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OPL 245 Case: Nigeria’s Lawyer Contradicted FGN Officials In Italian Court

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OPL 245 Case: Nigeria’s Lawyer Contradicted FGN Officials In Italian Court

By Mr. Mohammed Bello

It will be recalled that on 6th July 2020, I drew the attention of the public through my Solicitor, Mr.
Femi Oboro, to the deliberate and malicious falsehoods contained in the statements made by the Milan Prosecutor in the ongoing proceedings against Shell and Eni and other named individuals before the Milan Court in Italy over the OPL 245 transaction.

Although I am not a party to the proceedings, I have followed with keen interest to ensure that no adverse findings of criminal misconduct are made against my person.
However, in his submission before the Court on the 9th of September, 2020, Mr. Lucio Lucia, while representing the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria as the injured party entitled to civil compensation, had allegedly “reaffirmed the indictment of Mr. Adoke and others in the heist” in connection with the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement. Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time that my official role as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in the implementation of OPL 245 Settlement Agreement has been the subject of judicial pronouncement by the Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice BFN Nyako.
The Court stated amongst other things that:
“1. The involvement of the Plaintiff Mr Adoke in the negotiations leading to the implementation of a Settlement Agreement dated 30th November 2006 between Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and the
Federal Government of Nigeria and the eventual execution of Block 245 Malabu Resolution
Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers;

  1. The involvement of the Plaintiff in the negotiation and eventual execution of the Block 245 SNUD resolution Agreement dated 29th April 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Shell Nigerian Ultra Deep and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited was in furtherance of the lawful directives/approval of the President in the exercise of his executive powers, and;
  2. The Plaintiff cannot be held personally liable for carrying out the lawful/approvals of the President while he served as a Minister of the Government of the Federation.”

  3. It is apposite to note that apart from the above judicial pronouncement, the OPL 245 Resolution
    Agreements have been the subject of review by two cabinet Ministers in the present administration. First, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, in his capacity as the Attorney-General of the Federation, issued a legal opinion to the Ag. Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, dated 20th September 2017, wherein he stated that he had reviewed the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements and was unable to find any evidence of wrongdoing pn my part.
    Secondly, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his capacity as the Hon. Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum
    Resources, also reviewed the OPL 245 Resolution Agreements and in his letter to the Chief of Staff to the President, dated 13th December 2017, came to the reasoned conclusion that the agreements were in the national interest.
    In the light of the above, it is clear that Mr. Lucio Lucia cannot assert on behalf of the same Federal Government of Nigeria a position that is contrary to the unassailable declarations in the subsisting judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, and the views already expressed by the sitting AttorneyGeneral of the Federation and the former Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
    Mr. Lucio Lucia also lied to the court that I was extradited from Dubai for corruption related to OPL 245, knowing fully that nothing of sort ever happened. The records are there with INTERPOL that I voluntarily decided to return to Nigeria. The Nigerian Government could not proceed with extradition processes against me because the International Warrant of Arrest they wanted to use against me had been vacated by the same Nigerian court that granted it.
    Mr. Lucio Lucia, with defamatory audacity, also carelessly reconstructed the evidence on my Mortgage transaction with Unity Bank to suit his narrative. This is a subject of criminal proceedings in Nigeria and, for now, I will not be able to comment against the twisting and manipulation of the facts of the failed mortgage transaction because it will be subjudicial.
    Finally, while I am not adverse to the Federal Government claims before the Milan Court, I am concerned that Mr. Lucio Lucia has been allowed to present to the Court deliberate false statements against me in support of Federal Government’s case. I am still in possession of copies of letters by Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his capacity as the Hon. Minister of State, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, clearing me of any misconduct or misdeed in the OPL 245 transaction. There is also a subsisting court judgment that cleared me of any personal liability in carrying out a presidential order.
    l, therefore, call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to debrief Mr. Lucio Lucia for his embarrassing conduct, deliberate falsehood and dishonesty in a Court of Law.
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Court orders Fidelity Bank, BNSG to pay N1.4b to staff of defunct Taraku mills Ltd

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Court orders Fidelity Bank, BNSG to pay N1.4b to staff of defunct Taraku mills Ltd

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, has ordered Fidelity Bank and the Benue State Government to pay the sum of N1.4 billion Naira to one Aondohemba Agba Injo and 210 others over unpaid claims of the creditors who are staff of the defunct Taraku Mills Limited.

