House sets to investigate N155billion oil block scandal involving government officials, shell

The House of Representatives on Thursday resolved not to let the N155billion naira oil block scandal involving Nigerian government officials, two multinational oil giants (Shell and Agip), and a Nigerian company (Malabu Oil and Gas) be swept under the carpet as legislators decided to investigate the shady deal.

The decision by the legislators followed a motion brought under “matters of urgent national importance,” by Robinson Uwak who represents Akwa Ibom state in the lower house.

“There was a purported sale of OPL 245 to Shell/Agip consortium for the sum of $1,092,000,000 and immediate transfer of the entire amount to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, an indigenous oil company, as compensation for its alleged prior interest in the oil bloc,” Mr. Uwak said.

The legislator also lamented the pattern of distribution of the proceeds of the sale saying “the ethical and legal issues which surround the transaction have further been compounded by the pattern of distribution of the proceeds of this sale.”

Despite the House claiming it could not debate the motion because there were cases in court on the matter, the legislators decided to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the roles played by all parties in the scandal.

Members of the committee who have not  been named will be given three weeks to complete their task.

PREMIUM TIMES had, in an ongoing series, extensively reported how Shell and Agip secretly paid $1.1bn into a Federal Government account for OPL 245 and how the money was subsequently transferred by the government into Malabu accounts. 

Malabu is largely owned by former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, who was convicted for money laundering in France.

We also exposed how Malabu dubiously transferred the money into accounts of companies believed to be fronts for public officials including about half of the total sum ($523mn) into accounts of companies owned by Abubakar Aliyu, a man with links to President Jonathan through former Bayelsa Governor, Diepreiye Alamieyeisegha.

Senate keeps mum

While the House sees a scandal in the transaction, the Senate has said it would not investigate the matter unless there is a formal petition before it.

Its spokesman, Eyinnaya Abaribe, in a telephone interview told PREMIUM TIMES that newspaper reports were not enough bases for the upper chamber to investigate such a monumental fraud.

 “Do we just wake up and start to do our work based on reports in the newspapers?”Mr. Abaribe queried. 

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