Malabu $1.1 billion scandal: Court orders return of oil block to FG

Federal High Court, Lagos

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has secured a court order mandating the return of OPL 245 to the Nigerian government.

The order was granted by Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court on Thursday morning, pending “the conclusion of investigations…” by the EFCC.

OPL 245, considered the largest oil block in Africa with over 9 billion barrels of crude, has been a subject of investigations in at least five different countries.

Two oil giants, Shell and Eni, in 2011 paid about $1.1 billion into a Nigerian government account in London to take control of the oil block.

Over 70 per cent of the money was subsequently transferred in controversial circumstances into Malabu accounts controlled by a former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.

Etete transferred over half of what he got into accounts of phoney companies controlled by Aliyu Abubakar, a man wanted for fraud in Italy and whom the EFCC already charged for fraud.

Abubakar is believed to be a front for several top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration including  Jonathan and his attorney general, Bello Adoke.

Both men have denied any wrongdoings.

The EFCC had in December last year filed fraud and money laundering charges against Messrs. Etete, Abubakar, and Adoke.

A week after, Italian prosecutors also indicated their decision to file charges against Shell and Eni, their officials, and  Etete for their roles in the scandal.