Blames complexities for delay
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has said investigations are still ongoing into the controversial $1.1 billion award of Oil Prospecting Licence 245, also know as the Malabu oil deal, with no conclusive position by the federal government.
Malami said this yesterday when he appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee mandated to re-open investigations into the sale of the controversial oil block, where he added that the government would not take a position until all complexities in the deal are resolved.
The complexities, he stated, are borne from the several national and international litigations among the parties to the OPL 245.
The federal government, Agip, Shell, Malabu Oil and Gas, and several individuals had entered litigation and agreements, at different times, Malami told the committee chaired by Hon. Razak Atunwa (Kwara APC).
Within Malabu Oil itself, there were different interests which made it hard to determine which parties signed which agreements, he added.
“We have multiple contentions. There is Mohammed Abacha, we have Dan Etete, Atiku Abubakar, Hassan Adamu; they are all laying claims to entities,” Malami noted and added that the complex history of the oil well itself, has led to the revocation and re-award of its licence several times.
“So, whatever I am providing to this committee is provisional. The investigation is ongoing and it is not conclusive. There are many areas to look at. We will take a comprehensive position and revert to the committee as soon as possible,” the AGF said.
At the hearing which was attended by the Abacha and Oyewole Fasawe, who are shareholders in Malabu Oil, the AGF noted that some available information have already shown that there were irregularities.
The committee chairman, Atunwa noted that the ‘lucrative’ OPL 245 occupies an area of 1,958 square kilometres and holds up to 9.2 billion barrels of crude oil.
“This is a highly controversial allocation of perhaps the biggest oil bloc in Africa. There is a lot at stake on this issue and the credibility and revenue for this country is at stake. However complex the situation may be, the law is able to deal with it. The House is also able to make enquiries and make recommendation on the matter,” he said.
Atunwa added that the hearing, even though not a substantive one, is intended to identify culpable persons in the matter of the OPL 245, and to unveil the processes that led to the award.
“The powers of the former minister to award the oil bloc in not unfettered. The House has the power to examine,” he said.
The committees members who had frowned at the absence of representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), insisted they must appear.
The hearing was adjourned to October 18, 2016.