By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja has given reasons why the immediate-past Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), could not be held liable for his roles in the Oil Processing Licence OPL 245 transactions.
The trial judge held that Adoke could not be personally held liable for acts done, adding that it was in furtherance of the lawful directives and approvals of his then boss, President Goodluck Jonathan.
She held that the former AGF, in that situation acted as an agent of a disclosed principal.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) brought Adoke before the court on various offences involving his alleged roles in the transactions in which the Federal Government was said to have been defrauded of about $1.8billion.
According to the prosecution agency, the former AGF had roles to play in the transfer of the ownership of the OPL 255 covering a lucrative oil field.
Sequel to this, Adoke in a counter suit marked, FHC/ABJ/94/446/2017 against the incumbent AGF, Abubaka Malami SAN, asking the court praying to be freed of any criminal liability in respect of the transactions.
He therefore, declared his prosecution by the EFCC null and void.
Reacting to the suit, Malami challenging the suit, maintained that it lacked merit.
Delivering judgment in the suit filed by Adoke against Malami, Justice Nyako held that since Adoke only executed the lawful directives of his former boss, then President Goodluck Jonathan, Adoke was free of any liability for his roles in the deal.
However, she resolved all the issues raised for determination in favour of the plaintiff and also dismissed the preliminary objection raised against the suit by the Malami.
She granted four of Adoke’s prayers but refused one which sought a declaration that his prosecution was null and void.
The trial judge noted that contrary to the defendant’s contention that the plaintiff exceeded the directive of the President and in the process committed a crime, Exhibits 19 and 20, which remained uncontradicted and unchallenged, confirmed that the plaintiff actually remained within the confines of the lawful directives given to him by the President and is therefore protected by law.
Exhibits 19 was a letter written by the AGF to the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, to the effect that Adoke had no case to answer in respect of the actions he took pursuant to the directives/approvals of the President in respect to the implementation of OPL 245 Resolution Agreement.
Exhibit 20 was a letter from the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources to the Chief of Staff to the President in response to the latter’s request for advice on the letter by the AGF to the Acting Chairman of the EFCC on OPL 245 Settlement Agreement implemented by the plaintiff, in which the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources agreed with the opinion of the AGF.
Further in her ruling, Justice Nyako said by the provisions of sections 5(1), 147 148 and 150 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the executive powers of the federation were vested in the President and which he could exercise either personally or through any of his appointed Ministers.
“I have carefully studied the provisions of sections 5(1), 147 148 and 150 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“A community reading of sections 5(1), 147(1), 148(1) and 150 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) leaves you in no doubt that the executive powers of the federation, as vested in the President, are exercisable by him directly or through a Minister of the federation.” Nyako held.