OBJ, Yar’Adua, Jonathan Endorsed Malabu Oil Deal – Mohammed Bello Adoke

By Bode Olagoke-Abuja

A former Attorney-General of the Federation Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, has revealed how three former presidents and their attorneys-general negotiated and endorsed the agreement leading to the final implementation of the Settlement in the Malabu Oil deal.

The former presidents, who Adoke said acted in the national interest between 2006 and 2015, were Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the immediate past president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

In a letter obtained by Blueprint yesterday in Abuja, which was addressed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, titled: “Re: Settlement of Dispute Over Ownership/Operation of OPL245, Between the Federal Government of Nigeria, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited,” he warned the current AGF “to be mindful of his overacting powers over public prosecution and the need to ensure that state institutions do not become persecutors or instruments in the hands of those pursuing personal vendetta.”

He said the Malabu oil transaction started from President Olusegun Obasanjo, under whose administration the Terms of Settlement were brokered with Chief Bayo Ojo, as the then attorney general who executed the “Terms of Settlement before the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who approved the final implementation of the Terms of Settlement and my humble self who executed the resolution agreements; this is more so as the Settlement and its implementation were situated in the Federal Ministry of Justice.”

 

He recalled that the Terms of Settlement encapsulating details of the Settlement between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Malabu Oil & Gas Limited (Malabu) was executed on November 30, 2006.

“The Terms of Settlement, which were later reduced into  a Consent Judgement of the Federal High Court, Abuja, were brokered by  our predecessor in office, Chief Bayo Ojo, and signed on behalf of  the Federal Government of Nigeria by the then Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.”

 

While challenging Malami to make the public understand the true side of the story, he said: “However, recent actions of the Economic and Financial Crimes  Commission (EFCC) to impugn the settlement which was done in the national interest particularly their penchant to suppress facts  relating to the transaction and the filing of criminal charges against me for conspiracy/aiding the commission of Money Laundering offence, and the latest allegations of bribe taking reveal very clearly that either your Office and that of the EFCC are not working in harmony or that something sinister is going on.

 

“Having given you the benefit of the doubt that you would not sponsor deliberate falsehood against me, my suspicion is that there is an orchestrated plot by the EFCC to deliberately impugn a transaction that has been scrutinised and approved by at least three past presidents and three attorneys general; drag my name in the mud and paint me with the tar of corruption in order to attract public odium.”

 

Adoke, according to the letter, also explained that Malabu was allocated OPL 245 in April, 1998, and in accordance with the terms of the grant, it appointed SNUD as its Technical Partner.

“The two companies executed relevant agreements, including a Joint Operation Agreement in 2001. Records indicate that SNUD took 40% participating interests in the venture in a farm-in- agreement and also signed agreement with Malabu as its technical partner for the venture.

“Although, Malabu was issued a licence for Block 245 in April 2001, the same licence was subsequently revoked by the Federal Government on July 2, 2001.

 

Exxon-Mobil and Shell were invited in April 2002 to bid for OPL 245 despite subsisting contractual agreements between Malabu and SNUD with respect to OPL 245. Malabu was dissatisfied with the revocation and contended that the circumstances leading to the revocation of its licence on Block 245 was less than transparent and smacked of inducement and connivance from SNUD, its technical partner.

“Malabu also contended that the subsequent re-award of OPL 245 to SNUD by the Federal Government was done under questionable circumstances. It then petitioned the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum to look into the matter.

 

It is apposite to note that the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum found no rational basis for the revocation and reprimanded Shell for its complicity. The Committee also directed the federal government to withdraw the re-award it made to Shell and return OPL 245 to Malabu, the original allotee of the Block.

“Malabu also instituted Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2003, before the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, to enforce its claim to OPL 245. Although, the suit was struck out by the FHC, Malabu lodged Appeal No CA/A/99M/2006 before the Court Appeal, Abuja Division.

 

During the pendency of the Appeal, an amicable settlement was entered into between Malabu and the federal government and in compliance with the Terms of Settlement executed by the Parties on November 30, 2006; OPL 245 was fully and completely restored to Malabu in consideration for its withdrawal of the Appeal. (Copy of the Terms of Settlement dated November 30, is attached as Annexure ‘A’).

 

“Apparently dissatisfied with the Terms of Settlement between the Federal Government and Malabu, SNUD commenced arbitral proceedings against the decision of the Federal Government to restore/re-allocate OPL 245 to Malabu at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC, and made representations to government on the impending arbitration. It is instructive to note that SNUD’s claim before ICSID was in excess of US$2bn. It also commenced a suit against the Government before the Federal High Court, Abuja. (Copy of SNUD’s Claim before ICSID is attached as Annexure ‘B’)”

 

The letter, however, posed some questions to Malami to include: “Why are these powerful families and individuals reluctant to litigate their dispute in the law courts if they are confident about their legal claims to the Shares of Malabu? Why are they intent on using state actors and institutions for their private benefits? Where were they when Malabu was negotiating with the FGN from 2006 to 2011 when the Settlement was finally implemented? Hon. Attorney General, you will be doing Nigerians a great favour by asking the EFCC, the Abacha Family and other powerful individuals involved to answer these important questions.”

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