REVEALED: What Nigerian govt told UK court about Malabu OPL 245 scandal, Etete

Dan Etete
Dan Etete

The transfer of over $800 million to accounts controlled by Dan Etete from a Nigerian government account was fraudulent and in contravention of Nigerian laws, the federal government told a UK High Court.

The money was part of the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and ENI for OPL 245, considered one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks. Although the government sought to transfer the total sum to Mr. Etete’s accounts, suits filed by middlemen seeking payments for services allegedly rendered during negotiation meant the government could only transfer $801 million of the money.

About $110.5 million was transferred to a Swiss account after one of the middlemen, Emeka Obi, won his case against Malabu while $85 million remained stuck in the UK following a court ruling.

It was in a bid to retrieve the $85 million that the Nigerian government filed its suit at the High Court of Justice, Admiralty and Commercial Court in the UK in October 2016.

Nigeria’s former attorney general, Mohammed Adoke, who authorised the transfer in 2011 following a controversial agreement with Malabu and another with Shell and ENI, has repeatedly maintained that he acted in the best interest of the federal government on the matter.

However, in a notice filed at the British Court, the Nigerian government under President Muhammadu Buhari argued that the transfer of the funds was in contravention of Nigerian laws.

“Those funds should have been paid into the Consolidated Fund of the Government of Nigeria, following the grant of an oil exploration license to a foreign oil consortium,” the government argued according to court documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES.

The federal government argued that based on Section 80 (1), of the Nigerian constitution, all such monies should have been paid into the Consolidated Fund.

“All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation,” the section states.

The government argued that it was therefore illegal for the Goodluck Jonathan administration to have opened a separate Escrow Account in JP Morgan bank in London into which the $1.1 billion was paid.

Even after receiving the money in the escrow account, the government argued, it should have been transferred directly into the Consolidate Fund.

ETETE’S ‘FRAUDULENT’ ROLE

Apart from the illegality of the account into which the money was paid, the Nigerian government also argued that Mr. Etete fraudulently secured the oil block for Malabu in 1998, at a time he served as petroleum minister under late dictator Sani Abacha.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Mr. Etete created a fictional character, Kwekwu Amafegha, who owned 30 per cent shares in Malabu at inception; thus meaning the minister awarded the block to a company he partly owned.

Restating this claim to the British court, the federal government said Mr. Etete’s action violated Section 98 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act 1990 which makes it a criminal offence for any public official to corruptly obtain any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person in the discharge of his official duties.

The government also argued that Mr. Etete’s conduct in the use of Malabu as a front breached the code of conduct for public officials.

Section 5 of the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act 1991 provides that “a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.”

Other sections of the Act like sections 10 and 23 were also violated by the then petroleum minister, the government said.

The government also argued that the failure of Malabu to pay any fee in 1998 when the block was awarded to it and also its failure to pay a $210 million signature bonus in 2016 was also illegal and further meant it had no right to the block.

“In summary, the 29th April Agreement was a corrupt agreement which deprived the claimant and the Nigerian people of the value to which it was entitled from the sale and exploitation of OPL 245 Block …” the government argued.

In its defence of the 2011 agreement and the transfer of the $801 million, Mr. Etete’s Malabu presented two letters written by Mr. Adoke.  In the first letter dated July 25, 2011 and the second dated May 20, 2013, Mr. Adoke accepted responsibility for the 2011 agreement and transfers stating that it was in public interest and that he had the permission of the federal government to authorise the deal.

In its ruling on the matter, delivered on December 19, 2016, the British court agreed with the Nigerian government and ruled that the $85 million be handed over to the Nigerian government.

PREMIUM TIMES was unable to confirm if the Nigerian government had received the $85 million or what effort was being made to retrieve it as ordered by the court.

The spokespersons for the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of Attorney-General of the Federation could not be reached for comments throughout Monday. Their telephone lines were switched off.

CRIMINAL TRIAL

A day after the court ruling, the Nigerian government commenced criminal proceedings against Messrs. Adoke and Etete, as well as others accused of involvement in the shady transactions that saw more than half of the $801 million Mr. Etete received go to companied owned by controversial businessman, Aliyu Abubakar.

