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HEDA maintains stand on Malabu scam, says police report indicting chairman laughable

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The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre has maintained its stand that the police report, which claimed its Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, forged an email in which Nigeria was shortchanged of $1.1 billion, to indict the former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, was false and laughable.

According to HEDA, the accusation aptly illustrates attempts by Adoke in the last seven months to subvert the cause of justice and perfect a get-a-way plan from the Malabu oil heist.

It would be recalled that HEDA and its three other international anti-corruption partners were alleged to have forged an email to link Adoke in the diversion of over $1 billion of Nigeria’s money to a private bank account from the Malabu oil deal.

The organisation had made public an email it said was furnished by the UK authorities in response to a Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request by a Milan Prosecutor (Italy) in the trial of Eni, Shell, and others for international corruption related to the OPL 245 transaction in 2011

According to HEDA, although the defendants in the trial were acquitted, the ruling indicted Adoke who was not on the charge list.

Following the development, the former minister petitioned the police, accusing Suraj and HEDA of circulating fabricated evidence against him to unduly incriminate him in the multi-million dollars scandal.

READ ALSO: Allow EFCC to probe corruption allegations against your Speaker, HEDA tells Lagos Assembly

Specifically, Adoke’s lawyer Kanu Agabi SAN wrote a petition to Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police (IGP) on 5 February 2021 stating: “The individuals who initiated the petition, investigations and the criminal trial at the court of Milan have engaged in acts of forgery of the email document dated 21 June 2011.”

Agabi’s petition, which was officially received by the IGP on 10 February 2021, also stated that “the persons or organisations behind these forgeries are the ones that authored the petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), demanding the investigation of the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement.”

However, while an investigation into the case was still ongoing, a two-page report said to have emanated from the Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit surfaced in some media outlets where it was alleged that Suraj circulated false information about Adoke via his organisation’s social media accounts without verifying its authenticity.

But in a media parley on Wednesday with CSOs in Lagos, to discuss the OPL 245 Oil Deal and recent local development in the matter, Executive Secretary, HEDA, Sulaimon Arigbabu, said, “The email in question was sent by a Mohammed Bello Adoke on 21 June 2011 to JP Morgan Chase bank.

“The allegation that we forged the email is entirely fanciful. Our research confirms that the email is associated with Mr. Aliyu Abubakar and two of his companies that benefited from the OPL 245 deal. If, as claimed by Mr. Adoke SAN, that the email was not sent by him, there is thus a strong likelihood that it emanated from Mr. Aliyu Abubakar or an associate or employee of his company.

“If so, there are strong grounds for suspecting that the email was a cybercrime, involving the impersonation of Mr. Adoke to defraud the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) of funds that should, on the FRN’s account, would have benefited Nigeria.

“The email forms part of a chain of correspondence between JPMC and officials of the administration of former President Jonathan. Ultimately, this correspondence led to JPMC transferring a whopping $801 million to Malabu Oil & Gas – money that should have gone to the Federation Account.

“In court proceedings in the UK, the FRN has described the OPL 245 transaction as “corrupt” and “a conspiracy to injure [Nigeria] by unlawful means by depriving the [FRN] of monies for the grant of OPL245 to which it was lawfully and exclusively entitled.”

Revealing discoveries after a separate investigation by HEDA, Arigbabu said, “Filings registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission reveal that [email protected] has been used as the email address for A Group Construction, a company established on 8 March 2001.

“The CAC filings include a resolution on company headed paper dated 26 September 2011. The email address given for the company is [email protected] This establishes that the address was associated with the company from at least that date.

“A Group Construction is one of six companies known to have received parts of the $801,000,000 transferred by JP Morgan to Malabu Oil & Gas. The company received $157 million. Mr. Aliyu Abubakar was a founding director and shareholder of A Group Construction and still held those roles in 2011 when the email was sent and when the company received monies from the OPL 245 deal.

“Bank documents relating to a First Bank account for Novel Properties and Development Company Ltd also recorded the email [email protected] as the contact email for Aliyu Abubakar. Novel Properties and Development Company Ltd also received money emanating from the OPL 245 deal to the tune of $30 million.”

Meanwhile, Adoke was said to have had a long-standing relationship with Abubakar. In his recently published autobiography titled “Burden of Service”, Mr. Adoke admitted this when he said, “Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, a builder and a developer whom I had been acquainted with for a long time, had earlier approached me with an offer to sell me a house for N500 million.”

Mr. Abubakar, like Mr. Adoke, is currently being prosecuted by the EFCC for alleged money laundering and other charges about the OPL 245 deal in three different cases arising from the investigation of the OPL 245 case (FHC/ABJ/CR/39/2017, FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016, CR/124/17).

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