• I have no hands in your travails –Ex-vice president
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
Former attorney general and minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke Bello has named former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and agents of the family of the late military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha for his ordeal in the Malabu oil deal.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had re-opened investigations into the scandal involving Malabu Oil and Gas limited, Shell Ultra Deep Nigeria Limited and the Federal Government regarding the operation and sale of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245.
Adoke was invited by the anti-graft agency on December 28, 2015 to shed more light on the oil deal.
OPL 245 is a potentially lucrative oil block estimated to hold up to 9.23 billion barrels of crude oil and about a quarter of Nigeria’s total proven reserves.
It also has two deep water fields of Zabazaba and Etan in the Gulf of Guinea.
In a December 31, 2015 letter addressed to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Adoke described the invitation by the anti-graft body as “curious, unconventional and mischievous” adding that “since government is a continuum, all files detailing his involvement in Malabu affair was resident in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. Adoke reiterated in the letter how he was informed of a grand plot by those with vested interests in the case to humiliate him.
“I was also informed that these individuals…(wanted) to smear my name with allegations of corruption and bribery and that some agents of the Abacha family and one Lawal Abba acting for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president , were behind the scheme,” he said in the letter.
Bello informed Osinbajo that the motive for his humiliation was based on the claim that “they were shareholders in Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and had been short-changed by the main shareholder of the company and that I had refused to use my official position as Attorney General of the Federation to help them get their dues from the main shareholder.”
Adoke explained how the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 was granted to Malabu Oil & Gas Limited by the administration of General Sani Abacha, GCFR in 1998. OPL 245 was subsequently revoked by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001and re- allocated to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD) in 2002 under a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) arrangement. At the time of revocation and re-award, Malabu and SNUD had a binding Joint Operating Agreement to exploit the block with SNUD as technical partner to the Venture. Aggrieved over the revocation, Malabu petitioned the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum. After a public hearing, the House condemned the revocation and re- allocation to SNUD and recommended that the block be restored to Malabu. Malabu also sued the FGN and SNUD at the FHC in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2003 claiming several declaratory reliefs including an order setting aside the re-allocation to SNUD and a restoration of the block to Malabu. The suit was struck out but on appeal, the parties entered into a settlement dated 30th November 2006 which were executed by my predecessor in office, Chief Bayo Ojo. Pursuant to the Terms of Settlement, Obasanjo, in 2006, rescinded his earlier revocation and restored the Oil block 245 to Malabu.” Bello said the SNUD, having expended over $ 500 million on the field, commenced Arbitration proceedings against the Federal Government claiming over $ 2 billion for breach of contract, loss of investment and special damages.
Adoke said he came into the fray to resolve the dispute as the interest of the Federal Government was to ensure the payment of signature bonus, earn revenue through royalty and taxes. He said the signature bonus of $ 210 million was paid to the government and taxes and royalties were also paid.
“This is contrary to the lies and misinformation being peddled that Nigeria was short changed in the transaction,” Bello said.
When contacted, Mazi Paul Ibe, Atiku’s media adviser said his boss does not have a hand in Adoke’s travails.
The Turaki Adamawa advised the erstwhile attorney general and others so invited to focus on clearing their names instead of dragging innocent people into the fray.