Malabu oil scam: FG denies round tripping
Written by Yunus Abdulhamid  Monday, 28 May 2012

The Federal Government yesterday denied reports linking government officials and close associates of President Goodluck Jonathan to an oil block deal where they allegedly shared $1.1 billion proceeds (equivalent N160bn).

The $1.1billion proceeds paid to Malabu oil company was allegedly shared by some private firms owned by people very close to the presidency,  reports said on Friday.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, in a statement yesterday said  the Federal Government only played the role of a facilitator and arbitrator in a commercial dispute between two estranged business partners; Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and its foreign technical partner, Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUB) “over their long standing dispute over the ownership and right to operate Block 245.”

Media reports last week had it that the sum of $1.092bn was paid by ENI AGIP and Shell into depository Escrow Account domiciled in JP Morgan Chase Co, London on 25, March 2011 as proceeds of the sale of oil block OPL 245.

In 2001, the allocation was revoked by the Federal Government and reallocated to SNUB “despite a subsisting contractual agreement between Malabu and SNUD.”

The decision was challenged by Malabu in court but was thrown out by the court, Malabu filed an appeal and petitioned the House of Representatives which ordered the Federal Government to restore the oil block to Malabu.

The statement said: “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 30th of November 2006, OPL 245 was fully and completely restored to Malabu in consideration for its withdrawal of the Appeal.”

SNUD, dissatisfied with the terms of settlement commenced arbitral proceedings against the decision of the Federal Government to restore OPL 245 to Malabu at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC, and made representations to government on the impending arbitration. It also commenced a suit against the government before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

He said several attempts were also made in 2007 to resolve the dispute by a committee comprising of the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Energy, Group Managing Director, NNPC and DPR, the issues could not be amicably resolved before the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua came to power.

Adoke said in the statement that “to accommodate all these interests, a resolution agreement dated 29th April, 2011 between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd was executed wherein the FGN agreed to resolve all the issues with Malabu in respect of Block 245 amicably and Malabu also agreed that in consideration of receiving compensation from the FGN it would settle and waive any and all claims to any interest in OPL 245.

“SNUD and ENI agreed to pay Malabu through the Federal Government acting as an obligor, the sum of US$ 1,092,040,000 billion in full and final settlement,” the statement said.

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