The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Monday, fixed Thursday for ruling on the bail applications filed by a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, and two of his co-defendants charged with offences bordering on the controversial Malabu Oil scam.
Justice Abubakar Idris had earlier on January 23, 2020, ordered the remand of the three defendants in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after they pleaded not guilty to the 42 counts preferred against them by the commission.
The judge heard the separate bail applications filed by the three of the seven defendants named as defendants in the charges, before fixing Thursday for a ruling.
The three defendants are Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar, who was accused of offering N300m gratification to the ex-AGF in relation to the Malabu Oil deal, as well as a former company secretary and legal adviser of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Rasky Gbinigie.
The rest of the defendants alongside whom they were charged are corporate bodies including Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.
The corporate bodies did not have to file any bail application.
Adoke was represented by Chief Ozekhome, SAN, and the two others represented by their lawyers, at the hearing of the bail application on Monday.
Ozekhome urged the court to grant his client bail under self-recognition as a former AGF.
He told the court that Adoke returned to the country voluntarily to prove his innocence.
The other lawyers representing the two other defendants – Aliyu Abubakar and Rasky Gbinigie, pleaded with the court to grant their clients bail in liberal terms.
The prosecuting counsel, Bala Sanga, opposed the bail applications filed by the three defendants.
Sanga faulted Ozekhome’s claim that Adoke returned to Nigeria voluntarily, adding that the ex-AGF was arrested through the assistance of the International Police Organisation.
He added that Abubakar breached the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the anti-graft commission.
The Malabu scam involving $1.1bn involved the alleged fraudulent transfer of the highly lucrative Oil Prospecting Lease 245 to Malabu in 1998 and subsequently to Agip and Shell.
The EFCC alleged that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, in the regime of the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, who was alleged to be involved in the fraudulent transfer of the oil block to Malabu in 1998 and in which he later emerged as one of the firm’s director, was said to be at large.
The commission accused Adoke as AGF of playing a pivotal role and receiving N300m bribe to facilitate a fraudulent deal between Malabu and Shell with Agip over the oil block.
Other charges involve alleged forgery of Corporate Affairs Commission documents concerning Malabu to implement a shady change of ownership and shares allotment structures of the firm.
The defendants denied all the charges when read to them on Thursday.
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