Imported toxins: EFCC under Waziri initiated $6m no-trial deal with suspect – Adoke
The immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, said on Wednesday that the non-prosecution deal which he reached with a company, Tidex Nigeria Limited, suspected to have imported toxin into the country was not initiated by him.
He said in a statement on Wednesday that the deal was initiated by the then Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Wednesday that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice , Mr. Abubakar Malami, had directed the EFCC to probe the circumstances surrounding the deal reached by Adoke with Tidex.
The directive by the AGF to the EFCC was informed by a petition written by an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Max Ogar, who alleged that Adoke as the then AGF in 2011, exempted Tidex, otherwise known as Tidewaters, from prosecution after committing an offence of 'importing toxins into the country'.
Attached to Ogar's petition dated April 11, 2016, was a copy of the document, titled, 'Terms of settlement and non-prosecution agreement between the Federal Government and Tidex Nigeria Limited.'
A copy of the non-prosecution agreement, which was obtained by our correspondent along with the petition, was signed by Adoke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria; Godwin Obla, who served as the Federal Government's lawyer, and the representatives of Tidex.
As part of the agreement, Tidex was to pay the sum of $6m into the account of the Federal Government with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Five per cent of the $6m which amounts to $300,000 was to be paid to the Federal Government's designated lawyer (Obla) as 'legal costs and expenses' incurred by the Federal Government 'in connection to the investigation carried out into the conduct of Tidewater'.
Ogar, who alleged that there were elements of 'economic crime' in the deal, wants the EFCC to investigate among others, 'what did the private citizen do to earn a fee of $300,000 and why didn't the Solicitor General of the Federation witness the purported agreement?'
But Adoke said on Wednesday that he only signed the deal after the EFCC under the watch of Waziri had reached agreement with Tidex.
He also said the lawyer who represented the Federal Government in the agreement, Mr. Godwin Obla (SAN), was nominated by the EFCC.
He said, 'am constrained to draw attention to the above caption published in The Punch Newspaper of Wednesday, 27 April 2016 to the effect that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN had directed the EFFCC to investigate the 2011 Non Prosecution Agreement executed between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Tidex Nigeria Limited.
'I would ordinarily have refrained from commenting on the issue knowing fully well that the circumstances surrounding the execution of all the Non-Prosecution Agreements signed in 2011, are known to relevant Agencies of Government including the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the EFCC. But, since the aforementioned publication hit the newsstands, I have been inundated with calls from genuinely concerned Nigerian's seeking to know what is responsible for these deliberate attempts to smear my name and bring me to public odium?
'My answer is simply that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation did not initiate these settlements. It was the EFCC, under the Chairmanship of Chief (Mrs) Farida Waziri, OON that initiated these settlements and nominated Mr. Godwin Obla, SAN as the Lawyer to represent their interest in the negotiations that were conducted under auspices of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. It was when the negotiations were concluded to the satisfaction of all the Parties, that I signed on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and Mr. Emmanuel Akomoye (then, Secretary to the EFCC) signed on behalf of the EFCC. The copies of the agreements are in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and I believe with the EFCC as well.
This was the procedure that was adopted in respect of all the settlements that were initiated by the EFCC in 2011 including those of Shell, Saipem, KBR, JGC, etc, that infracted the laws of the country.' Punch