By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
From Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and perhaps, his first formal reaction to the controversial $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal, former president Olusegun Obasanjo has warned former attorney general of the Federation and Justice minister, Bello Adoke not to drag him into the matter.
The former president also urged Adoke to, honourably, address his role in the malabu oil deal.
Obasanjo handed down the warning during an interview with the media in Addis Ababa and noted that he saw the controversial award of OPL 245 oil field licence as the “height of corruption,” and, as such, could not have participated in negotiations which led to it.
In 1995, then minister of Petroleum Resources, during the military regime of General Sani Abacha, Dan Etete allegedly facilitated payment of $1.1billion to an unregistered company, according to Wikipedia.
The fake company, Malabu Oil and Gas was set up in 1998, using a false identity and was subsequently awarded a lucrative oil block, OPL245, for which he paid only $2 million, out of the $20 million legally required by the Federal Government, at that time.
At the time of Jonathan’s government helping to facilitate the transfer of payment from Shell and Eni to the fake company, Etete was already a convicted felon of money laundering, in France.
Obasanjo’s warning came two days after Adoke insisted that the controversial Malabu oil block agreement was endorsed by the previous administrations of presidents Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
The former president urged Adoke to concentrate on rendering accounts of his actions in public service and stop name-dropping.
“I don’t support that kind of conduct. Adoke and others should not drag me into a matter I know nothing about.
“If they have been asked to answer questions over decisions they took while in office, they should do that honourably.
“They should not bring Obasanjo into an Etete deal. I was not part of any such deal.
“If I hold that view, I could not have approved a deal with Etete. What Etete did was the height of corruption.
“He appropriated the asset to himself illegally, illegitimately and immorally.”
Obasanjo added that it was inappropriate for any government functionary to “appropriate to himself or herself what he or she is in charge of.”
Regardless, in a formal letter to his successor and the current Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Adoke narrated how Terms of Settlement on the controversial oil block were brokered and executed by Obasanjo’s administration before its implementation by Jonathan’s administration.
Adoke also urged Malami to investigate the matter thoroughly and if found wanting, should not hesitate to prosecute him.
Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed charges against Adoke and some former officials over the Malabu oil deal.