The court also issued a Writ or execution against the garnished /Respondent thereafter, by directing the Deputy Sherriff of the court to seal the Banks branches in Abuja, Lafia, Makurdi and any others in Nigeria for the purpose of enforcing the judgment of the  court.

The two major branches of the bank in Abuja situated in the Business Central Area and Maitama were consequently sealed up this afternoon.

Honorable Justice R. B Haastrup who delivered the judgment on the 19th of November 2020 in a suit no NICN/ABJ/241M/2020 said, “I have  carefully perused through the processes filed by the judgment creditors /Applicants herein and have also listened to the oral submissions of counsel in respect thereto vis-a-vis the authorities cited in support thereof.
“The rules of this court as stated by the Applicant’s  counsel are indeed clear on the requirements for the issuance of the Writ of execution as embodied in Order 49 Rules 3 and 6, which the Applicants herein has compiled with”.

While the seal up of Fidelity Bank was executed in some of its branches in Abuja, a top bank manager said the process of paying off the debts has begun.

One of the Creditors, Aondohemba Agba Injo and their team of lawyers yesterday who besieged the bank premises told our reporter that,” they have showed us bank drafts to show that they are processing the payments but what we don’t know is if it’s a gimmick because they promised to compete it in three hours but it’s well past three hours now but we are still here and waiting”.

Sources however told our correspondent that while the bank is slow in rounding up the process was to buy time while they explore possibilities of obtaining a stay of execution order from the Supreme court.

But  a lawyer, Barrister A Usha told our reporter that cases of such nature terminates at the Industrial court of Appeal.

It was also gathered that the Benue State Government was mounting pressure on  the officials of the Industrial Court of Appeal to illegally unseal the banks premises against a lawful order.

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Ex-Kogi lawmaker challenges lawyers on own ethics, wants Kogi nominee for SAN award delisted

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Ex-Kogi lawmaker challenges lawyers on own ethics, wants Kogi nominee for SAN award delisted

Former member representing Igalamela/Odolu State Constituency and Chairman of Public Accounts Committee in Kogi State House of Assembly,  Hon.  Friday Sani Makama on Friday filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court, Abuja against the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, (LPPC) for accepting the nomination of Barrister Abdul Wahab Mohammed for the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). 

The nominee from Kogi for the 2020 SAN title is the immediate younger brother of Kogi State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mohammed Sani Ibrahim. 

The ex-lawmaker is seeking to stop the Committee from going ahead with conferment of the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), on the nominee whom he said he earlier petition the Committee against but was ignored. 

On why he was seeking legal means to stop the nominee,  he said, Barrister Mohammed being the younger brother of Kogi State Attorney-General handles all legal cases on behalf of Kogi State using the privilege of his elder brother,Mohammed Sani Ibrahim who is the Commissioner for Justice when other very senior lawyers abound in Kogi State

Makama who was a Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) lawmaker, was suspended from the House under controversial circumstances in 2018 for which he sued the State.
The appellate and Supreme Court judgement were in his favour to be recalled and have all his entitlements paid.
He however said that Kogi State was yet to comply with the court decision two years after the judgement. 

According to him,  the nominee who was Kogi State prosecutor in his case, filed a frivolous application against the Supreme Court judgement that was in his favour which earned him a penalty for breaching the ethics of legal profession. 

He said “frivolous application” is a fundamental breach that disqualifies any applicant for the conferment of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
He therefore demanded that the LPPC respect their own laws by expunging Kogi nominee from the 2020 SAN Aaward. 

“You may recall that, I  instituted a lawsuit  against the State government in 2018 over non payment of my salaries and allowances while I  was serving in the State House of Assembly in Kogi State.

“Though,  the State government claimed to have stopped payment of my salaries and allowances on the basis of the fact that I was suspended by the House of Assembly.  I won them in Courts.          

“Although in 2018 the Supreme court gave a meritorious judgement allowing the appeal with the order that, the State government should pay me all my salaries and allowances, emolument and monies due to me within the period of my tenure as a sitting member of the Kogi State House of Assembly and allow me resume my legislative duties fourthwith. 

