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Nigerian govt claims it has recovered $85m from U.K on scandalous Malabu oil deal

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The Federal Government Thursday revealed that it had recovered $85 million from the United Kingdom, as part of illicit proceeds from the infamous Malabu Oil deal.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, made the disclosure at the ongoing consultative meeting on assets recovery in Abuja.

Malami however lamented the non-compliance of some countries which have continued to hold on to stolen assets against the terms of several treaties signed with the Federal Government to facilitate the return of the assets.

The Malabu Oil scandal has remained alive through different administrations, expanding to include more and more officials of government and top private sector businessmen as it continues to unfold.

Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, co-owned by former Nigerian petroleum minister under the Abacha regime, Dan Etete, was awarded the controversial OPL 245 in 1998 by the Abacha regime, following which Malabu appointed Shell as its technical adviser.

After the death of Abacha however, legal tussle ensued between Malabu and Shell over the oil bloc.

In 2011, the Goodluck Jonathan administration controversially revoked the license, handing it over to Shell. The development then prompted Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd to protest the decision via a petition to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Petroleum. The committee reacted, deeming the revocation inappropriate and ordering that the license be returned to Malabu.

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Malabu had also instituted Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2003, before the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, to enforce its claim to OPL 245. The suit was later struck out by the court, forcing Malabu to appeal the decision before the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

However, while a decision on the appeal pended, negotiations were entered into between Malabu and the Federal Government, leading to a settlement. In line with the terms of the settlement reached November 30, 2006, OPL 245 was restored to Malabu in exchange for its withdrawal of the appeal.

Former attorney general and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke Bello, in the Jonathan administration, who has variously been accused of being one of the officials at the centre of the scandal, had claimed that Shell was not happy with the development and took the matter before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC, demanding $2 billion from the Nigerian government for breach of contract.

Adoke also revealed that Shell instituted a suit against the government before the Federal High Court, Abuja, for which an agreement was eventually reached for Shell to pay $1.2 billion dollars to the federal government who will in turn settle Malabu to relinquish its rights to the disputed asset.

The former minister claimed that he implemented the terms of the settlement as directed by Jonathan.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), following investigations, determined that the deal brokered by Adoke between Malabu and Shell was fraudulent and a significant breach of Nigeria’s money laundering laws.

The EFCC also sought an arrest warrant for Adoke whom it accused of diverting the sum of $800 million paid into the federal government’s escrow account at JP Morgan Chase Bank to Malabu. It also arraigned the owner of Malabu, Dan Etete, and other alleged accomplices on charges of receiving the monies and illicitly transferring them to other accounts.

Also, the EFCC obtained an order from a Federal High Court in Abuja, granting the interim forfeiture of the oil block, Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245, to the Federal Government, pending investigation and prosecution of suspects in the $1.1 billion Malabu Oil scam.

Further developments from extensive EFCC investigations had also linked embattled former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Maduekwe to the ceding of the controversial $1.04billion OPL 245 to Malabu Oil.

Following emergence in public of emails between employees of Shell and the February 2016 call recording of the oil company’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, Shell eventually admitted that it knew that some of the monies paid to the government were to be used to settle Malabu, Dan Etete and other Nigerian government officials as bribe, and yet still went ahead with the deal.

On Monday, April 10, 2017, the Chairman of the House Committee on Justice and the head of the ad-hoc committee investigating the $1.3 billion Malabu oil deal, Razak Atunwa, disclosed the committee’s resolution to invite former president Jonathan to testify on his role in the award of Oil Prospecting Licence, OPL 245, to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd.

Atunwa said that recent developments from the committee’s investigation provided sufficient grounds justifying a Jonathan testimony. This came after a Russian middleman who brokered the deal, Ednan Agaev told Italian prosecutors that Jonathan may have received as much as a $200 million bribe from former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.

However, former president Jonathan had dismissed reports linking him to the oil scandal, describing tham as the work of his detractors.

 

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