Malabu Scandal: UK court rules in favour of Nigerian govt

Former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete. [Photo credit: THE REPUBLICAN NEWS]

A British judge ruled on Friday that up to $85 million from the notorious Malabu oil deal should be returned to the Nigerian government.
This is the first money to be successfully recovered from the $1.1 billion sale of the fantastically rich offshore oil block, OPL245, that has been mired in corruption allegations and legal trench warfare for years.
The sale, which was brokered by the then-government of Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, supposedly resolved a long running contest for the block between oil giant Shell and shelf company Malabu, beneficially owned by former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete.
Mr. Etete effectively awarded the oil block to himself when he was oil minister in 1998, but only walked away with the money for it 13 years later after Shell and Italian oil company ENI paid the Nigerian government for the block.
The government paid $801.5 million to Malabu, but not before $215 million was restrained by the UK Commercial Court after an Etete associate brought a case claiming their share.
The $85 million is what remains in the UK courts funds office after years of legal wrangling.
The counsel for the Federal Republic of Nigeria argued alone before the judge, ‎Justice Cockerill, on Friday after Malabu failed to attend the hearing.
Faisal Osman, counsel for the Nigerian government, told the court that Malabu had not responded to legal correspondence for more than a year, after another British judge had dismissed Malabu’s earlier legal bid to unlock the $85 million.
After the UK Crown Prosecution Service gave its consent to release the funds to the Nigerian government last month, the judge agreed that she was “entirely satisfied” to grant the order.
“The money in question is the money of the Nigerian people,” Mrs. Cockerill concluded.
The Nigerian government’s legal arguments were prepared by UK law firm Verdant Solicitors and Lagos law firm Johnson and Johnson.
Nigeria’s solicitor general, Dayo Apata, attended the court hearing and said: “We are very happy about this ruling. It has been a long road but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Nigeria’s attorney general, Abubakar Malami, had in October announced that his country had received the $85 million. But it appears that announcement was made in antici‎pation of Friday’s court ruling after the UK Crown Prosecution Service indicated to Mr. Malami’s office that they would not oppose a claim against the release of the money.

Mr. Malami was not available for comments on Saturday to clarify whether the money had actually been released before the Friday ruling. He did not return calls and short message to his mobile phone.
However, it is understood that Friday’s court ruling paves the way for the money to be released to the Attorney-General’s office within days.
A further amount of around $100 million proceeds from OPL245 remains frozen by the Swiss authorities, and is understood to be another target for Nigeria’s legal team.

* Lionel Faull is a reporter with Finance Uncovered. *


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  • Global Watch

    Premium Times Editor,

    How President Buhari caused Nigeria $1.i billion loss

    WERE BUHARI RUNNING AN INTELLIGENT government nearly all the $1.1 billion would be recovered
    rather than a paltry $85million representing less than 10% of the amount stolen by tricks through the
    illegal sale of OPL 245 by Dan Etete in collaboration with Adoke Muhammed – both of whom have
    fled abroad as fugitives from justice. Up till today Buhari has not sent out any INTERPOL request
    to locate and restrain both Dan Etete and Adoke Muhammed in the countries they are hiding,
    pending repatriation proceedings. By being so remiss Buhari caused the loss of $1billion.

    • Akada


      Well, since we now know that Buhari can’t fight corruption, the point is to vote him out
      as quickly as possible. Nothing else. Buhari did not go to school. We need somebody
      who went to school and can understand public affairs better than a Daura herdsman.

      Buhari is the most illiterate president today compared to presidents of other countries.
      I can’t ever be proud to be ruled by the most illiterate president Nigeria has ever had.
      A Primary Six certificate president is the last thing Nigeria needs in the modern world.
      The world is a global village where knowledge is power – not illiteracy or buffoonery.

      • FineBoy

        Hope u have PVC.

        For us with PVC, we are retaining Buhari-Osibanjo.