“Ever since then,  the nominee Abdul Wahab continued to file frivolous application to fraustrate the judgement of the  supreme court in 2019. 

“The Supreme Court dismissed Abdul Wahab’s application which was asking Supreme Court to reverse itself in the ealier judgement given to me on 19th December, 2020. 
“The Supreme Court dismissed and discribed Barrister Abdul Wahab’s application as frivolous and vexatious. 
According to him,  the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee ought to have looked at the merit of his petition against the nominee adding that the manner they were going about it raises suspicion.

No date has yet been fixed for further proceeding.

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Solicitor general says N2b proposal for prosecution of BH, others is inadequate

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Solicitor general says N2b proposal for prosecution of BH, others is inadequate

The Solicitor general of the federation of the Federation, Dayo Akpata on Monday told the Senate that the N2bn provision for prosecution of Boko Haram fighters and other offenders is inadequate for diligent prosecution of such cases across the country.

Mr. Akpata gave the indication yesterday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Right to defend the 2021 provisions.

Senate Spokesman and member of the committee, Senator Basiru Surajudeen had enquired on the provision of N2b for prosecution while there are similar proposal for the sum N350m and N380m.
Basiru in his interrogation said “We need to know how much is being projected for civil litigation, how much is being projected for prisons decongestion all other items in that regards.

The third observation has to do with what can be divided from the sum of about N2bn for designated items under overhead cost and some of the items listed under capital expenditure’

“If you look at the the description of the expenditure on page 4, there is also the provision of N350m for criminal justice interim committee  what is the relationship of that N350m budget and the projected sum under legal services in the overhead cost proposal.

“The same thing also goes on the prison decongestion if you also look at the capital proposal, the sum of  N380m was allotted for prosecution of prisons inmates and decongestion of correctional centres nationwide.

“How much of that was budget from the sum of N2bn for legal services,  Also the aspect judicial service and  centralization of judicial services  reforms “

The Solicitor general of the federation in his response explained that the sum of N2bn is inferior to the amount of money needed to prosecute cases in different courts across Nigeria.

He said the ministry has saved the federal government about N600bn  from its decision to utilize solicitors internally as against hiring external lawyers to prosecute cases, besides the monetary benefits, the said it also birthed other benefits for the ministry manpower.

“On the issue of N2bn which is being proposed to pay ministries for legal services if you look at page four, we have already stated that it is going to be used for civil litigation. 

“Let me first of all explain what are the constraints of the attorney general.

“Since 2015 sir, the office of the Attorney general of the Federation, that is, the chambers has been doing almost all the cases inside without going out for external solicitors and that alone has actually done three things for the government of Nigeria.

“Capacity building for the officers of which am also a benefiting from the second is reducing to the bearest minimum, the amount of money the federal government ought to have paid.

“For example there is a case in Enugu which the Federal government has N50m and that case will just require to send two layers to do the case, if we are looking at the two billion it cannot be compared with what we are saving from government.

“We have saved over N600bn because we now do cases in house. So part of this N2bn is essentially  to get the lawyers to attend to all the cases which are spread around the 36 states of this country and in all the courts.

“On the issue of Prison decongestion, I will come to that. The trial and prosecution of Boko Haram, you will recall that last year, we have to create a jurisdiction, a division in Kaiji Dam in which some inmates  were prosecuted.

“How do you prosecute 3000, in a place, we have to bring four judges from the federal high court, we have to pay the legal aids, we had to pay a lot of fees, so, having done that N3bn is a tip of the Iceberg of what it is intended to do.

“Recently in Maiduguri in Borno, there is a camp there, which we are going to do another prosecution , how do you prosecute all these, these are all the things the N2bn is going to do.

“When you now look at the specific activities on the N2bn are separate and distinct description which we are doing.”

Chairman of the committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele in his response to journalists after the session said it does not matter what is proposed by the ministry, the legislature would review these proposal to what it feels is right in view of the present reality.

He also pointed out that while doing this, the Senate will not ignore the peculiarity of the security challenge which has made extra-budgetary expenditure common in the judiciary, military and other areas of governance.

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