The immediate past Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), says the $1.1bn Malabu deal was sanctioned by former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Adoke, therefore, denied allegations by the EFCC that the Malabu deal was fraudulent.
The former AGF said this in an open letter written to his successor, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Sunday titled, ‘Settlement of dispute over ownership/operation of OPL 245, between the Federal Government of Nigeria, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.’
The EFCC had recently charged Adoke and other international oil companies for their alleged role in what it described as one of the biggest scam ever perpetrated against the Nigerian people.
However, Adoke maintained that the EFCC was being used by powerful elements like the family of the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, to persecute him.
He said, “Out of the three Presidents that had the opportunity to scrutinise this settlement, Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan are alive. Have they disowned the settlement? Has our predecessor in office, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, distanced himself from the settlement he brokered?
“I believe it is your responsibility to explain to the public who are being sold a fiction that the transaction started from President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR under whose administration the Terms of Settlement were brokered with Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, as the then Attorney General who executed the Terms of Settlement before the tenure of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR who approved the final implementation of the Terms of Settlement and my humble self who executed the resolution agreements.
“Have the honourable ministers of Petroleum Resources and Finance at the time of the implementation of the settlement (Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, and Dr. Olusegun Aganga, respectively), disowned the settlement or their signatures?
“It is my respectful view that Nigerians deserve answers to these questions as it will help them and my humble self to understand the actions and the machinations of the EFCC masquerading to be acting in the national interest while surreptitiously deploying state resources and machinery to promote the personal agenda of their cohorts.”
While narrating the genesis of the transaction, Adoke, who is currently in the Netherlands, said Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was in 1998 allocated the OPL 245, one of the most lucrative oil blocks in Africa.
Malabu Oil and Gas then appointed Shell as its technical partner.
However, when Obasanjo came into power, he revoked the licence in 2001 and then handed the licence to Shell.
Enraged by the decision, Malabu Oil and Gas took the matter before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Petroleum and the committee found no rational basis for the revocation and reprimanded Shell for its complicity.
The Committee also directed the Federal Government to withdraw OPL 245 from Shell and return it to Malabu.
Adoke added, “Malabu also instituted Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2003, before the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, to enforce its claim to OPL 245. Although, the suit was struck out by the FHC, Malabu lodged Appeal No. CA/A/99M/2006 before the Court Appeal, Abuja, Division.
“During the pendency of the appeal, an amicable settlement was entered into between Malabu and the Federal Government and in compliance with the terms of settlement executed by the parties on the November 30, 2006, OPL 245 was fully and completely restored to Malabu in consideration for its withdrawal of the appeal.”
Adoke said after the licence was returned to Malabu by the Obasanjo government, Shell took the matter before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC, demanding $2bn from the Nigerian government for breach of contract. It also commenced a suit against the government before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The former AGF said to resolve all the contending claims in a satisfactory and holistic manner, a resolution dated April 29, 2011 was executed wherein the Federal Government agreed to resolve all the issues with Malabu and Shell.
He said, “In furtherance of the resolution, Shell and ENI agreed to pay Malabu through the Federal Government acting as an obligor, the sum of $1,092,040,000 in full and final settlement of any and all claims, interests or rights relating to or in connection with Block 245 and Malabu agreed to settle and waive any and all claims, interests or rights relating to or in connection with Block 245 and also consented to the re-allocation of Block 245 to Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited.”
Adoke said he did not broker the deal but merely implemented the resolution which was a direct order from the President.
He asked Malami to make a public statement on the matter and exercise his power as the chief law officer to caution the EFCC.