Panel’s report indicts Jonathan, others in $1.1b Malabu Oil deal

The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the alleged corruption, malpractices and breach of due process in the award of OPL 245 has indicted former President Jonathan for his role in the contentious Malabu oil block deal.

Dr Jonathan denies any wrongdoing.

The report on the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, which comprises a large area of 1,958 square kilometers, including two deep water fields and reckoned to hold an estimated 9.2 billion barrels of crude oil, followed over three months of continuous investigation.

The committee, headed by Hon. Rasak Atunwa, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, believes the former president cannot claim ignorance of the facts leading to the payout of $1.1 billion on the Malabu deal which culminated in a huge revenue loss for the country.

The committee recommended that the ex-president be given an opportunity to explain his role in the approval of the April 2011 Agreement which acted as a catalyst for the supposed “resolution” on which the $1.1 billion was paid.

      Photo Credit: Getty images

The committee also stated that since allegations against the ex-President are weighty, the House should invite him to appear before it to state his side of the story, especially if he approved the payment as claimed by some of the principal actors in the issue and also to clear his name that he received part of the payout.

Dr Jonathan was indicted by the Southern Crown Court in the United Kingdom (case no 74/14) before Mr. Justice Edis on 23rd and 24th November, 2015, between Malabu Oil and Gas Limited (Applicant) and the Director of Public Prosecution (Respondent ).

The original application, The Nation learnt, had been made following a Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request made on 26th May, 2014, by Mr. Fabio de Pasquale, a Public Prosecutor of Milan (PPM).

The former President was alleged to have received part of the $1. 1 billion paid to Malabu Oil. He denied ever receiving any cash.

The UK court, in its judgement, said: “It is of note that Malabu had paid (if anything) only a very small proportion of the sum which it received for this licence. Therefore, a sum of approximately $1bn for exploration right of OPL 245 was paid, not to the Nigerian people for whom they belonged, but to Malabu.”

The committee is also asking for the prosecution of former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke for her role in the alleged fraud.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke was recommended for prosecution on the premise that the transfer of the funds was approved through an escrow account allegedly opened by herself and former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Adoke, through two Nigerian banks.

Other people recommended for prosecution by the ad hoc committee include the former AGF Adoke, who allegedly crafted the agreement and also argued that the payment was in the interest of the Nigerian people; Mr. Abubakar Alleel, who was said to have acted as a conduit through which the money was disbursed; SHELL/ ENI/NAE for their role in the ‘fraud’ particularly as they were already facing investigations on the issue abroad, and Olusegun Aganga, former Trade Investment Minister.

The committee wondered why the anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), were not showing active interest in the oil giants as regards the Malabu fraud. The EFCC has already filed charges against former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Dan Etete, Adoke and others.

It recommended the immediate prosecution of Shell/ ENI for criminal acts, inimical to the well-being of the economy as international prosecutors have declared that part of the $1.1 billion found its way to officials of the companies involved.

Also indicted is another former AGF Bayo Ojo, (SAN), who is alleged to have benefited from the Malabu payment, and Etete.
Many stakeholders are laying claim to being the authentic owners of Malabu Oil and Gas.
They include Mohammed Abacha and Otunba Oyewole Fasawe and the Minister of Justice and Attorney – General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who insisted that investigation into the alleged fraud had not yielded any candidate for prosecution.

Newsmen learnt that though the chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Rasak Atunwa, is out of the country, the report will be laid immediately after the House resumes from the Easter break for further consideration.

The Jonathan angle, The Nation learnt, was responsible for the delay in the submission of the report as the committee members deliberated on how to go about summoning the former president.
A source told our reporter that the event might be held behind closed doors when the ex-president eventually appears and the report attached as an addendum.
Atunwa, had in a previous chat with The Nation said in an effort to recover $1.1 billion allegedly denied the country as revenue, his committee will focus on the international aspect of the Malabu Oil deal

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