By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
LAGOS — Former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke has disclosed how he came under pressure to disqualify President Muhammadu Buhari from the 2015 election upon claims the then All Progressives Congress, APC presidential candidate was guilty of certificate forgery.
Adoke now on exile from the country in a lengthy interview has also disclosed how former President Goodluck Jonathan was denied access into the Presidential Lounge at the Abuja airport within two hours of handing over power on May 29, 2015. He said the incident gave him apprehension of more humiliation for him.
In an interview with online newspaper, The Cable, Adoke who served for five years as attorney-general also disclosed that a man who served as a proxy of former Vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, and also claimed to be close to the incumbent Vice-president, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo and vowed to humiliate him for refusing to cut a deal with him over the controversial Malabu deal.
Mr. Adoke who gave a detailed analysis of the Malabu deal said he never cut a deal but was under tremendous pressure from some people claiming to act for former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar and the Abacha family over the matter.
Adoke in the interview also claimed that his problems could have been compounded by his decision while in office to curb the perceived excesses of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the alleged vow by a son of former Head of State, Mohammed Abacha to deal with him for not pushing through the family’s interest in the Malabu deal.
Contacted on phone last night, Atiku’s spokesman, Mr. Paul Ibe said:
“Atiku has no interest in Malabu OPL 245, and so could not have possibly given anyone mandate to secure a non-existent interest.”
Pressure on me to axe Buhari, says Adoke
Adoke who claims to be living off friends in exile in his narration on how he was brought under pressure to prosecute Buhari for certificate forgery said:
“It is true that some people came to me and said Buhari should be disqualified because of certificate forgery.
“There was pressure to issue a fiat to charge him to court for forgery. But I made my position very clear that I could not see any forgery at all. The law did not require you to submit any certificate to INEC and Buhari did not submit any certificate. The law only said you must have a minimum qualification of so, so, and so. Therefore, where was the forgery? If he didn’t submit a certificate, where was forgery? There is no police report, no investigation.
“No responsible attorney-general will issue any such fiat based on the record before me. But I could have been reckless if I wanted to be reckless. I could have been irresponsible if I wanted to be irresponsible. I could have issued the fiat. There could have been mayhem. There could have been destruction. That could have led to the postponement of the elections. I know what attorneys-general have done in the past, not minding the consequences for the polity. I know what they are capable of doing. But I am a constitutional purist.
“When they mooted the idea of an interim government, I was the one that came out to say the concept of interim government is unknown to law. People told President Jonathan that I was disloyal, that I was working for Buhari.”
How Jonathan was shut out of Presidential Lounge
On how the refusal to allow President Jonathan into the Presidential Lounge at the airport frightened him, he said:
“I went to the airport in company of the former vice-president. President Jonathan was to hand over and meet us at the airport. While we were there, an incident happened that showed me that yes, something was amiss. The holding room where the president sits until the plane is ready to ferry him, when President Jonathan came, the boy that was supposed to open the place for him had already disappeared. Nobody opened that place for us. It was a hostile environment. We were less than two, three hours out of office! I was very downcast and disappointed.
“When President Jonathan left, I went home. Then I met this same security officer. He said: “Sir, I beg of you, please leave tonight.” I said to myself, well, God is speaking to me. So I took my bag, went to the airport and bought a Lufthansa ticket and left Nigeria to go for a well-deserved holiday.
EFCC after me on OPL 245
“I came back to Nigeria to pick up my things to prepare for my LL.M programme, which was to commence on the 20th of August. It was while I was there that I got a call that EFCC wanted me for questioning over OPL 245. I found it very curious and funny. I found it suspicious. I felt if they wanted information the first thing to do was to approach the sitting attorney-general since government is a continuum. They should normally say to the attorney-general, we are investigating this issue, please furnish us with documents and information on this and that. More so, I had previously written, unsolicited to the EFCC, and they had expressed satisfaction with the way the transaction was handled. Being a law-abiding citizen, I got my lawyers to write to EFCC that I was preparing for my examination and that I would not be able to honour their invitation. I promised to come in on the 28th of December, 2015 to honour their invitation.
