Mr. Mohammed Adoke,
A former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, has denied initiating the non-prosecution deal, which he reached with a company, Tidex Nigeria Limited, suspected to have imported toxin into the country.
Adoke, in a statement issued on Wednesday noted that the deal was initiated by the then Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had directed the EFCC to probe the circumstances surrounding the deal reached by Adoke with Tidex.
The development was prompted by a petition written by an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Max Ogar, who alleged that Adoke as the then AGF in 2011, exempted Tidex, otherwise known as Tidewaters, from prosecution after committing an offence of “importing toxins into the country.”
As part of the agreement, Tidex was to pay $6m into the account of the Federal Government with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Five per cent of the $6m which amounts to $300,000 was to be paid to the Federal Government’s designated lawyer (Obla) as “legal costs and expenses incurred by the Federal Government “in connection with the investigation carried out into the conduct of Tidewater.”
Ogar, who alleged that there were elements of “economic crime” in the deal, wants the EFCC to investigate among others, “what the private citizen did to earn a fee of $300,000 and why didn’t the Solicitor-General of the Federation witness the purported agreement?”
Reacting however, Adoke said on Wednesday that he only signed the deal after the EFCC, under the watch of Waziri, reached an agreement with Tidex.
He also said the lawyer, who represented the Federal Government in the agreement, Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN), was nominated by the EFCC.
He said, “I am constrained to draw attention to the above caption published in The Punch Newspaper of Wednesday, April 27, 2016 to the effect that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, had directed the EFCC to investigate the 2011 Non-Prosecution Agreement executed between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Tidex Nigeria Limited.
“I would ordinarily have refrained from commenting on the issue knowing full well that the circumstances surrounding the execution of all the Non-Prosecution Agreements signed in 2011 are known to relevant agencies of the government, including the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and the EFCC. But, since the aforementioned publication hit the newsstands, I have been inundated with calls from genuinely concerned Nigerian’s seeking to know what is responsible for these deliberate attempts to smear my name and bring me to public odium?
“My answer is simply that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation did not initiate these settlements. It was the EFCC, under the Chairmanship of Chief (Mrs.) Farida Waziri, OON, that initiated these settlements and nominated Mr. Godwin Obla, SAN, as the lawyer to represent their interest in the negotiations that were conducted under the auspices of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. It was when the negotiations were concluded to the satisfaction of all the parties, that I signed on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and Mr. Emmanuel Akomoye (then, Secretary to the EFCC) signed on behalf of the EFCC. The copies of the agreements are in the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and I believe, with the EFCC as well.
“This was the procedure that was adopted in respect of all the settlements that were initiated by the EFCC in 2011, including those of Shell, Saipem, KBR, JGC, among others, that infracted the laws of the country.”
He added that the penal fine of $6m, out of which $300,000 was paid to the government’s lawyer, was duly paid to the Federal Government.
He said, “Consequently, a dispassionate investigation into the Tidex Nigeria Limited Non- Prosecution Agreement would reveal that the settlement was at the behest of the EFCC; the Secretary to the Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, and the EFCC nominated-attorney, Mr. Godwin Obla, SAN, duly represented the EFCC.
“It would also reveal that the penal fines imposed on Tidex Nigeria Limited were duly paid into a Federal Government designated account with the Central Bank of Nigeria and that I did not in any way derive any benefit whatsoever from the transaction.
“While I am concerned, as any reasonable person would, about these negative media releases, I remain calm knowing that the prevailing atmosphere has unwittingly created a fertile ground for a witch-hunt and personal vendetta.
“I am, however, confident that in due time, the dark cloud that bestrode the horizon will disappear and Nigerians will become aware of the truth and be able to make value judgment on all these issues. Nigerians will then differentiate those who genuinely served their fatherland from those who sought public office for personal gain.”