The Federal Government on Thursday said it was finding it hard to extradite the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, back to Nigeria to face trial over his alleged role in the $1.3 billion Malabu oil fraud.
It told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the process the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), initiated for the former AGF to be arrested by the Interpol and forced back to the country for prosecution, has not yielded any result.
The Federal Government lamented that some of the major culprits in the alleged fraud quickly fled the country upon the inception of the present administration and had since remained at large.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Johnson Ojogbane told the court that process for extradition of all the runaway suspects had become “very cumbersome”.
Consequently, Ojogbane persuaded the court to grant it a long adjournment to enable it to conclude process for the arrest and extradition of Adoke and other defendants in two sets of criminal charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016 and FHC/ABJ/CR/124/17.
Based on the application, trial judge, Justice John Tsoho deferred arraignment of the defendants till June 18.
EFCC had in the charges, alleged that Adoke who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan, played 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, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd.
OPL 245 is regarded as one of the richest oil blocs in Africa. It was initially awarded to Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd in 1998 by late military head of state, General Sani Abacha, in a process the EFCC insisted was against all known government regulations.
EFCC told the court that investigations revealed that Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd secured OPL 245 through fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company and some government officials.
Other defendants in the nine-count criminal charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016, are a former Minister of Petroleum under Abacha, Chief Dan Etete, an oil mogul, Aliyu Abubakar, 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.
Similarly, aside 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.
The Federal Government had earlier told the court that it was collaborating with international security agencies to arrest Adoke who has remained outside the country since he vacated office.
It predicated moves to arrest Adoke on his alleged repeated refusal to surrender himself to the EFCC.
The court had on three successive dates also adjourned the matter over inability of the prosecution to produce any of the defendants for trial.