About 24 hours after an FCT high court granted bail to a former justice minister, Mohammed Adoke, the EFCC has not released him from its custody.
The acting spokesperson to the commission, Tony Orilade, told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday that the ex-official is still in detention ”as he has not been able to fulfil his bail conditions”.
”He is still with us because he is yet to fulfil his bail conditions,” Mr Orilade said in a telephone interview.
Mike Ozekhome, who represents the former AGF, told PREMIUM TIMES the defendant had fulfilled all his bail conditions adding that the next step rests with the EFCC.
Mr Adoke was granted bail on Thursday afternoon by Idris Kutigi, a judge at the divisional high court in Gwagwalada, Abuja.
PREMIUM TIMES learned he met the bail conditions by Thursday evening, a few hours after he was released, and the judge signed a warrant for his release, officials familiar with the matter said.
Rather than comply with the order to release Mr Adoke, EFCC officials instead demanded an ‘enroll order’ authorising Mr Adoke’s release, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
‘Enrolment of order’ is an official summary of a court ruling prepared and issued to parties in a case until the full version is available.
The demand infuriated Mr Adoke and his team as they wondered why the EFCC would impose “its own conditions” in a manner that undermined the release warrant that had been duly signed by a judge.
Nonetheless, Mr Adoke’s lawyers returned to court on Friday to obtain the document requested by the EFCC.
They then presented the enroll order and other necessary release documents signed Mr Kutigi on Friday. The registrar for Mr Kutigi’s court also reportedly followed Mr Adoke’s team to the EFCC on Friday to understand why the former AGF was still being held.
Blame the system — Lawyer
Mr Ozekhome narrated the efforts embarked by his legal team to meet the conditions.
He said the lawyers were also able to secure a letter from the court formally telling the EFCC all the bail conditions had been perfected.
According to him, ”before his team was able to secure all the documents requested by the commission, the officers in charge of the matter had already closed.”
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The lawyer, therefore, blamed the ‘system’ and ”the distance between the court and the commission for their inability to arrive ‘on time’.
”He (Adoke) has fulfilled all the bail conditions. When my team of lawyers went yesterday to get him released, the EFCC told them that they needed a certified true copy of the enrolled order for his release, the certified true copy of the ruling and they needed also a formal letter from the court saying that Adoke had perfected all the bail conditions.
”My team then went to the court and all these were done. The court orders were drawn up but they needed the judge to sign the court order and the ruling, but the judge, of course, was sitting over other matters, so my lawyers had to wait until the judge finished sitting.
”The judge then signed the ruling itself and the warrant formally telling the EFCC all the bail conditions had been perfected.
”But by the time my lawyers drove from Gwagwalada, which is quite some distance to the EFCC for the release of Adoke, it was already about quarter past four p.m. before we got there and all the EFCC officials in charge of the matter had already closed for the day.
”So we are now looking forward till tomorrow for his release. The situation is that no one can blame the EFCC or the court. It was just the system, and the distance between Gwagwalada and the city.”
Mr Kutigi, who granted the N50 million bail on Thursday, had also ruled that the former AGF provides one surety who must be resident in Abuja and who must have a landed property in the capital territory.
The second defendant, Abubakar Aliyu, also got bail on the same terms, while the third defendant, Rasky Gbinigie, was granted N10 million bail.
Mr Gbinigie was asked to sign an undertaking not to interfere with the trial or further investigation by the EFCC.
Mr Adoke is accused of fraud by the EFCC. He denies the charge.
PREMIUM TIMES last week reported how the anti-graft agency filed multiple charges against Mr Adoke.
These include a seven-count charge before the Federal High Court in Abuja and a 12-count charge before the FCT High Court. The charges were later amended to 42 from the initial 12.
The charges include money laundering, denying Nigeria taxes and an alleged N300 million bribe.
In the charge before the FCT High court, the EFCC accused Mr Adoke of accepting gratification ”to facilitate and negotiate the OPL 245 resolution agreement with Shell, Eni, and their Nigerian subsidiaries”.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how ”almost half of the $1.1 billion” paid by Shell and Eni in a controversial OPL 245 deal negotiated by Mr Adoke and some officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration ended in accounts controlled by Mr Aliyu.
Malabu, which was illegally awarded OPL 245 when Mr Etete was a minister in 1998, then transferred about half of the money into accounts partly controlled by Mr Aliyu.
The EFCC alleges that Mr Aliyu distributed the money to top officials of Shell and Eni as well as some officials of the Jonathan administration.
The EFCC also alleges Mr Adoke received N300 million from Mr Aliyu in 2013. The agency alleges that was his ‘share’ of the Malabu windfall.
Shell, Eni, and their officials are already being prosecuted in Italy for the scandal.
Mr Adoke has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
He said the actions taken in respect of the transfer of the bloc were based on the instructions of his boss, Mr Jonathan and ”in the best interest of Nigeria”.