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High Court Clears Former AGF Mohammed Adoke, 6 Others in Malabu Oil Scandal

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ABUJA, Nigeria – The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Jabi, Abuja, has exonerated Mohammed Adoke, the former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), and six others in connection with the long-standing controversy surrounding Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245, commonly known as the Malabu Oil deal.

Justice Abubakar Kutigi, presiding over the case, ruled on Thursday, March 28, 2024, in favor of the defendants, including businessman Aliyu Abubakar; Rasky Gbinigie; Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited; Shell Nigeria Extra Deep Limited; and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.

They had all faced charges related to fraudulent practices linked to the allocation and exploitation of OPL 245, allegations they consistently denied.

In his ruling, Justice Kutigi accepted the no-case submissions presented by the defendants against the 40-count amended charge, finding that the prosecution had not successfully demonstrated the essential elements of the offenses charged.

Critiquing the prosecution’s approach, the judge remarked that the charge was poorly drafted and executed, advising against the filing of similar charges in the future.

Highlighting the potential for injustice if the case were to proceed, Justice Kutigi underscored that the defendants should never have been tried based on the presented charges, leading to their discharge.

The origins of the controversy date back to April 9, 1998, when the Federal Military Government, then under the leadership of Sani Abacha, awarded OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd., a company reportedly owned primarily by Mohammed Abacha, Sani Abacha’s son, and Dan Etete, who served as the petroleum minister at the time.

The license’s allocation saw multiple reversals over the years, notably when President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked Malabu’s license, awarding the oil block to Shell.

This decision was later contested in court, resulting in Malabu regaining ownership in 2006 following an out-of-court settlement with the Federal Government.

This court ruling marks a pivotal moment in a saga that has captivated public attention and scrutiny over Nigeria’s handling of its valuable oil assets.

The discharge of Adoke and the co-defendants closes a chapter in the legal battles surrounding the Malabu Oil deal, although the broader discussion about governance, transparency, and accountability in Nigeria’s oil sector is likely to continue.

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