“Then one of my friends, I won’t mention his name, said he got a call from somebody saying they knew he was my good friend, that he should talk to me to “settle” them, if not I would have serious problems. My friend said he started laughing. He called me and told me, and I said he should not worry, that I had done nothing wrong and I had no money to give to anybody. But that put me on the alert. Then on the 21st of December, I finished my examination. I told all my children that they should not go to Nigeria yet, that we should meet up in Dubai and have a good family Christmas we had not had in a long while. Then I would be proceeding to Nigeria to honour an invitation and that I was sure by first or second of January, I would be back for my studies. That was my mindset. I booked my ticket to be in Nigeria on the 27th of December.
“So while I was in Dubai, I kept on getting calls telling me there was a plan to humiliate me. I laughed it off. I still did not take it seriously. I prepared to go on the 27th. I never thought that what they were telling me could happen in Nigeria. I said we are running a constitutional democracy. I knew it could happen under a military regime, but not under a democracy.
“On the 26th, in the evening, my son showed me a news flash that said ‘former AGF Adoke to honour EFCC invitation on December 28, to be arrested, detained and charged to court’. My children said, Daddy you are not going back to Nigeria in view of these revelations. That was how I changed my mind. A friend of mine whom I had earlier sent to them said they kept calling him to say, is he coming? He tried to convince me, and I almost changed my mind, but he too had a change of mind and advised me not to come.
“Then something significant happened. The PA to the solicitor-general/PS at the Ministry of Justice, by the name Shehu Bida, passed a message to me that there was a plan to disgrace me over this Malabu issue, but somebody was requesting that if I paid $3 million to them, then they would take me to see a certain big woman in the villa, they would take me to see the vice-president, they would take me round and then the matter would die down. I said where would I get that kind of money? Then he said, in Hausa, that no matter how small, I should find something. I was accused of taking $2.2 million bribe and I was to kill the case with $3 million! Isn’t that ridiculous?
How I met Osinbajo in Dubai
“Before then, I almost forgot, on the 27th of December, I was in a Dubai hotel when Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, walked in. I couldn’t believe my luck. I greeted him and he received me very warmly. He was extremely pleasant to me. I told him I had been hoping to see him. I asked for an appointment. He asked his ADC to sort it out. I used the opportunity to prepare a detailed brief for him. I had been told that the Milan investigators already came to see the President over the Malabu issue and the President passed the papers to the VP.
“Incidentally, I never heard from the vice-president again. I did not return to Nigeria because I had even been told that an operative had been planted in my house that was to inform EFCC as soon as I landed. Some operatives were waiting at the airport. I was not to be allowed to come into my house if I came through the normal route. I was to be whisked away and taken to detention. But if I came by some other route, the operative was to inform them I was home so that they could come and grab me with a lot of media sensation. All these pieces of information made me conclude that this is not a normal situation. And in an abnormal situation, you cannot take a normal decision. The world should hear your own side of the story even if you are going to die. It is not about dying. It is about documenting history. There were lots of attacks on me in the media, all kinds of lies and tales from EFCC.
Why Abachas are after me
“I’m not running away from Nigeria. I served in one of the highest positions in the country and I gave my best. I am 54 now. I have no other country but Nigeria. The Abacha family has every reason to fight me. It is beyond OPL 245. It was just an excuse for them. The truth is that we made so many recoveries from the Abacha family. Most of the recoveries being brandished today were products of my efforts as AGF working in conjunction with the office of the National Security Adviser and our Swiss attorney, Mr. Enrico Monfrini. These were recoveries that we did not repatriate to Nigeria before we left government so that nobody would say we repatriated the money in order to loot. That is why the monies are just being repatriated now.
On how the son of the former head of state came into the picture, he said:
“After this was done, Mohammed Sani Abacha came up from nowhere and one Lawal Abba came up from nowhere and said he was representing the interest of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, that he had a power of attorney, that Atiku had shares in OPL 245, and that when this money is paid, we should make sure that they were also paid for their interest. And I said to them, the Federal Government of Nigeria does not work for individuals. This is a shareholder issue. This is an asset of the company. Why don’t you people call a meeting of the company? If there is no agreement between you people, go to court to find a way out. That was where the problem started for me. It was at that point that AA Umar wrote us a letter saying they represented the interest of one Mohammed Sani, which turned out to be Mohammed Sani Abacha as he has now finally come out to challenge the agreement in the open. He said if the Federal Government does not make sure that they are paid, they would embarrass the Federal Government of Nigeria. I dismissed the threat because I don’t work for them. My loyalty was to Nigeria and I had discharged my responsibility to the best of my knowledge. I had finished my assignment and moved on.”
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