Alex Enumah in Abuja
Hearing on various applications on the authentic owner of the Oil Prospecting License 245, otherwise known as Malabu, was on Monday stalled at the Federal High Court in Abuja owing to the inability to serve counsel with hearing notice.
When the matter was called yesterday, Reuben Atabo (SAN) counsel to Mohammed Abacha, son of the late former military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, requested for an adjournment to allow for service of hearing notices on the first, second, third, sixth and seventh defendants.
Abacha had approached the court, asking it to stop the sale of a $13.5 billion deep water project located in the controversial oil block OPL 245.
Atabo, acknowledged that several adjournments had been granted on the matter and prayed the court for a further postponement of the case on the grounds that other defendants might not have been informed of yesterday’s adjourned date for hearing of respondents briefs.
He said: “To allow for fair hearing, a further adjournment should be granted.”
Consequently, trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, adjourned till February 13, 2018, for hearing of respondents’ briefs.
The OPL 245, regarded as one of Africa’s richest oil blocks with an estimated over 9billion barrels of crude, was controversially awarded to Malabu in 1998 by the then Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete.
However Etete, former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke; Aliyu Abubakar, ENI SPA, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafati Sebestiano and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited are to face criminal trial for conspiring and defrauding the federal government of billions of naira in the shady oil bloc deal.
Specifically, Adoke was accused of playing a major role in the fraudulent deal that saw the transfer of ownership of the disputed OPL 245, to two multinational oil companies, Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company and Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd.
The charges are part of an international collaboration to ensure that all those who took part in the $1.1bn Oil Prospecting License (OPL 245) scandal are brought to justice.