From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee would soon summon former president Goodluck Jonathan, to appear before it to explain his role in the controversial award of OPL 245 oil bloc licence, otherwise known as Malabu oil deal.
Razak Atunwa, chairman of the 16-man committee made up of 10 All Progressives Congress (APC) and six Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, said Jonathan was being invited because his appearance was key to resolving the controversy surrounding the deal, in which $1.3 billion was reportedly paid by international oil companies.
Atunwa said at a press briefing that the former president would soon be written to appear and state his role in the allocation of the contentious oil well.
Atunwa said the panel members have mandated the clerk to write the former president.
He explained that the Committee, having conducted extensive investigations into the OPL 245 deal, deemed it proper to conclude work on the matter with a testimony from the ex-president in the interest of thoroughness, natural justice and fair play.
According to Atunwa: “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 diversion of funds;
•Mr Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan in Italy;
•A U.K. 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 pleads that all his actions were as instructed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.”
Following media reports on plans of the House to invite him for questioning, the former president had denied receiving bribe with regard to the deal.
The ex-president who spoke through his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, debunked claims that he received a $200 million kick-back from the $1.3 billion payments made by international oil companies for access to the highly lucrative oil bloc.
Before yesterday’s briefing, Atunwa had in April stressed that the former president’s testimony would greatly assist in conducting a conclusive investigation on the matter, especially as recent events within and outside the country linked him to the deal.
Daily Sun had also reported on Wednesday April 11, that the Committee recommended that Jonathan, as the country’s leader at the period when the Federal Government tried to bring an end to the controversy around the sale of OPL 245, should explain how government arrived at the decision to pay out $1.1 billion.
The medium equally reported that the committee had recommended that former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke be put up for trial for her role in the deal.
Others recommended for prosecution by the ad hoc committee include the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke who allegedly drafted the agreement, one Mr. Abubakar Alleel who was said to have acted as a conduit through which the money was disbursed, SHELL/ ENI/NAE for their role in the fraud particularly as they were already facing investigations on the issue abroad, and Olusegun Aganga, former finance minister.
The recommendation that Alison-Madueke be tried was on the ground that the transfer of the said funds was approved through an escrow account allegedly opened by her and Adoke through two Nigerian banks (names withheld).
But Adoke has denied any wrongdoing, saying the transaction was approved by former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan.
The former minister in a March 6 letter to his successor, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said he only implemented presidential directives on the matter.
But in a sharp response, Obasanjo warned Adoke to desist from linking him to the controversial deal, as he did not participate in any corrupt act.
About $1.1 billion of the money was paid directly into a Nigerian government account with JP Morgan during Jonathan administration in 2011, while about $200 million had been paid by Shell as signature bonus a few years earlier.
Most of the $1.1 billion ended up in private accounts with an estimated $801 million directly lodged into the account of Dan Etete, former petroleum minister who was convicted for money laundering in France.
Former petroleum minister, Dan Etete, who was appointed by late dictator Sani Abacha, acquired “OPL 245” through his company, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited while in office in 1998.
The Malabu oil scam has been making headlines for years and is being described as one of the largest corruption scandals ever witnessed in the global oil industry.
The controversial $1.3 billion deal revolves around “OPL 245,” which is believed to be the most valuable oil field in West Africa.
The scam is being investigated in Nigeria, Italy and Netherlands due to the participation of oil giants Shell and ENI.