The immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and MInister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), has written Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) over the controversial Malabu oil deal.
According to Adoke, the deal was transparent and was done according to the law.
He equally justified the transfer, in cash, of $2 billion to the oil company.
The former AGF, however, accused former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the late General Sani Abacha family of being behind his ordeal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, few months after his exit from office.
In the letter to Osinbajo, Adoke said he had already informed the incumbent AGF and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN), after he was served with a letter from the EFCC inviting him to its office for an interview on the Malabu oil transaction with Shell/ENI, that the resolution of the Malabo oil deal was done transparently.
According to him, he was unable to immediately honour the EFCC invitation as he was writing his end of semester examinations at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
Adoke added: “However, on deep reflection, I found the invitation rather curious, unconventional and mischievous especially as I acted purely in an official capacity and the EFCC could easily have had recourse to the sitting HAGF for clarifications since the records were in the Federal Ministry of Justice as government is a continuum. I therefore phoned the HAGF and notified him of the development and offered a detail explanation of what had transpired. I also impressed on him the need to protect the office from unwarranted attacks and machinations of those out to destroy it in view of its unique constitutional role in governance. I followed up by sending him a written brief with a copy of the attached Comprehensive Position Paper to enable him familiarise himself with the transaction in the event that official files in the Federal Ministry of Justice could not, for one reason or the other, be easily traced.”
According to Adoke, some powerful Nigerians, who are interested in Malabu oil, are behind his ordeal.
The former AGF wrote further: “It was after this development that I was made to understand that there were plans by some individuals who had become aware that I would be honouring the invitation of the EFCC on 28th December 2015 to humiliate me. I was also informed that these individuals had enlisted a notorious online media (Sahara Reporters) to smear my name with allegations of corruption and bribery and that some agents of the Abacha family and one Lawal Abba acting for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President were behind the scheme.”
Adoke said their motive was predicated on the claim that they were shareholders in Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and had been shortchanged by the main shareholder of the company and that he had refused to use his official position as the AGF to help them get their dues from the main shareholder.
He said it was also falsely published that he was involved in the Halliburton bribery scandal.
According to him, the said scandal predated his tenure as AGF.
Adoke said: “It will be recalled that it was during my tenure that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation in collaboration with the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) under the leadership of General Aliyu Gusau and the EFCC proceeded against the Companies that were involved in the bribery scandal and got them to pay reparations for ‘reputational damage’ to the country totaling almost $180 Million even when by the penal sanctions contained in our laws, the companies could only have paid pittance. The records are there to show what was achieved and that the monies were paid into the Federal Government accounts with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“It is in this regard that I respectfully urge Your Excellency to carefully consider and ascertain from the documentation supplied, the following facts:
“That Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 was granted to Malabu Oil & Gas Limited by the administration of General Sani Abacha, GCFR in 1998; that OPL 245 was subsequently revoked by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR in 2001and re- allocated to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD) in 2002 under a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) arrangement;
“That at the time of revocation and re-award, Malabu and SNUD had a binding Joint Operating Agreement to exploit the block with SNUD as technical partner to the Venture;
“That aggrieved over the revocation, Malabu petitioned the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum. After a public hearing, the House condemned the revocation and re-allocation to SNUD and recommended that the block be restored to Malabu;
“That Malabu also sued the FGN and SNUD at the FHC in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2003 claiming several declaratory reliefs including an order setting aside the re-allocation to SNUD and a restoration of the block to Malabu. The suit was struck out but on appeal, the parties entered into a settlement dated 30th November 2006 which were executed by my predecessor in office, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, CON;
“That the Terms of Settlement were filed in court as consent judgment and a key term in the settlement was the restoration of the Oil block 245 to Malabu by the FGN;
“That pursuant to the Terms of Settlement, President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 rescinded his earlier revocation and restored the Oil block 245 to Malabu;
“That at this time SNUD had already expended huge resources of over $500 million to de-risk the Oil block under the existing arrangement with the FGN and had found oil in commercial quantities. This was inspite of the pending litigation instituted by Malabu;
“That Shell was equally aggrieved over the unilateral revocation of the block by the FGN and commenced Arbitration proceedings at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) claiming over $2 billion from the FGN for breach of contract, loss of investment and special damages;
“That It was under the above circumstances that I, as AGF encouraged a definitive resolution between the parties who themselves had expressed an intention to settle but were untrusting of each other given their antecedents;
“That title on OPL 245 at the date of settlement in 2006 and the Resolution Agreement in 2011 vested exclusively in Malabu subject only to the terms and conditions in the allocation;
“That the interest of the FGN at the time of resolution in 2011was to ensure the payment of the signature bonus on the block and that the block was developed to enable the country earn revenue through royalty and taxes;
“That consistent with Nigerian law governing oil and gas and the allocation of oil blocks, the signature bonus due and payable to the FGN amounting to $210 million was duly paid and acknowledged. The taxes and royalties associated with oil produced from the block are also now being paid. This is contrary to the lies and misinformation being peddled that Nigeria was short changed in the transaction.
“That at all times material to the resolution of the disputes between Malabu/Shell/FGN one Mohammed Sani who now claims to be Mohammed Abacha was not a party to the transaction and did not disclose any personal or family interest in OPL 245 to the administration of Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar GCFR or to the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR;
“That Mohammed Abacha did not participate in the negotiations leading to the resolution or settlement agreements;
“That Mr. Abacha surfaced only after the tripartite resolution of the matter between Shell/Malabo and the FGN to request that the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation should prevail on the main shareholder of Malabu to respect their interests in Malabu by paying them part of the proceeds;
“That rather than use the courts to resolve their internal company issues in Malabu, they have resorted to the use of the apparatus of state to settle scores with imaginary perceived enemies.”
The Malabu oil deal has been a subject of controversy in the last few years.
Justice Edis of the Southwalk Crown Court, London last December stopped payment of N17 billion to Malabu oil.
The judge said he was not sure the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration acted in the interest of Nigeria by approving the transfer of the money to Malabu.