or to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture”.

The former AGF was accused of “knowingly disobeying direction of law” by allegedly “saving Shell Nigeria Ultra-Deep Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Company Limited from charges of taxes”.

Adoke denied all allegations, maintaining that he was a victim of political victimisation by former president Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of the Abacha family who felt cheated in the OPL 245 transaction.

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