Mr. Abubakar is believed to have been a front for officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Shell and ENI are also being prosecuted for their roles in the scandal.

After years of denial, Shell recently admitted it knew the money paid would end in private pockets, including those linked to Mr. Etete who a few years earlier was convicted of money laundering in France.

Shell, ENI and their officials have also been indicted by an Italian prosecutor who wants them prosecuted for their roles in the scandal.

A BUSINESS SOLUTION

Despite the ongoing prosecutions, the Nigerian government has intensified moves in recent weeks to partner with Shell and ENI on the block and other business dealings.

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, told Acting President Yemi Osinbajo during a closed-door meeting on May 10 that the new deals being entered with Shell and Eni would be crucial to the country’s economic exploits.

“These are huge billions of dollars of investment in Nigeria, I am not going to shut that down,” the minister said, adding that “the issue of the criminality (on Malabu) is outside my realm.”

Industry insiders believe the renewed negotiations would be highlighted to shareholders at the Shell annual general meeting slated to kick off on Tuesday in the Netherlands in order to downplay the criminal prosecutions.

The oil giant would likely express optimism about the talks to convince shareholders that the Malabu probe would not damage its business interests in Nigeria and globally.


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  • Forensica2

    Premium Times Editor,

    APC party and Malabu oil bloc OPL 245

    THE APC party is forever looking like a criminal organization. The party negotiates criminal law as business.
    Further, the APC party enacted plea bargain as a basis for treasury thieves to negotiate partial refund
    of stolen money and go away with the rest of the loot. APC party moreso intervenes in criminal investigations
    by Parliament to impede and obstruct justice, as has just happened in the case of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi –
    whose criminal investigation for stealing billions of Naira in emirate council funds by the Kano legislature
    follows past serial thefts as if he was born to steal. The Kano probe was yesterday hindered by a corrupt
    Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo as inspired by the stealing ideology of APC party. With the whole country
    stretched out for serial financial rape by APC party, Nigeria sinks into deeper economic recession.
    Now the criminal organization called APC party is set to negotiate crime again. It wants to play
    down the crimes it says happened in the Malabu Oil 245 acquisition and sale and bid to have
    the sale money in the pockets of its party members. In simple terms, APC stalwarts want to
    replace Dan Etete and pocket the sale money of OPL 245. The crime will then be forgiven.
    To all intents, APC party is a clear and present danger to Nigeria’s economic well-being.

    • No-Comment

      “A high court in London has awarded James Ibori, former Delta state
      governor, a nominal £1 (about N400) as damages over his claim of unlawful
      detention by Amber Rudd, British home secretary. Cheema-Grubb, the judge,
      agreed that between December 20 and 21 last year, Ibori, who spent years in UK
      jail for money laundering, was unlawfully held for one day, 18 hours and 10
      minutes. She, however, ruled, in a way that mocked Ibori’s claim, that he is
      only entitled to a nominal £1 of the sum”.

      …………….Cablenews

      (May 23rd, 2017)

    • Elder

      @Forensica2,

      After this outing as a pro-corruption stalwart,
      nobody in his right frame of mind in Nigeria will ever look forward to an Osinbajo
      presidency lest the whole country be stolen away. The soldiers who are planning
      a coup in the barracks are on a distinguished road, because Yemi Osinbajo is too
      mentally disorderly and amoral to be president of a country. He looks more like a
      riff-raff in his warped sense that fuses right and wrong as the same thing to be
      done by him at will without any thinking process or even ethical direction.

      • Pointsblank

        MUHAMADU BUHARI IS NOT SO MUCH A SICK PRESIDENT AS A FAILED PRESIDENT

        WHO INVITED NIGERIANS TO TRUST HIM TO DELIVER CHANGE FOR THE BETTER

        BUT WHO’S now ENDED UP MAKING NIGERIA FAR LOTS WORSE THAN HE MET IT.

  • Patrick Otobo

    Musikilu Mojeed
    Editor, Premium Times,

    Premium Times should get serious and stop doing this hatchet job which they have been paid the right price to do. PT is always trying to obfuscate the facts on the Malabu scandal and in the process subverting the basic tenets of journalism. This has brought the journalism profession otherwise know as the Fourth Estate of the Realm in to disrepute and until the profession is purged of people like the Editor of Premium Times, the profession will continue to be the Fourth Estate of the Wreck without any hope of redemption.

