Former Attorney General (AGF) of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN)

A Federal High Court in Abuja has held that the involvement of former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke, in the OPL 245 transactions commonly referred to as the Malabu Oil deals was in furtherance of the execution of lawful directives/approvals of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had, based on Adoke’s involvement in the Malabu deal, to which it (EFCC) claimed Nigeria lost over $1.8 billion, filed a five count charge of money laundering against the ex-minister before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

But, in a judgment on Friday, Justice Binta Nyako held that Adoke merely acted in furtherance of the lawful directives/approvals of ex-President Jonathan in the exercise of his (President’s) executive powers as provided in the Constitution.

Justice Nyako said based on her finding that Adoke (who served under Jonathan) acted on the ex-President’s lawful directives/approvals, he could not be held personally liable for all he did in respect of the Malabu deals.

The judgment was on a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/94/446/2017 filed by Adoke, with the AGF as sole defendant.

The judge resolved all the issues raised for determination in favour of the plaintiff and also dismissed the preliminary objection raised against the suit by the defendant.

Justice Nyako 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 remaine within the confines of the lawful directives given to him by the President and is therefore protected by law.

Exhibit 19 is a letter written by the AGF to the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the effect that the plaintiff (Adoke) has 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 is 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.

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.

She said: “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 exerciseable by him directly or through a minister of the federation.”

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