By Oladeinde Olawoyin
A former Nigerian Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, has dragged his successor, Abubakar Malami, before a London court over alleged false evidence presented against him in the P&ID case.
In a court filing seen by this newspaper, Mr Adoke is seeking an order for the redaction of certain witness statements attributed to Mr Malami in the P&ID trial.
The P&ID saga became a full-blown crisis for Nigeria last year when a U.K. judge ruled P&ID could enforce an arbitration tribunal’s 2017 ruling, now totaling $9.6 billion including interest, which found the country breached the agreement.
Nigeria’s chances of annulling the giant penalty lie on proving the 2010 gas supply arrangement was a sham designed to fail by P&ID and government officials.
“There is good reason to believe that ministers at the highest level were involved in a corrupt scheme to steal money from Nigeria by entering into the contract which is the subject of this proceedings and failing properly to defend the subsequent arbitral proceedings,” Mr Malami had said in court filings submitted on March 24.
In his fresh application, Mr Adoke re-produced this statement and other claims made by Mr Malami in his application, adding that they amount to “malicious” representation.
Details of the draft order showed that Mr Adoke is seeking for the “redaction of the 4th witness statement of Honorable Abubakar Malami filed on 5th December 2019”. He also requests the Nigerian government, through the attorney-general, to delete “statements in paragraphs 11.4, 23, and 24.4 of the 4th witness statement of Honourable Abubakar Malami filed on 05/12/2019 on behalf of the claimant/respondent in the Arbitration in the manner set out in the schedule thereto.”
The former minister also seeks similar redaction in the 6th witness statement filed by Mr Malami on March 6, particularly in paragraphs 19.3, 105.1, 105.4, 112, 114.2, 114.4, and 115.6.3 on behalf of the claimant.
The former minister also seeks order for cost against the claimant on an indemnity basis.
In presenting the grounds upon which the applications are made, the former minister said the statements are “false, defamatory, scandalous and malicious”, adding that they amount to an abuse of the process of the court.
Mr Adoke also claimed that Mr Malami was aware, at the time he made the statement, that the statements were false as he (Malami) had in his capacity as attorney-general advised the Nigerian president and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that he (Adoke) did not do anything fraudulent in the OPL 245 saga but only carried out the instruction of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr Adoke argued further that the statements were therefore meant to maliciously interfere in the fair hearing of a separate case involving him before a High Court in Abuja.
Mr Adoke further gave an elaborate explanation of his involvement in the P&ID case, adding that there is no direct evidence implicating him in the case.
Earlier in July, Mr Adoke had in a letter written by his lawyer, Paul Erokoro, said Mr Malami had written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to absolve him of any wrongdoing in the OPL 245 transaction.
“In your letter of 20th September, 2017, addressed to the Acting Chairman of EFCC, you had explicitly advised that a review of the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement did not disclose a case against Mr. Adoke,’ the letter read.
“In effect, you had, as Attorney-General, exonerated Mr. Adoke of any wrongdoing in relation to the OPL 245 settlement agreements, contrary to your evidence in the English Court.”
Mr Adoke is, however, being prosecuted by the EFCC for his role in the OPL 245 scandal.
In his witness statement filed at the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, Mr Malami had described Mr Adoke as corrupt, adding that he was “implicated in the OPL 245 case” and played a role in the P&ID arbitration.
In his response at the time, Mr Malami had accused Mr Adoke of peddling falsehood. He also accused Mr Adoke’s lawyer, Mr Erokoro, of conflict of interest.
He said: “Mr Adoke seeks to wash his hands off any involvement in settlement negotiations with P&ID, falsely stating that all settlement negotiations with P&ID took place after he had left office as the-then Attorney General of the Federation. This is simply untrue, as settlement negotiations took place in 2012, 2014, and during Spring 2015 when Mr Adoke was the-then Attorney General of the Federation.
“It is noteworthy that Mr Adoke is being represented by Paul Erokoro SAN. Mr Erokoro SAN has in fact recently provided a sworn witness statement concerning certain factual matters on behalf of P&ID in the proceedings in London (in which he made no mention of the matters which he has raised in his letter). Mr Erokoro is also the lawyer representing Mr James Nolan of P&ID in the criminal proceedings on foot against Mr Nolan in the FRN. It remains to be seen how Mr Erokoro SAN could be seen as impartial and not conflicted, given his various roles closely connecting him with P&ID.”
According to details contained in the new application filed by Mr Adoke, the case is expected to be handled without a hearing by Ross Cranston, a high court judge.