    It is convenient for PT not to mention that the first escrow account where the signature bonus was paid into by SHELL in December 2003 was opened pursuant to the Escrow Agreement between the FGN and JP Morgan. Obasanjo was the President then who authorized the opening of the Escrow Account. It was from the same account that the balance of the signature bonus of USD207,960,000 which the Government was entitles to was paid to Governement. An objective investigative journalism should capture this fact. All these facts are contained in the in the Report of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Transaction Involving the FGN and SHELL/AGIP Companies and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in respect of oil Block OPL 245 chaired by Hon. Leo Ogor of the Fedreal House of Representatives and supported by available documents in public space.

    The testimonies of the various of officials and agencies of government that appeared before the committee are contained in the report. PT should avail itself of the report and stop acting as a paid agent in aid of powerful interest and giving journalism bad image. In the concluding statement of the Honourable Minister of Finance, it states:

    “Following the endorsement of the agreement (i.e Resolution Agreement) by the Honourable Attorney
    General (Adoke), the Permanent Sectary Finance duly invited Mr. President to kindly consider and approve
    the release of the sum of US$1,092,040,000 directly to the account of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and
    subsequently approved on 6th July 2011”

    • New Nigerian

      so if you are asked to kindly consider and approve the stealing of your car for example – you’d approve it…why you all continue to hide behind Jonathan-is-a-victim cloak is beyond belief. It is either Jonathan was President or he was not – he was. Did he sign away the commonwealth he sworn to protect on behalf of the people or not? He did. why? Because he benefited personally in the theft – cunny man die cunny man bury am style. So Jonathan was nothing but a fedora wearing warlord, like you’d find in some of those banana republics in central africa. So the man by all yardstick is a failure – failure as a man and failure as a leader. With that said, he was a grand thief to boot and he can run all he want…himself and all the crooks who stole with him will meet their justice. For this let no one be in doubt.

      He is a lost case – how do you know? Even Omokri have jumped ship!

  • Julius

    smdh, this “Yoruba” man named Emeka obi got him own share. Igbo man no dey steal because dem no be Nigerian…abi.

  • Konkolo

    While we celebrate those killing us economically/health wise in Nigeria, other sensible countries are putting their corrupt leaders on trial. I just saw a picture of the female former president of South Korea in hand cuffs facing trial for corruption. What is so wrong with Nigeria????????????

  • Rommel

    Is there anyone out there still doubting that Jonathan Goodluck is a criminal?

    • sab

      Now out from hidding?

    • New Nigerian

      Fedora hat wearing war load is more appropriate

  • Wilfred Bankole Ademokun

    DORO STEALING , DORO BANDITS, DORO PRESIDO JONATAN KILLED AND DESTROY THE COUNTRY NIGERIA, IF NOT FOR THE CRY OF THE MASSES TO ALMIGHTY GOD, AND ANSWERED PRAYERS, NAIJA NA WA OOOO

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  • New Nigerian

    “The government also argued that the failure of Malabu to pay any fee in 1998 when the block was awarded to it and also its failure to pay a $210 million signature bonus in 2016 was also illegal and further meant it had no right to the block.”

    So Malabu did not even pay anything, and yet, it “owned” the oil block that it sold? How do you sell what you do not own! Only with the approval of the warlord a.k.a the ineffectual buffoon…well he was not a buffoon at all, that image is only to hide the diabolical nature of this criminality, war criminal and all – even Omokri has deserted him! … it will be an evil long road for him and his band of thieves – unless they start returning stolen commonwealth and unwound some of the damages to themselves they have done…the prayers (through his very existence) of the crazed man at edjeba junction in warri (unkempt and controlling traffic with the threat of throwing stone at anyone who dare to not stop when he asks him to), whose very condition is a direct result of larceny (to every Nigerian) by Jonathan and his court jesters is already answered leading to their ouster out of office and let everyone watch what God would do with these band of disloyal, evil people who are definitely not the best Nigeria has to offer the world.