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$1.04bn block: How Diezani ceded OPL 245 to Malabu Oil in 2010

Diezani-Alison-Madueke61

….What Mohammed Abacha told FG on the firm’s shareholders’ crisis

More trouble awaits a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, following fresh revelations yesterday that she has been fingered in the ceding of the controversial $1.04billion OPL 245 to Malabu Oil.

It was also learnt that contrary to their claim, the Abacha family in December 2012 sought  the Federal Government intervention in the shareholders’ dispute in Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

But the government in January 2013 asked aggrieved shareholders to go to court, a development which was unacceptable to the Abachas at that time.

These facts have emanated from the ongoing investigation of the controversial oil block by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

Findings by our correspondent revealed that detectives have obtained more documents, implicating Diezani in the oil block deal and confirming the interest of the Abacha family.

Although the ex-minister is still holed up in London pending a trial in a UK court, it was learnt that she has a case to answer on the Malabu Oil block.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The ongoing probe of the controversial oil block has shown that Diezani was central to the ceding of the oil block to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

“Some documents available to detectives have clearly shown that she has some explanation to give on how the oil block was returned to Malabu.

“At the appropriate time, the EFCC may seek inter-agency collaboration with the appropriate authorities in the United Kingdom to enable its detectives to interrogate Diezani.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “There are many suspects we are closing in on the Malabu Oil block. More will still face trial.”

In a July 2nd 2010 letter to the Managing Director of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Diezani asked the company to pay US$210million as signature bonus.

The letter, ICSID Case No. ARE/07/18, said: “Further to the Settlement Agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd dated  November 2006, your company is hereby allocated OPI 245 subject to the payment of the sum of US$210million as signature bonus into the Federal Government designated account less the sum of US$2,040,000 already paid by your company in respect of the said block within ninety days (90 days) from the date of receipt of this letter.

“Please note that failure to pay the above mentioned within the stipulated period will amount to forfeiture of the allocation without further notice from the office.

“Please, accept the assurance of my highest regards.”

As at press time, findings confirmed that the Abacha family begged the Federal Government to intervene in the shareholders’ dispute in Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

But after failure by shareholders to meet, the government asked those aggrieved to go to court.

It was learnt that a company, ‘Enervate Consult Limited’, approached the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), for “urgent intervention in the dispute among shareholders of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

The AGF through a letter,  HAGF/GEN/SA3/2012/1 of December 18, 2012 and signed by a Special Assistant to the ex-minister, Mr. Pius Oteh, sought clarification from the Abachas on the status of Enervate Consult Limited.

The letter said: “I am directed to you that the Honourable Attoney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (HAGF) is in receipt of a letter dated today, 18th December, 2012 from a certain ‘Enervate Consult Limited’ in respect of the above described matter.

“The said company has indicated in the said letter that it is representing your interests towards the resolution of the alleged dispute among shareholders of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited over ownership rights.

“The HAGF requests that you confirm that the said ‘Enervate Consult Limited’ has been so instructed by you to represent your interests in the matter.

“Please, accept the assurance of the good wishes of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”

But  Mohammed Abacha disowned the consulting firm and chose to handle the shareholding crisis through two representatives-Abdullahi Haruna and Reuben Okpanachi Atabo Esq.

In a December 18, 2012 letter to the ex-AGF and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke(SAN), the scion of Abacha family, Alh. Mohammed Abacha said: “I acknowledge the receipt of your letter with reference no. HAGF/GEN/SA3/2012/1 dated 18th December, 2012 on the above subject and want to thank you immensely for the warm reception accorded me and my team in your office today.

“I want to formally inform you that I want to directly handle the current stage of efforts to resolve the outstanding shareholders dispute would want to be presented at all meetings by Abdullahi Haruna and Reuben Okpanachi Atabo Esq.”

On March 21, 2017, Mohammed Abacha approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare him and a firm, Pecos Energy Ltd, as genuine owners of Malabu Oil & Gas Limited.

The EFCC had filed two  charges against some people suspected to have played some roles in the auctioning of the oil block.

The commission on  December 20, 2016 filed nine charges bordering on alleged mismanagement of $1,616,690,656.78 Malabu Oil cash against a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete, a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Bello Adoke (SAN), a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Rocky  Top Resources Limited; Imperial Union Limited; Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, Group Construction Limited and Megatech Engineering Limited.

The nine-count charge was filed  at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In another separate charge, the EFCC sued  Etete, Adoke, Abubakar and eight others over alleged $801million bribe in respect of the auctioning of the Malabu Oil block.

The others are Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited;  Nigeria Agip  Exploration Limited; ENI SPA; Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Ralph Wetzels (ex- Director of SNEPCO), Casula Roberto(Italian) whilst being the Director of AGIP; Pujatti Stefeno(Italian) while being the Director in AGIP; and Burafato Sebastiano (Italian).

All the suspects have denied the charges.

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