Malabu Oil Deal: How Mohammed Adoke’s Absence Stalled Trial

  • Judge Adjourns Case to March 1st

By Abiola Olawale

Mr Mohammed Adoke, a former Nigerian minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) failed to show up at the Federal High Court, Abuja Monday for hearing in a suit filed against him over allegations of corrupt enrichment  in a case popularly known as Malabu Oil deal. The absence of Adoke, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) consequently stalled his trial which was originally scheduled to commence Monday.

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Mr Godwin Kanu Agabi (SAN) who is Adoke’s counsel told the Federal High Court on Monday that Adoke is currently stranded in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) after testing positive to COVID-19, and as a result could not appear in  court as earlier scheduled.

Following Adoke’s absence, Agabi pleaded with the trial Judge for further adjournment of the case to enable his client appear physically in court. Agabi, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation himself told the court that Adoke has tested negative to COVID-19 after testing positive few days ago but couldn’t make it to the court on Monday due flight issues.

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He told the Presiding Judge and the court:” “My Lord, let me apologize to you that the 1st defendant in this matter, Mohammed Bello Adoke, is not in court today due to circumstances beyond his control. I thank this court for granting him permission to travel abroad for medical examination. Before he left this country, he tested negative. But unfortunately while in the UAE, he tested positive at his point of return to Nigeria. However, he is now negative after the treatment but he was unable to get flight to the country. Happily, he will return tomorrow, January 12, 2021”.

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In response to the application, the 2nd defendant (Aliyu Abibakar)’s counsel, Emmanuel Ikechi  subsequently held a brief meeting with Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) over the request.

At the end of their brief meeting, they all agreed that they were not opposed to Agabi’s  application. Also Bala Sanga, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s counsel didn’t oppose the adjournment application as submitted by Agabi.

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Following the consensus reached by all parties in the case, Honorable Justice Ekwo Inyang Edem adjourned the case till March 1, 2021 on the basis that Adoke had been regular in court a.nd was therefore not to be doubted.

It would be recalled that Adoke was granted permission to travel outside the country on medical grounds on 11th of December, 2020, by Justice Ekwo. Adoke’s international passport was released following the judgement and  was consequently  asked to return to the country on/before 10th of January, 2021 for continuation of his on-going trial relating to his alleged involvement in the Malabo Oil scandal.

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Recall also that the ex-AGF and minister of Justice was invited by the EFCC on 28th of December, 2015 for questioning over his alleged connection with  what has become known as the Malabu Oil deal.

The Malabu oil transaction started during the regime of late General Sani Abacha and spanned over a long duration of time, including up to the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan.  It would be further recalled that Adoke who served under Jonathan as AGF and Minster of Justice was consequently invited for questioning over his purported role in  a  missing £22.5million (loot of Abacha )from Malabu oil that was  said to have been recovered from the Island of Jersey.

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Apparently, to get to the root of the subject matter, the EFCC  officially filed a nine count charge against Adoke on the 21st of December, 2016. Adoke is a Nigerian lawyer, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). He was appointed as the AGF and minister of Justice on April 6, 2010 by the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and he served in that capacity up till the end of Jonathan’s administration.

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