Former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), has given Abubakar Malami (SAN), the incumbent AGF, seven days to retract defamatory statements made against him at the ongoing hearing of the Process and Industrial Development arbitration in United Kingdom.
Adoke issued the ultimatum on Wednesday in a letter dated July 29 through his lawyers led by Paul Erokoro (SAN).
He also asked Malami to tender a public apology for making statements, which he knew to be untrue and defamatory against his person.
In defending the allegation, Adoke reminded Malami that he became AGF on April 6, 2010, whereas the negotiations for the gas project had been on from 2009, adding that he only became aware of the P&ID matter when the Ministry of Petroleum Resources requested in 2013 that he appointed an arbitrator as well as counsel.
The letter reads, “Our client finds it remarkable that you found no fault in the appointment of the arbitrator but found fault with the appointment of counsel, even though the two appointments followed the same process. For this reason, our client is forced to conclude that your vilification of his name is merely a case of giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it.
“Our client asserts that even though he appointed Mr Shasore as counsel, Mr Shasore’s legal fees were paid by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, long after our client had left office, a fact well known to you.
“It is also on record that our client was not involved in any of the negotiations with P&ID for settlement, which all took place under your watch. The initial proposal for settlement was delivered to President Jonathan. The President referred the matter to our client for his advice. Our client advised the President to leave the matter to the in-coming administration since the President’s tenure was ending in eight days.
“You also conceal these facts from the court even though the records have been in your office all along. If our client had been part of any corrupt scheme with P&ID as you claimed in your evidence, surely our client would have jumped at the chance to give P&ID a favourable settlement.
“Please note in this regard that the Final Award was issued in July 2015, months after our client had left office. Your evidence was therefore unfair and uncharitable to our client because you are aware that all the attempts at settlement with P&ID took place under your tenure as Attorney-General, a fact you freely admitted in your witness statements.
“It is on record that our client was not involved in any of the negotiations with P&ID for settlement, which all took place under your (Malami’s) watch. The initial proposal for settlement was delivered to President Jonathan.
“The President referred the matter to our client for his advice. Our client advised the President to leave the matter to the in-coming administration, since the President’s tenure was ending in eight days. You also concealed these facts from the court even though the records have been in your office all along.
“If our client had been part of any corrupt scheme with P&ID, as you claimed in your evidence, surely our client would have jumped at the chance to give P&ID a favourable settlement.”
Erokoro further said that he had Adoke’s instructions to demand that Malami “Instruct your counsel in England to cease and desist from repeating the allegations of corruption and other defamatory imputations broadcast about our client.
“Our client is astounded by your failure to inform the English court that under Nigerian law, any person charged with or accused of a crime must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“Rather, you pronounced our client guilty, even when you were fully aware that his trial had not even commenced. The Attorney-General’s oath of office includes an undertaking to protect and defend the Nigerian constitution.
“The constitutional right to fair trial is severely breached when the Attorney-General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria urges the court of a foreign jurisdiction to regard and even pronounce a Nigerian guilty of an offence without a trial. It was your unfortunate and wrongful pronouncement of guilt on our client that emboldened the FRN’s counsel in England to tell the whole world that our client is corrupt.
“This has done incalculable harm to our client’s name, reputation and standing in society. Our client will suffer even more harm if the English court, misled by your evidence, makes an adverse finding against our client. It is for this, among other reasons that the first duty of the Attorney-General and indeed all counsel, is to the court.”