The prime actors in the Malabu Oil deal are refusing to keep shut even as the Buhari-led administration widens its investigations, through the EFCC, into the ugly side of the $1.1billion transaction.
Thisday Newspapers is reporting that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dauza Loya Etete, has queried the decision of the federal government not to prosecute the three oil multinationals – Anglo/Dutch Royal firm Shell, France’s Total and Italy’s ENI Nigerian subsidiary, Agip – that were parties to a transaction entailing the payment of $1.1 billion by the international oil companies (IOCs) into a federal government-designated escrow account in exchange for a stake in a prolific oil block held by Malabu and Oil Gas Limited in 2011.
The newspaper claimed that Etete’s official reaction came via a series of text messages exclusively sent to it, wherein the oil magnate who owns Malabu Oil and Gas Limited also denied any wrongdoing in the deal.
The federal government last week filed a nine-count charge against Etete and eight others, including the Chairman of A.A. Oil, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar, and a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN).
But in his first reaction since he was charged to court, Etete likened the charges to the government prosecuting itself.
According to him, the former AGF (Adoke) negotiated the settlement agreement by himself with the involvement of all stakeholders, whom Etete said were properly represented.
The former oil minister also revealed that the federal government, through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), collected a signature bonus of $210 million instead of the original signature bonus of $20 million that was paid for another oil block – Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 246 – that was awarded by him when he was the petroleum minister to South Atlantic Petroleum (Sapetro).
Sapetro was founded by a former Chief of Army Staff and later Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma.
Danjuma was later to sell part of his interest in OPL 246 to Addax Petroleum (now China National Offshore Oil Corporation) for about $1 billion.
In text messages sent exclusively to THISDAY, Etete said: “Just a simple question: Can the government litigate (against) itself?
“The Attorney General of the Federation negotiated this settlement himself and all stakeholders took part and were properly represented.
“The federal government collected USD210 million signature bonus instead of the original signature bonus of USD20 million like Danjuma’s Block 246 which was awarded by me at the same time as OPL245.”
The former minister also questioned why the federal government had not charged oil multinationals, Shell and Agip (ENI) and Total, to court over the Malabu oil deal.
“They were parties to all the agreements,” he maintained.
He contended that the oil block was properly awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in accordance with the provisions defined in the Petroleum Act, and subsequently the oil prospecting licence (OPL) was awarded by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.
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