EFCC and OPL 245 (Malabu) Scam: Enough of beating about the bush

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By Ifeanyi Izeze

Why do our government officials proudly wear the toga of ‘people of half-measures’ everywhere and in everything? Is it not distressing to think that The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been on this Malabu (OPL 245Oil bloc) heinous crime against our common interest for over a decade now and still they are yet to get a hold on the crux of the matter and the actual dramatis personae rather they have wasted our resources and time chasing shadows.

Why is the EFCC deliberately suppressing the truth concerning the transactions and rather rushing to slam criminal charges solely against the former Attorney General of the Federation Mohammed Adoke for conspiracy/aiding money laundering and all sorts of other offences?

Malabu Oil and Gas Company Nig. Limited was allocated or rather gave itself OPL 245 in April, 1998 and appointed Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep (SNUD) as its technical partner, with the two companies executing relevant agreements, including a Joint Operation Agreement in 2001. Records indicate that SNUD took 40 percent participating interests in the venture in a farm-in agreement and also signed agreement with Malabu as its technical partner for the venture. Although Malabu was issued a license for Bloc 245 in April 2001, the same licence was subsequently revoked by the Federal Government on 2nd July, 2001. Exxon-Mobil, ENI/Nigerian Agip and Shell were invited in April 2002 to bid for OPL 245 despite subsisting contractual agreements between Malabu and SNUD with respect to OPL 245.

Despite the intrigues, politics and outright mischief by both the federal government and all the companies involved (real and fake ones), the question to ask is: Was there anything like “OPL245 Resolution Agreement with Malabu Oil and Gas, Shell, ENI and their Nigerian subsidiaries?” What was the role of the Federal Government in the Agreement: was the government a party or a mediator?

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Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, the charges being levelled against Adoke reveal very clearly that either the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and that of the EFCC are not working in harmony or that something sinister is going on. And it ought not to be so if actually we are serious about tracing the missing money in the Malabu transactions.

Is it not curious that one very key missing link in all these EFCC theatrics is the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. Why is he not telling the EFCC and Nigerians whether his predecessors in office from 2006 to May 2015 acted in the national interest when they brokered and implemented the Settlement? It is instructive for Nigerians to know whether his predecessors were carrying out their personal agenda or that their respective actions were carried out with the knowledge and approval of their respective principals.

Except there is more to this case that we are meant to believe, it is Abubakar Malami’s duty to tell the public that the transaction started under President Obasanjo, under whose administration the Terms of Settlement were brokered. The executor of the terms was Bayo Ojo (SAN), who was the Attorney General. He performed this role before the tenure of Goodluck Jonathan, who approved the final implementation of the Terms of Settlement. Adoke was similarly an executor of the resolution agreements, especially because the whole process and its implementation were domiciled with the Ministry of Justice.

Curiously, the EFCC has deliberately circumcised this case? It will be recalled that the Terms of Settlement encapsulating details of the Settlement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil & Gas Limited (Malabu) was executed on 30th November 2006. The Terms of Settlement, which was later reduced to a Consent Judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, was brokered by Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) the then AGF who signed on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria in conjunction with Edmund Dakauru, the then Minister of State for Petroleum.

How come the EFCC is pretending not to be aware that the role played by the Federal Government, its agencies and officials in the transaction was essentially that of facilitator of the resolution of a long standing dispute between Malabu and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep?

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What is the effect of Section 5 of the Constitution on persons who act pursuant to lawful Presidential approvals? This is more so as two out of the three Presidents that had the opportunity to scrutinize this Settlement (Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan) are still alive. Have they disowned the Settlement? Has Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) distanced himself from the Settlement he brokered? Have the Ministers of Petroleum Resources and Finance at the time of implementation of the Settlement (Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, and Dr. Olusegun Aganga, respectively) disowned the Settlement or their signatures?

How do you explain that the EFCC is trying to impugn the transaction, which was scrutinized and approved by Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan as well as three Attorneys-General, solely on Adoke leaving out the other two-Bayo Ojo and Andoakaar? Why is the EFCC not arresting and/or detaining any top level official from Agip, Shell, Mobil amongst others?

The arrest and detention of Adoke Muhammed is not the end-all. What’s at issue in this Malabu case is the whereabouts of the $1.1 billion ENI/Nigerian Agip oil Company paid into Nigeria’s bank account at JP Morgan branch in New York, which was then hurriedly transferred to JP Morgan branch in London, where it was shared by just few people, including a former Russia’s diplomat; and, Dan Etete – a past Oil Minister in Nigeria who’s since admitted he got $250 million as his share of the bounty, thereby leaving about $850 million unaccounted for as yet.

Where is the missing $850 million in the transaction that was shared in London? That is the rub. That’s where the EFCC looks lazybones for failing to trace the remainder $850 into individuals’ pockets and asking Interpol to repatriate Chief Dan Etete. For those failings EFCC can’t claim to be doing more than going through the motions so long as it doesn’t retrieve any portion of the $1.1 billion Malabu Oil fraud at large. God bless Nigeria!

(IFEANYI IZEZE writes from Abuja: [email protected]; 234-8033043009)