A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday denied issuing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) an arrest warrant against former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN).
The court presided over by Justice John Tsoho, however suggested that the EFCC employed its “coercive powers under the law” to arrest Adoke and other defendants in the Malabu oil deal scandal to answer the charges pending against them.
Justice Tsoho’s position was sequel to EFCC counsel, Jonson Ojogbane, request for direction when two of the three charges the commission filed in relation to the Malabu Oil deal were mentioned.
Ojogbane had told the trial judge, “We are yet to serve the defendants in this case. We have been unable to serve them, particularly, the first defendant (Adoke). We are told he is outside the country.
“I will appreciate if my lord can guide me. I actually want to make an application for arrest warrant against defendants.”
He further said, citing Section 35 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), “My lord, I wish to be guided about the procedure. I want to know if I can apply orally or file a motion.”
Responding, Justice Tsoho said, “You can’t apply orally. My understanding of the law is that until you arraign anybody, you cannot make an order of arrest against the person.
“If a defendant has been arraigned and he is not coming for trial, the court can issue arrest warrant against such person.
“The prosecution can use its coercive powers under the law to arrest a defendant to answer to the charges pending against them.”
Adoke is facing two separate criminal charges, following his alleged involvement in oil bloc fraud. He was said to have played a key role in “a fraudulent deal” that saw the transfer of ownership of a disputed Oil Prospecting License, OPL, 245, to two multinational oil companies, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company and Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd.
Other defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016, were Etete and Aliyu, as well as six firms- Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Development Company Ltd, Group Construction Ltd and MegaTech Engineering Ltd.
Besides Adoke, Etete and Aliyu, other defendants in the second three-count charge marked CR/124/17 and dated February 28, were Shell Nigeria Exploration production Company Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, ENI SPA, four Italians, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafati Sebestiano and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd.