……orders Shell, Agip to hands-off pending trial
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, has issued an order granting interim ownership of controversial Oil Prospecting License (OPL 245) to the Federal Government, pending the conclusion of investigation and prosecution of oil giants involved in the $1.2billion Malabu oil bloc fraud.
Justice John Tsoho made the order following an ex-parte application that was filed by Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The court directed FG to take possession of the disputed oil bloc pending the conclusion of investigation and prosecution of Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd, Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and other individuals named in connection with acts of conspiracy, bribery, official corruption and money laundering.
It specifically ordered the Department of Petroleum Resources to manage OPL 245 on behalf of the federal government.
EFCC in the suit marked FHC/Abj/CS/14/207, told the court that investigation conducted revealed that Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and SPDC secured OPL 245 through fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company.
“That Italian Police have also conducted extensive investigation on the fraud committed by Shell Nigeria, Agip and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd culminating in a criminal charge at the Ordinary Court of Milan”, the anti-graft agency averred in a 21 paragraphed affidavit deposed to by one of its operatives, Mr. Ibrahim Ahmed.
It will be recalled that EFCC earlier slammed a nine-count criminal charge against the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, and eight others over the oil bloc scam.
Other defendants in the charge marked FHC/Abj/CR/268/2016, are an erstwhile Petroleum Minister, Chief Dan Etete, an oil mogul, Mr. Abubakar Aliyu.
As well as six firms- Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Development Company Ltd, Group Construction Ltd and MegaTech Engineering Ltd.
More details soon.