Rights activist and Chairman of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Olarenwaju Suraju, has been accused of cyberstalking, giving false information, injurious falsehood and defamation of former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN).
The accusations against Suraju were contained in a copy of a report issued by the Inspector General of Police (IG) Monitoring Unit on September 2, following a petition by the former Minister. Suraju was alleged to have used the social media platforms of the organisation to release an email purportedly of Adoke and JP Morgan, the US investment bank, in June 2011 over OPL 245 transaction between Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Shell and Eni.
The former minister was alleged to have communicated the investment bank through the address of a company owned by Aliyu Abubakar, who was also on trial in Italy. The e-mail was intended to support the claim that there was corruption, alleging that Adoke and Abubakar “worked together” on the deal.
Adoke was also accused of having phone conversation with an Italian journalist in 2017 where he was alleged to have acknowledged that the OPL245 deal was a scam.
But in a petition through his lawyers to the IG in February, Adoke who earlier refuted the allegations, called for a thorough investigation to unravel the truth. He argued that he was no longer minister at the date the said email was sent and so, had no reason to use another person’s e-mail address.
The former AGF described the purported phone conversation as state-managed, adding that he was on self-exile at the time and had stopped using a Nigerian line since June 2015. Communicating its findings to Adoke through a letter signed by ACP Ibrahim Musa, Head IG Monitoring, the police described the email and voice conversation as forged.
The police said Suraju did not verify the phone tape and email before sharing on social media, describing his act as a calculated attempt to resort to media trial and to falsify relationship between Adoke and Abubakar.
The report said: “A thorough investigation was carried out and in the course of investigation, it was evident that Mr Olarenwaju Suraju of Human and Environmental Development Agenda -an unregistered organisation, without verifying the authenticity of the purported telephone interview and email proceeded to use the social media handle of @HedaAgenda on Twitter and @HedaResourceCentre on Facebook to disseminate same.
“When invited by the police to substantiate his claims, he feigned sickness, jumped bail and resorted to issuing press statements maligning the police, writing frivolous counter petitions and filing civil suits in court against the IGP Monitoring Unit, Force Headquarters, Abuja and the police, aimed to undermine the investigation and to evade the course of justice;
“That the claims made by Mr. Olarewaju Suraju that, his foreign partners, national and international media agencies are the authors of the information he shared is misleading as he was the one issuing the press statements that were published by these media agencies;
“That the totality of the conduct of Olarewaju Suraju is a calculated attempt to resort to media trial and to falsify relationship between Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, and Aliyu Abubakar while their cases are still ongoing in court, thereby misleading the public, of which elements of a prima facie case of cyber-stalking, giving false information to misled public officer, injurious falsehood and criminal defamation with intent to incite exist.”
When contacted for reaction, Suraju first dismissed the report a fake, insisting that the police were yet to complete investigations on the issue.
He said: “I can assure and tell you that that report is fake. The IGP unit has not issued any report. The case is still under investigation and even though someone already came from the Cable Newspaper and I have told them that they are purveyors of fake report and in anticipation of what will be the report from the police.
“The police is yet to come out with any investigation report. The investigation is still in progress and I will advice you to contact the Police IGP unit first to confirm if there is any report from them. But I can assure you that it is completely fake and no such report has emanated from the IGP unit.
When contacted the second time, Suraju said: “I totally will leave you with that. That is fine. Since you have confirmed it from them, that is okay. I do not have any reaction since I have not seen it myself. If I have seen it, I will be able to react. But in my absence of seeing it, I have no reaction to that.”