July 17, 2013

Justice minister summoned over $1.3bn Malabu oil deal

Malabu Oil Scam

Former attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke


ABUJA—THE House of Representatives, yesterday, summoned the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, SAN, to appear before its Committee on Justice to explain how he got information on a yet to be released report on the Malabu oil deal.

In a resolution, the House mandated the committee to set up an investigative enquiry to ascertain how the AGF got the information he gave to a transparency agency based in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the unending ripples over the sale of the controversial Oil bloc, OPL 245, to two oil firms by the Federal Government have now spilled over to the United Kingdom.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke

A Nigerian, Emeka Obi, who claimed to have sourced for the two new owners, Shell Petroleum Development Company and Nigerian Agip Oil Company, which bought the bloc, is suing Malabu in a London court over unpaid $200 million ‘success fees.’

Aggrieved Nigerian sues firm  for $200m

Obi, was to be paid $200 million for his effort but has not been paid many months after other parties had been settled.

Angered by the delay, the Nigerian approached the London court to compel Malabu to pay him his fees, having paid $65.5 million to a former Soviet diplomat, who hired him to source for willing buyers for the oil bloc.

However, the House summon of Adoke, was sequel to a motion brought under matters of national importance by Mr Samson Osagie, (ACN, Edo State), who told the House that the AGF gave vital information to a UK based transparency agency that the Malabu adhoc Committee of the House had cleared all those involved of all illegalities in OPL 035 oil bloc.

At that point, Speaker of the House, Mr Aminu Tambuwal, noted “this whole thing is based on a letter dated May 28 that emanated from the office of the AGF to a UK-based transparency group. The Committee on Justice would compare notes with Deputy Leader, Mr Leo Ogor, whether it is the same with our report.”

He explained that “the AGF should be invited to authenticate the letter and the committee should report back within one week to the House.”

The motion was seconded by Shamsudeen Ango Abdulahi, (CPC, Kano State).

Malabu, widely believed to be owned by a former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, recently got a whopping $800million as its share of the $1.3 billion paid by the two oil firms to the Federal Government for the sale of the oil bloc, which had been enmeshed in legal tussle for years.

After taking the money, the Federal Government paid a paltry $210 million into its coffers as the cost of the signature bonus for the oil bloc and transferred the balance to sundry accounts, said to be linked to some powerful persons in the country, thereby, raising concerns that the funds were laundered.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had in a report last year, said there was a case of conspiracy and breach of trust in the entire transaction but did not say who committed what offence in the saga.

Part of the EFCC report said: “Investigations conducted so far reveal a cloudy scene associated with fraudulent dealings. A prima facie case of conspiracy, breach of trust, theft and money laundering can be established against some real and artificial persons.”

The Economist of London, which reported on the matter last week, quoted some Nigerian officials as saying that the EFCC had been blocked from further investigating the controversial deal.

Meanwhile, a source at EFCC said there is nothing the agency can do about the Malabu Oil deal, given the high level of vested interest in the matter.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, pointed out that the anti-graft agency had completed its investigations and established a clear case of conspiracy, stealing, breach of trust and money laundering but could not do anything about it because of the forces behind the controversial deal.

“Our hands are really tied as far as the matter is concerned,” the source told Vanguard.

When contacted, the spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, declined comments on the matter, saying that he had not been briefed.