Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption group, HEDA Resource Centre, has asked a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, to retract his statement on the fraud associated with OPL 245 or be sued.
In a petition titled, “Defamation of Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju and HEDA Resource Centre,” the group said Adoke in collaboration with some lawyers is resorting to blackmail in order to subvert the lingering investigations of graft associated with OPL 245.
HEDA gave Adoke and his lawyer two weeks to retract the statement of be taken to court in the United Kingdom.
HEDA said Adoke and his legal team are exploiting the “fragile state and weak political environment” to launder a string of campaigns to redeem the image of key actors in the series of financial misdeeds linked to the OPL 245 deal
TheCable had on February 3, 2021, published a statement titled, “Lawyers: E-mail evidence tendered against Adoke in Italy was forged”.
The statement was reported by The Cable to have been issued by the law firm, Gromyco and personally signed by Mr. Femi Obono, acting on behalf of Adoke.
But HEDA on Sunday said, “This is a case of a legal team deliberately distorting facts already accepted globally without blemish. It is unprofessional to describe as forged a document tendered and accepted as a legal document by international law courts just to create a safe passage for suspects.”
HEDA said the accusation that it forged the email in question or any other evidence submitted to the courts in Milan or elsewhere is entirely untrue and highly defamatory.
HEDA said the email came to light after it was disclosed by JP Morgan Chase to Nigeria as a result of proceedings in the High Court in London where the FRN is currently suing the bank for damages relating to its handling of funds arising from Shell and Eni’s acquisition in 2011 of the OPL 245 oil field in Nigeria.
In its claim, Nigeria stated that an email had been sent by Adoke on 21 June, 2011 to Bayo Osolake, employee at JP Morgan Chase, from the email address “[email protected]” and that copies of the Resolution Agreements for the OPL 245 deal were attached to the email. HEDA noted that the Nigerian authorities further stated in court documents that the email address was associated with “the A Group of Nigerian companies controlled by Mr Abubakar Aliyu”, a Group Construction, which is part of the network, subsequently received some of the OPL 245 funds which were transferred by JP Morgan to a company named Malabu Oil & Gas.
“Having become aware of the email, which was believed to be relevant to the prosecution in Milan of Royal Dutch Shell, Eni Spa and others, our partners, acting in the public interest, informed the Milan Prosecutor of the FRN’s statements to the High Court in London.
“The Milan Prosecutor issued a European Investigation Order (Ref:54772/13) to the UK, seeking the email from JP Morgan. The UK authorities complied with the request and obtained the email, which was subsequently transmitted by the UK authorities to the Milan Prosecutor,” HEDA noted.
Neither the HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju nor any other “campaigners” were involved at any stage in the chain of custody, the group said, while warning that the accusation without evidence is libellous.