The Federal Government has seized a private jet bought by Dan Etete, a former Minister of Petroleum, with some of the alleged proceeds of the $1.3billion Malabu oil deal.
The seizure was confirmed to Finance Uncovered by Nigeria’s lawyer, Babatunde Olabode Johnson.
Johnson said that the order was served on the jet’s owner, a company called Tibit Ltd, which has until Tuesday June 9 to file court papers opposing the seizure.
Tibit Ltd is an anonymously owned company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
He said government had been on the trail of the Bombardier 6000 jet with tail number M-MYNA since it landed in Montréal-Trudeau International Airport in Canada on May 29.
The news medium said a Quebec judge granted the seizure order for the aircraft in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The jet had just flown from Dubai via Shannon Airport in the West of Ireland and it is not known whether any passengers were on board.
Etete is alleged to have paid a total of $57million for the jet in 2011. It has a range of up to 6,000 nautical miles and a luxurious interior for 17 passengers.
The jet was part of a spending spree Etete was said to have embarked on after allegedly receiving $336million from the OPL 245 deal.
As Nigerian Petroleum Minister in the last weeks of the late General Sani Abacha military regime in 1998, Etete had effectively awarded the prospecting rights of the OPL 245 block to a company he secretly controlled, Malabu Oil and Gas.
After Abacha’s death, Etete retained the rights as a private citizen until he offloaded them to oil giants, Shell and Eni in 2011, who paid a combined $1.3billion to the Nigerian Government.
Investigators allege that some $336million then trickled down to Etete via several bank accounts and that one of the first payments he made, $54million, was the main installment on the jet.
Also in January, a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gwagwalada, Abuja issued a warrant of arrest against Etete following an ex-parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the deal.
In 2011, the Nigerian Government brokered a deal between Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, the original allotees of the enormously endowed but controversial OPL 245, and Shell/ENI, who wanted to buy the oil block from the company.
While Shell and ENI paid a signature bonus of $210million to the Nigerian Government, they paid $1.1billion to buy 100 per cent interest in the oil block from Malabu.
The entire $1.3billion was transferred to the account of the Nigerian Government in London, United Kingdom, from where Malabu was paid its $1.1billion.
Subsequently, it was alleged that bribes were paid to officials of the government to facilitate the deal, which is considered unfavourable to Nigeria, as the value of the oil block is estimated to be worth much more than what was paid for it.