A former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), has asked the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO), commonly referred to as Interpol, to let him go, because authorities in Nigeria are only persecuting him for political reasons.
In a letter to Interpol, Adoke’s lawyer, Gromyko Amedu, who is based in the United Kingdom, said the continued detention of his client was in clear violation of Article 3 of the ICPO Constitution. Amedu alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was acting unlawfully.
Article 3 of the ICPO Constitution forbids Interpol from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.
Adoke was arrested on 11 November 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), by the Interpol.
But the current Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has said the federal government would allow the institutions involved in the process to extradite his predecessor in office and do their work without any form of interference.
Adoke’s lawyer, while disagreeing with the EFCC on the handling of the case said, “The criminal charges filed in the courts, in Nigeria, against our client by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), are intended for unlawful and malicious purposes, to wit: political persecution of our client for reasons connected with our client’s former position in public office as a senior figure in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He claimed that the former AGF’s arrest was unlawful, because the bench warrant issued by a judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Justice Danlami Senchi, had been vacated.
According to him, the red notice issued by the EFCC for his arrest by the Interpol was no longer valid since it was based on the bench warrant, which had since been vacated, as such, there is no basis for Interpol to arrest him.
He argued that the EFCC ought to have withdrawn the red notice since the judge had vacated the bench warrant.
Adoke’s lawyer also cited a judgement of Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja, where it was held that since Adoke only executed the lawful directives/approvals of then President Goodluck Jonathan, the former minister was free of any liability for his roles in the Malabu oil controversy.
Upholding Adoke’s arguments, Nyako also considered a letter sent to the court by the incumbent Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, (SAN), wherein he said, “Proof of evidence is unlikely to support the counts, which bother on fraud, conspiracy and money laundering” in the charge before the Federal High Court under Charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/268.
The lawyer, therefore, wrote, “We note that since the 25th of October 2019 when Justice D. Z. Senchi granted an order discharging its earlier order of 17th April 2019 for a bench warrant to be issued for the arrest of our client, the EFCC in Nigeria had deliberately and maliciously failed to withdraw the red notice with the Interpol for the arrest of our client and has engaged in acts of unlawful misconduct in breach of the provisions of section 491 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in respect of the following actions of the EFCC, namely:
“1. Failure to withdraw all pending criminal charges against our client in connection with HAGF legal advice of 20/09/2017 in accordance with the provisions of ss. 105 and 376 of ACJA.
“2. Issuing Red Notice to Interpol for the arrest of our client to face criminal charges that are unlawful in Nigeria for reasons of the application of ss.105 and 376 ACJA to the criminal charges as stated in (1) above.
“3. Failure to convey material information to Interpol that the Red Notice issued for the arrest of our client is vitiated by the order of D Z Senchi in breach of the duties EFCC to act in accordance with the provision of ss. 376 & 491 of ACJA, as a prosecuting authority under the ACJA.
“In our client’s view, the EFCC has engaged in an unlawful misconduct identified above for purposes of procuring the breach by Interpol of Article 3 of its Constitution, which provides that: ‘It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character’.”
The lawyer stated that the prosecuting authorities in Nigeria had deliberately and maliciously procured the Interpol to engage in the breach of Article 3 of its constitution, when it got the Interpol to execute the Red Notice for Adoke’s arrest on 11 November 2019 in Dubai (UAE), for political reasons, and “for the continuous persecution of our client as a leading opposition figure in Nigeria for political reasons.”
He called for immediate release of the former minister, adding that there is no basis in law and in fact to keep detaining him.
The lawyer stated that Malami had issued a legal opinion on the criminal charge against Adoke and that any other steps taken by EFCC against the AGF’s legal opinion was null and void and of no effect.
But when asked for the federal government’s position on the development, yesterday by THISDAY, Malami said by telephone, “As you rightly know, by the tradition of this government, institutions are allowed free hand to do their work, of course, subject to the need for collaboration when that need arises, without interference that hinders their ability to carry out their statutory responsibilities.
“So the institutions that are responsible for taking steps in relation to extradition, the federal government is not in one way or the other influencing their discretion. It is left to them to discharge of their statutory responsibility.
“So it’s not whether the federal government is desirous or otherwise. It is whether the institutions that are statutorily established and vested with the powers and authority are interested in doing their job without interference. So, the government is in no way interested in interfering in their statutory discretion.”
Asked if the request for extradition should not naturally be made by his office, the minister replied, “Whichever request is passed through my office arising from statutory collaboration and constitutional duty and responsibility, my office has a duty to act. Any request that is legitimately passed to my office will be processed.”