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Nigeria: Malabu – EFCC Queries Prosecutor for Declaring No Proof of Wrongdoing In opposition to Adoke, Others

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EFCC, in a press release shared with PREMIUM TIMES, says it has not surrendered in regards to the Malabu case.

The Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC) says it has issued a question to its prosecutor who declared a scarcity of proof to safe the conviction of key defendants dealing with trial within the Malabu case.

Offem Uket had conceded the prosecution’s lack of proof in a submitting submitted to the court docket final December. He made the turnaround within the case after calling 10 prosecution witnesses in a trial that had lasted nearly 4 years.

However the EFCC, in a press release shared with PREMIUM TIMES, mentioned Mr Uket made the main concession on his personal with out the fee’s approval.

“The reality of the matter is that the prosecution counsel, Offem Uket, that submitted that the EFCC lacked ample proof to efficiently prosecute six of the seven defendants standing trial within the case, was on a frolic of his personal and has since been queried by the fee,” learn partly the assertion.

The assertion was responding to PREMIUM TIMES’ reporting of the 12 January listening to of the case on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Excessive Court docket in Abuja.

It alleged that this newspaper slanted its lawyer’s request for an adjournment of proceedings within the case to painting “EFCC as a determined company of presidency attempting to find proof within the trial of all of the defendants implicated within the OPL 245 oil block awarded to Malabu Oil and Gasoline Restricted in 1998.”

The assertion mentioned its lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who appeared for the prosecution on the continuing, solely “sought the adjournment for him to sufficiently handle the court docket having been instructed to take over the case owing to some developments within the matter the EFCC discovered disconcerting.”

The trial revolves round allegations of bribery and defrauding of the Nigerian authorities in a $1.1 billion transaction in regards to the profitable OPL 245 oil block. The oil block was first awarded to the Malabu Oil and Gasoline Restricted beneath controversial circumstances in 1998, setting off decades-long convoluted possession battles, wherein, prosecutors mentioned, the Nigerian authorities was shortchanged.

Among the many principal defendants within the case is a former Lawyer Common of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, who was accused of being influenced by bribes to facilitate the $1.1 billion deal for the switch of the oil block from Malabu to 2 oil giants -Eni and Shell in 2011.

Different prime defendants are the Nigerian subsidiaries of the oil giants – Nigeria Agip Exploration Restricted, Shell Nigeria Additional Deep Restricted and Shell Nigeria Exploration Manufacturing Firm Restricted.

They’re charged alongside Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie in addition to Malabu Oil and Gasoline Restricted.

The prosecution closed its case after calling its tenth witness in October, prompting the defendants to file their separate no-case submissions, calling on the court docket to finish the trial with out the case continuing to the defence stage. Their cause was that the EFCC, with its 10 prosecution witnesses, failed to guide credible proof linking them to the offences alleged within the 40 counts filed within the case.

Responding to Mr Adoke’s no-case submission, Mr Uket conceded in a submitting in December that no incriminating proof was led in opposition to the defendants besides Mr Gbinigie, who faces 35 of the 40 expenses.

The court docket mounted 12 January for a listening to on the no-case submission.

‘Rescue mission’

However in a transfer to rescue the case, the EFCC despatched certainly one of its senior legal professionals, Sylvanus Tahir, to court docket on 12 January to induce the decide to defer the adoption of arguments on the no-case submission and grant a “quick adjournment” of the case.

Mr Tahir, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), agreed that the sitting was for the adoption of the written arguments of events on the no-case submission filed by the defendants, however pleaded with the decide to postpone the listening to to allow the federal government to overview the case.

Different defence legal professionals opposed the applying for adjournment, insisting that it will be unfair to grant the prosecution’s request after events had exchanged filings on the defendants’ no-case submission.

The decide, Idris Kutigi, agreed with the defendants and refused to grant the adjournment requested. He ordered events to proceed to handle him on the no-case submission. After the arguments, the decide mounted 29 February for ruling, which might determine whether or not to finish the case or direct the defendants or a part of them to open their defence.

‘No give up’

However responding to PREMIUM TIMES reporting of the continuing, the EFCC mentioned, in a press release despatched to this newspaper on 17 January, that it “has not ‘surrendered’ in any method in regards to the Malabu case.”

It acknowledged: “The Government Chairman by no means instructed Uket to throw within the towel within the matter. He assumed workplace a few months in the past and had not been briefed on what Uket got here to the court docket with. As a Chief Government, it’s merely preposterous to be portrayed in dangerous mild over a matter he had not addressed. The Fee is awaiting the ruling of His Lordship on the matter. The general public has a proper to be correctly knowledgeable concerning the place of the EFCC and its management on this subject. There isn’t a compromise of any type wherever and there will not be at any time.”

The fee mentioned the crux of the matter was his lawyer falling by the wayside after calling 10 witnesses in a case that had lasted nearly 4 years. It added that it was the “thriller” unfolding within the case which PREMIUM TIMES ought to have dug deeper into.

Learn EFCC’s rebuttal in full beneath:

Re: Malabu: Court docket Refuses to Droop Trial for EFCC to Hunt Recent Proof

By Dele Oyewale

Premium Occasions’ story of January 14, 2024, on the applying of EFCC’s counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, for an adjournment, within the Malabu case earlier than Justice Idris Kutigi of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Excessive Court docket, Abuja, is stunning. The story, which may greatest be described as jaundiced and shorn of the finesse of goal reporting, was slanted to painting the EFCC as a determined Company of presidency attempting to find proof within the trial of all of the defendants implicated within the OPL 245 oil block awarded to Malabu Oil and Gasoline Restricted in 1998.

The reporter, searching for methods and technique of denigrating the Government Chairman of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, insinuated that he directed the Fee’s counsel to declare the federal government’s pursuits within the case to safe an adjournment. An adjournment, in any matter, might be sought by a counsel if there are justifiable grounds for it. On this explicit matter, Tahir solely sought the adjournment for him to sufficiently handle the court docket having been instructed to take over the case owing to some developments within the matter the EFCC discovered disconcerting. Apart from, Premium Occasions had earlier reported that “EFCC Surrenders, says no proof of wrongdoing in opposition to Adoke, others”, with out digging deeper into the whys and wherefores of developments within the case.