The federal government has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja seeking guidance on whether to issue an arrest warrant against the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) over his alleged complicity in the $1.1 billion Malabu Oil and Gas transaction.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, counsel to the federal government, Johnson Ojogbane told the court that the FG was experiencing some difficulties serving Adoke since he was outside the jurisdiction of the court.
“I would like to request for a warrant of arrest against the first defendant. I will appreciate if My Lord will guide me because I actually wanted to make an application for a warrant of arrest.
“I also want the court to guide me on whether I can do that orally or come by way of a motion.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has the power to arrest anybody anywhere but when the person is not within the jurisdiction of the court (outside the country), it becomes difficult,” Ojogbane said.
The counsel added that if the order seeking to arrest Adoke was granted, it would make it easier for the EFCC to liaise with the International Police (InterPol) to initiate extradition.
Responding, the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho told the federal government to file a proper application before the court, explaining that such applications are not done orally.
He said if Adoke had already been arraigned before the court and was attempting to escape, it would have been proper to issue a warrant for his arrest.
“Once a person has been arraigned before a court and is attempting to escape, then it becomes necessary to issue a warrant of arrest; but in this case, Adoke has not been arraigned before this court. The matter is still at the investigative stage, so such an order is not necessary,” Justice Tsoho held and adjourned till June 13 for arraignment.
Last December, the EFCC had charged nine suspects, including Adoke, over the sale of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, originally held by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, to Shell and Agip.
Adoke was accused of illegally transferring more than $800m purportedly from the proceeds of the sale of the oil block to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete and Malabu Oil.
The federal government had also on March 2, 2017, filed fresh charges against Shell and Agip over their alleged complicity in the transaction.
Others charged alongside the two oil giants and Adoke were Etete; Aliyu Abubakar, Agip’s Italian parent company, ENI SPA; officials of Shell and Agip; and Malabu Oil and Gas.