The House of Representatives on Wednesday insisted that former President Goodluck Jonathan must give evidence on his role in the controversial $1 billion MalabuOil deal.
A statement issued by the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee probing the alleged corruption, malpractices and breach of process in the award of OPL 245, Hon. Razak Atunwa, said they would write the former President to come and defend himself on the allegations.
The statement reads: “The Ad-hoc Committee on OPL 245 met to consider the progress of the Committee’s work and the next steps to be taken.
“The Committee noted that it had conducted extensive investigation into the OPL 245 saga and that it is drawing to a close.
“However, the Committee is of the view that in the interest of thoroughness, natural justice and fairplay, it is imperative that evidence should be taken from former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In arriving at this decision, the Committee took account of the following facts:
“Mr. Jonathan was the President at the material time the ministers brokered the deal that lead to the allegation of $1bn funds diversion.
Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan in Italy.
“A UK court judgment in relation to an application to return part of the money being restrained, castigated the Jonathan administration as not having acted in the best interest of Nigeria in relation to the deal.
“The Attorney-General of the Federation at the material time, Mohammed Bello Adoke, has recently instituted proceedings in court wherein he pleaded that all his actions were as instructed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, the Committee has decided to request that former President Goodluck Jonathan give evidence on his role in the matter. The Secretariat will write to him asking for his response and submissions,” Atunwa said.
Meanwhile an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing into an application filed by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited against the Nigerian government and other respondents till October 31.
The case which was filed by Mohammed Abacha, son of late Nigerian military dictator, Sani Abacha, on behalf of Malabu had been adjourned in May for hearing on Wednesday but was further shifted because the court failed to sit.
Abacha is challenging the return of Oil Prospecting Licence; OPL 245, to Shell and AGIP exploration companies by the Federal Government in 2011.
He is asking the court to declare the initial transfer of the oil well to Shell and AGIP as null and void.
His grounds are that he was an original co-owner of Malabu when it was controversially awarded the lucrative oil block in 1998 during his father’s military regime, but that he was illegally excluded when the company transferred the oil well to the two multinational oil companies.
But in a preliminary objection filed at the previous sitting, the federal government said Malabu’s ownership of the oil well ended in April 2011.
Those listed as respondents in the suit are the Federal Government, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Shell Nigeria Ultra-Deep Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd, Nigerian Agip Exploration Company Ltd, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete.
A court order in January transferring the ownership of the oil well from Shell and AGIP to the Federal Government was revoked in March.
OPL 245, regarded as one of Africa’s richest oil blocks with an estimated over nine billion barrels of crude, was controversially awarded to Malabu in 1998 by the then petroleum minister, Etete, who partly owned the company through a fictional character, Kwekwu Amafegha.
The block was controversially sold to oil giants, Shell and ENI, in 2011 with a large chunk of the $1.1billion paid for it ending up in private pockets, including those of some Nigerian government officials.
The matter has already led to indictments of Shell, ENI, Etete and others in Italy and Nigeria while investigations are ongoing in other countries.