        You can jump to the next Hilux to Libya

        • emmanuel

          Meaning Nigeria should brace up for final economic extinction?
          I do know that forward looking people who understand the essence of leadership and national governance know that Nigeria is doomed. I do not understand philosophical fundamentals in economics. All human development indices in and about Nigeria has failed.
          Better keep your PVC in your pocked, while you patrol the Third Mainland and Lekki link bridges to pick up suicide dead bodies of your folks as they take turn through the easy way to hell.

          • FineBoy

            Looting and trading isn’t economic growth.

            You may need to enrol at NOUN if your NECO papers are complete to learn

          • kinsly

            Extinction for carrot heads like you will be highly desirable.

      • Jaybanj

        I agree with you on interpol – the biggest issue is that GEJ who was behind all of this is stil not arrested. He should be arrested and tried!!

  • Ubong

    Malami, in his characteristic nature of trying to divert attention from his ineptitude and not fit to be AGF of this country, was categorically deceiving Nigerians about tge return of the money when the non corrupt judges of UK had not yet granted order to it. This is the chief law officer of our nation we have to do with, probably he was sponsored by a corrupt leader and from a superior tribe. God will help us

    • FineBoy

      Now that Court has ruled, can you divert your attention to something good?

    • man

      we know malami’s trick. we know he is not fit. you see the questions us senate ask that trump nominee yesterday whey no get any law experience. you see how that man embarrass trump. he just dey say no,no,no, to all their questions. thats how senate work.

  • Julius

    Hopefully the money will not be re-looted .

    • emmanuel

      The money will be paid to your brother Malami, that is the end of it. They are all custodians to a masquerade, including the N50 billion NNPC money held for looting towards 2019 election.
      Your APC folks are the most despicable humans that ever ruled Nigeria, they are worse than the notorious Idi Amin rule of Uganda
      Another $1 billion organised crime for NE, but actually meant for looting, because billions of Dollars have been stolen through the NE recovery programme, yet nothing has happened there

      • Julius

        You should be banned for life from commenting in public for being a retard.

      • kinsly


  • forestgee

    The challenge now is, will the $85m cover the legal fees and kickback that will be paid by this government? Nobody knows how much was spent on the UK medical trip and we may not know the legal fees for this one too! SAD…

    • Jaybanj

      So that is the most sensible comment you have? That is the comment you tell your parents and children after this corruption scandal. Remember corruption destroys lives! For me I will choose to say – this is a good result against corruption, Corruption that took place on a massive scale under GEJ. This should never have happened and the people involved should go to Jail!

      • forestgee

        …and grass cutter, MTN’s $500m, Maina’s reinstatement etc happened under who? Even your Maina has stated that PMB is surrounded by crooks! The government must be sensible if you are looking for sense…

    • kinsly

      Complete idiotic comment.

      • forestgee

        I am sure you see idiots in grass cutter, Maina and yourself!

  • Mike Dawodu

    The $85m was even got because we have a government that fought for it and there’ll be more.The sordid incident took place on the watch of GEJ and his stealing is not corruption group.That government was a bazaar and Adore, madam Peace and her husband really had a good time stealing the country blind, it was the biggest season of corruption in Nigeria,infrastructural development was abandoned, people were stealing money that could build cities and the government was borrowing money to pay salaries,some states owed 10months salaries.Those who talk about corruption going on now know that that’s not possible but they keep saying it to blot out the fact that the previous stealing is not corruption administration nearly wrecked Nigeria and make it look like it’s not the worst.They just keep amplifying what goes on in their fantasy land but we know that our PMB may not be perfect, well who is?But he’s a man of impeccable integrity and honesty,that’s why he’s respected all over the world.We know who we voted for and will still do any time he asks for it, the humongous scale of corruption that took place between 2010 and 2015 can’t take place now and everyone knows it except the wailers.If it were in the previous administration, they wouldn’t even go after this kind of money because they would have stolen it in the first place, it was chicken feed to them, they almost bankrupted Nigeria.I’m very proud to have you as my president PMB,God be with you Sir.

  • Idris Aliyu mahmood

    …..and they are boasting to return to power( GEJ and his criminal gangs). We are waiting for them in 2019 duru waruku.