Posted by News Express | 17 March 2017 | 1,951 times
Contrary to the strong denial by former President Olusegun Obasanjo early in the week that he endorsed the controversial Malabu Oil deal, recently released official documents confirm the involvement of the former president in the transaction that was coordinated under the Ministries of Justice and Petroleum Resources of his government.
In his denial, the former president had asked the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), to desist from further mention of his name in connection to the controversial deal, saying it “was the height of corruption.”
“Adoke and others should not drag me into a matter I know nothing about. If they have been asked to answer questions over decisions they took while in office, they should do that honourably,” he was quoted as saying.
“They should not bring Obasanjo into an Etete deal. I was not part of any such deal.
“What Etete did is the height of corruption. He appropriated the asset to himself illegally, illegitimately and immorally.
“I can’t remember giving approval that the block be given back to Etete.
“We gave it back to Malabu? On what ground? Do you have any such evidence?
“Ask Bayo Ojo and Edmund Daukoru what really happened because the stand I took at the time was unassailable.
“If Daukoru has evidence that I approved that the block be given back to Malabu or Etete, let him produce it,” he had said.
Obasanjo added, “If it is proven that I indeed approved the deal, I will be willing to apologise to Nigerians. But we have to get to the bottom of it all.”
However, published official documents belying his rebuttals show that the Obasanjo government had indeed entered into a string of agreements with Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd.
In a letter dated December 2, 2006, addressed to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and Chief Dan Etete, the Minister of State for Petroleum under the Obasanjo government, Chief Edmund Daukoru did convey Obasanjo’s approval of the deal.
Titled ‘Malabu Oil and Gas Limited Out-of-Court Settlement in Respect to OPL 245’, the letter reads: “We are delighted to convey that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, having concluded a review of your legal claims for the return of the oil block 245, has graciously approved and directed as follows:
“Malabu Oil and Gas Limited shall be at liberty to exercise all rights incidental to and consequent upon the return of the oil block to it and shall be free to assign, pledge or deal in any way with its restored rights in OPL 245, in whole or in part to any 3rd party subject as always to the operative laws of Nigeria including but not limited to obtaining all approvals permit and appropriate consents necessary.”
Earlier, a document dated November 3, 2006, revealed that Daukoru did broker a similar settlement agreement with Malabu on behalf of the Federal Government.
In the deal, which was finally consummated in 2011, only $210 million of the $1.3 billion paid by Shell and Eni for the block went into the coffers of the Federal Government as “signature bonus.”
The rest were paid to Malabu Oil and Gas, mainly owned by Etete, who, as Petroleum Minister in 1998, awarded the lucrative licence to himself.
The award of the controversial Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 to Malabu was nullified by Obasanjo in 1999 and assigned to Shell without a public bid.
However, still under the Obasanjo government, the licence was reverted to Malabu, leading to Shell instituting a legal action.
But the said out-of-court settlement, Shell with its partner, Eni, entered direct negotiation with Etete and Malabu, resulting in the deal settled in the sum of US$1.3 billion.
The deal was consummated in 2010 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan assumed office as president.
A year later, the $1.3 billion deal was struck in full and final payment, with Malabu getting $1.1 billion from Shell and Eni for transferring ownership of the licence to it, while the signature bonus was paid to Nigeria. (Independent)
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