Malabu: HEDA faults report on alleged Police indictment of Suraj

Posted by News Express | 25 September 2021 | 584 times

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•HEDA Chairman Olanrewaju Suraju



Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), has described as unfortunate a publication by PREMIUM TIMES newspaper with the caption, ‘Malabu: Report accusing HEDA’s chair of maligning Adoke not fake – Police; We stand by our position’, stating that the report fell short of every journalism ethics.

HEDA, in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Sulaimon Arigbabu, for the umpteenth time, insisted that media report claiming its Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraj, was indicted by a Police report following petitions by those accused of fraud in the lingering OPL 245 scam, is false and misleading.

Former Minister Adoke, one of those accused of fraud in the OPL 245 scam, also referred to as Malabu scandal, had petitioned the police, accusing Suraj and HEDA of circulating fabricated evidence against him to unduly incriminate him in the multi-million dollars scandal.

The subject of Adoke’s petition was forgery of an email in which Nigeria as a sovereign state was shortchanged to the tune of $1.1 billion and HEDA and its international partners have been involved in the advocacy for recovery of this money and prosecution of principal actors behind the heist.

While investigation into the case was still ongoing, a purported two-page report said to have emanated from the Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit surfaced in some media outlets where it was alleged that Suraj circulated false information about Adoke via his organisation’s social media accounts without verifying its authenticity.

HEDA spoke on a purported follow-up report by PREMIUM TIMES where the online newspaper claimed it spoke with an anonymous police officer in the Force headquarters who confirmed the report that Suraj was indicted in the said police report.

HEDA said: “On PREMIUM TIMES own account, the report is not a police report; it is at best a report written by a police officer at the request of a private citizen with an axe to grind – quite a different kettle of fish. Indeed, if it was a genuine police report, why would it be headed ‘without prejudice’, meaning that it cannot be used in court proceedings. Since when has the Nigerian Police been entitled to waste their time in writing reports that are useless from the point of view of prosecution?

“The PREMIUM TIMES report is unfortunate to say the least. For a medium with the level of professionalism and pedigree that it is noted for, how do you go about validating such a Police report and hinging your affirmation of the same on the words of a police man who chooses to be anonymous.

“The Police is not a ghost institution and by our reckoning, if PT truly desire to help unravel the authenticity or otherwise of the fake report, they could have taken these two steps; first write to the IGP’s office or any other authorised department of the police for a categorical statement on the report or the case, and in case that is done and the police is not forthcoming, they could then examine the report on its own merit by interrogating the content and claims made therein. There is no convincing pointer to PT taking these steps and hence the disappointing and unbecoming report.”

Giving background to the issue, the non-governmental group said: “For the records, the issue here is that a Muhammed Bello Adoke using the email address (an email linked directly to certain Aliyu Abubakar) wrote to JP Morgan forwarding the resolution agreements for the OPL245 deal. At the time the agreements were not in the public domain.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria drew attention to the email in their civil suit against JP Morgan, which is before the UK Courts. That same email interested the Milan Prosecutor (Italy) in its trial of other parties to the corruption associated with the contract and thus requested and obtained through the Mutual Legal Assistance process the same email as an exhibit from the Serious Fraud Office, and tendered the same email in evidence to the Milan court. This is the email (obtained legally by the Milan Prosecutor) that Mr. Muhammed Bello Adoke former AGF and Minister of Justice in Nigeria is alleging that Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju and HEDA Resource Centre forged, even though he did not have the courage to state our names in his petition to the IGP.

“It was on the strength of Mr. Adoke’s petition that the Police invited Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju and to which he obliged and made himself available at least six times, travelling to, and lodging in Abuja hotels at personal expenses sometimes for days all in his patriotic attempt to help the police in its investigation and hopefully help Nigeria to recover her stolen billions.”

HEDA explained further that it is confounding why certain interests are hell bent on circumventing and undermining the Police Investigation by resorting to “jankara tactics” (unorthodox means) to cook up a fictitious report from figment of their warped imaginations and presenting that to the public.

“Whatever advantage or assistance they assume such fraud would confer on them is left to their wishful thinking. We are well aware of their mischiefs and diversionary tactics to ambush the genuine findings of the police as an institution by contracting hatchet campaigns in the media so as to turn attention away from the true substance of the matter.

“We are aware of how they are using a shameless and ignoble media executive to peddle their falsehood and hoodwink other credible media outlets into publishing their fraudulent report. We are taking copious notes of the activities of the anti-justice, anti-people and criminal manipulations of the fact by this turncoat pitiable journalists, who obviously are being fed on the crumbs of the money stolen from Nigeria, we shall come to their matter when the time is right, for now, we refuse to be distracted.

“Back to the PT report, we express disappointment that the purveyor of the report through the medium failed to update itself with previous remarkable findings and reports  of the medium on the OPL245 case and its recent investigation which confirmed the registration of HEDA, contrary to the claims in the promoted fallacious report, referring to HEDA as an unregistered organisation.

“There are claims in that report that could have been clearly debunked by a simple desktop or phone search. We are proud of our long standing association with PT from its inception. We buy into the values of integrity, professionalism and social activism which the founder of PT laid for the medium and would not allow this to detract from our respect for PT and as such we view this unfortunate report as a product of momentary laziness and oversight of some compromised journalists, and not as a sign that character and reputation of the medium is under any pressure. We urge PT and any other credible medium to get involved in unravelling the truth in this matter and put on their investigative journalism cap to get to the bottom of this matter.”

Taking a swipe at the an article penned by a former presidential aide, Dr. Reuben Abati, HEDA said the columnists made attempt to legitimize the concocted report, under the guise of critiquing the civil society organisations in Nigeria.

“Dr Abati cowardly tried to hide behind that long prose to deliver his hatchet job, which, by the way, is typical of what venturing into politics has made of the assumed cerebral but unconscionable public speaker.

“Had he sought proper legal advice, Abati would have even been more circumspect in lending himself to propagating falsehood in the name of writing an opinion. Sincerely we have nothing but pity for Abati who is probably indebted in some curious ways to Adoke with whom he served under the GEJ administration during which the Malabu heist was committed. Either friendship or indebtedness, neither should becloud the sense of judgement of anyone who has any modicum of integrity.

“We insist on not being distracted and we have also resolved to serve the Nigerian public a blow-by-blow exposè on facts and evidences of this matter and to prove that such fraudulent, unprofessional and clearly manipulated report is a mere jankara market procurement and nothing more,” HEDA said.

Source: News Express

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