The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), a Nigerian non-governmental organization, has petitioned Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, urging him to request that Nigeria be included in the Milan Court’s prosecution of Shell and Eni with respect to the scandalous Malabu deal.
In a petition addressed to Osinbajo, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Asset Recovery Committee, HEDA advised the federal government to request that the Italian court judge should recognize Nigeria as a civil party to the Malabu criminal proceeding in order to request adequate compensation for the damages received by the corrupt scheme.
“The media was awash about six years ago with information on how one of Nigeria’s richest oil fields, OPL 245, was sold in shady circumstances and more than half of the $1.1 billion paid to Malabu Oil and Gas for the procurement was used to bribe Nigerian politicians and intermediaries who helped to secure the controversial deal for both Shell and Eni,” Olanrewaju Suraju, the group’s chairperson, said in the petition.
“Media reports on the issue indicted former President Goodluck Jonathan, some public officials in his administration, some Italian nationals, including the Nigerian Agip Exploration, Shell and Eni.
“Despite overwhelming evidence showing that Shell and Eni are aware that a specified chunk of the money would be paid to a character with a shady background, officials of the companies have denied any wrongdoing in the affair, even when it was revealed that on the 29th of April 2011, Eni transferred $1.092 billion dollars into an escrow account of the Nigerian government at the bank, JPMorgan Chase in London, which is not the usual account of the state but a parallel one.
“Shell has now admitted that it knew that former oil minister Dan Etete, a convicted money-launderer, was involved in Malabu and that the proceeds of the 2011 deal went to Malabu. It is a matter of record that Etete awarded OPL 245 to Malabu when he was himself the oil minister.”
Stating further issues, HEDA said the reports of the Public Prosecution Office at the Ordinary Court of Milan, in its notification of completion of preliminary investigations, highlighted the role of Eni’s former Chief Executive Officer, Paola Scaroni, and his successor, Claudio Descalzi, and indicted them for alleged international corruption over the scandal.
The said investigation report indicted some former Nigerian government officials for formulating what was called the ‘FGN Resolution Agreement’ vesting 50 per cent each to Eni and Shell, in violation of the reserve of allowances guaranteed to so called ‘indigenous companies’ based on government guidelines, with full unconditional exemption from all national taxes, with express limitations and constraints to the power of the Nigerian government and all government bodies or agencies to take over exploitation of the oil block under the Nigerian government’s obligation to ‘hold harmless’ Eni and Shell from any future legal action relating to the block and from possible unfavorable rulings and court costs.
The NGO said, “Evidence abounds via leaked emails that senior executives of the companies were aware that payments made in 2011 for oil block OPL 245, one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks, would go to a convicted money launderer and ex-Nigerian Oil Minister Dan Etete and certain government officials rather than to the suffering people of Nigeria but still selfishly and corruptly went through with the deal that deprived the Nigerian people of billions of dollars.
“This goes to prove that the companies who are purportedly most powerful and profitable oil companies have only masqueraded as leaders of responsible businesses, while robbing countries of their natural resources. As noted, Shell has officially admitted that it had knowledge of Dan Etete’s potential benefit from the deal.
“Currently two countries have opened investigations into the deal and there is a strong chance that Shell and ENI would lose the oil block following the trial on international corruption charges.
“Shell and Eni’s corrupt deal had huge consequences for ordinary Nigerians as right now, according to Global Witness, about five million people across Nigeria face starvation and one in ten children do not live to see their fifth birthday, while the money paid for the block equates to one and a half times what the United Nations says is needed to respond to the country’s current famine crisis. Also, the payment for the deal is worth more than Nigeria’s entire health budget for 2016,” the petition concluded.