I facilitated settlement of $1.09b Malabu Oil dispute, says Adoke
A former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke(SAN), has said his involvement in the $1.09b Malabu oil block deal was only that of a facilitator.
He said he facilitated amicable settlement between two parties over a long-standing dispute because of the economic implications for the country.
He said his role was “without any personal gain to me or to any other person”.
Besides, said Adoke, the Terms of Settlement, upon which the Consent Judgment was predicated, were executed as far back as November 30, 2006.
He said his intervention in the settlement of the dispute was motivated by the need to avoid a colossal cost to the Federal Government as awarded by the courts.
He said he had a copy of the Presidential approval directing that Malabu be paid US$ 1,092,040,000 from the Escrow Account with J.P. Morgan.
Adoke made these disclosures in an affidavit in support of the matter he filed against Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN).
The ex-Minister is asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to declare his ongoing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) on account of carrying out the lawful directives of the former President as illegal, null and void.
The Federal Government had seized Malabu Oil Block from four oil giants pending the conclusion of investigation and trial of those implicated in the $1.09billion deal.
The oil firms are Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO), Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.
On December 20, 2001, the EFCC filed nine charges bordering on alleged mismanagement of $1.09b against Adoke( SAN), a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete and seven others.
The others are a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Rocky Top Resources Limited; Imperial Union Limited; Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, Group Construction Limited and Megatech Engineering Limited.
The nine-count charge was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja by a team of lawyers, including Johnson Ojogbane, C.C. Nduese, H.M. Mohammed, and Victor Ukagwu.
But Adoke, in an application through his counsel, Mr. Kanu Agabi(SAN), said he only acted as a facilitator of a settlement agreement by disputing parties.
He listed the disputing parties as Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; the President and Commander in Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Federal Government of Nigeria; the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; the Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and the Department of Petroleum Resources and Attorney General of the Federation.
He said the Terms of Settlement were entered into as far back as 30th November 2006 to amicably settle Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/ 420/2003 and Appeal No: CA/A/99/M/06 brought by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited against other respondents.
The affidavit said in part: “The role played by the Plaintiff as Minister of the Government of the federation, acting on the directives and approvals of the President was that of a facilitator of an amicable settlement between two disputing parties over a long standing dispute with obvious economic implications for the country.
“The decision to implement the terms of settlement was ‘largely informed by the magnitude of claims against the FGN arising from the allocation of OPL 245 to Malabu; the revocation of the Block in a less than transparent manner and the subsequent re-award of the same block to Shell/NNPC under a Production Sharing Arrangement; the substantial de-risking of Block 245 by Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD) with the knowledge and approval of the FGN, and the need to prevent the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Arbitration initiated by SNUD from progressing to conclusion in view of its obvious negative consequences for the country.
“The entire involvement and role played by the Adoke in the settlement process and implementation was in furtherance of the directives and approvals of ex-President Jonathan in the exercise of his executive powers as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Adoke said he carried out the Presidential directives “diligently, faithfully, impartially and in good faith and without any personal gain to himself or to any other person, except as was agreed to by the known parties to the dispute.
“That the plaintiff (Adoke) verily believes that he did not exceed the directives/approval given to him by the President and did nothing wrong to warrant his prosecution on account of the implementation of the Settlement Agreement.”
He stated that Malabu had petitioned President Jonathan on 3rd June 2013 demanding payment of US$ 1,092,040,000 being the sum due payable to them under the Resolution Agreement in response to which the president approved on 17th June 2013.
He said: “The presidential approval directing that Malabu be paid the sum of US$ 1,092,040,000 from the Escrow Account with J.P. Morgan and Malabu’s petition dated 3rd June 2013 is hereby attached.”
Adoke told the court that although Malabu was issued a licence for Block 245 on 9th April 2001, the Federal Government subsequently revoked the licence on 2nd July 2001.
He said that following the revocation, Exxon-Mobil and Shell were then invited in April 2002 to bid for the same OPL 245 as contractors on a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), despite the existence of subsisting contractual agreements between Malabu and SNUD with respect to OPL 245.
He said: “Dissatisfied with the revocation, Malabu contended among other things that the circumstances leading to the revocation of its licence on Block 245 was less than transparent and smacked of inducement and Connivance from SNUD, which at the material time was its technical partner. It was also contended by Malabu that the subsequent re-award of OPL 245 to SNUD by the FGN was done under questionable circumstances.
“That Malabu then petitioned the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum to look into the matter and the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum found no rational basis for the revocation and reprimanded Shell for its complicity. The Committee also directed the Federal Government to withdraw the re-award it made to Shell and return OPL 245 to Malabu, the original allotee of the Block.
“That in addition to its recourse to the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum, Malabu also instituted Suit No. FHC/ABJ/Cs/420/2003 before the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja against the Federal Government of Nigeria to enforce its claim to OPL 245.
“That although, the suit was struck out by the FHC, Malabu proceeded to lodge Appeal No. CA/A/99M/2006, before the Court of Appeal, Abuja, Division in 2006 and that it was during the pendency of the Appeal that a settlement hereof was executed as a consideration for withdrawal of the Appeal by Malabu.
“That consequent upon Exhibit 2, the then Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, communicated the restoration of the OPL 245 to Malabu vide letter dated 2nd December 2006.
“That following Malabu was expected to pay the new signature bonus in the sum of US$210,000,000 less the $2,000,000,00 it had previously paid. Malabu accordingly released the FGN from liability on account of the actions taken in respect OPL 245.”
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