Former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke has said that three former Presidents endorsed the Settlement Agreement on the controversial $1.6billion Malabu Oil Block.
They are Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Adoke said none of the three Presidents has disowned the agreement.
He listed ex-ministers who played key roles in resolving the conflict on the oil block. They are a former AGF and Minister of Justice Bayo Ojo, former Minister of Petroleum Resources King Edmund Daukoru; ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and former Minister of Finance Olusegun Aganga.
He said the recent actions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) tended to impugn the Settlement Agreement.
He insisted that the Ministry of Justice, which he superintended, only facilitated the Settle Agreement.
The EFCC has filed charges against Adoke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Dan Etete, a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar and eight others over alleged $801million bribe in respect of the auctioning of Malabu Oil Block.
The others are Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited; Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited; ENI SPA; Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Ralph Wetzels(ex- Director of SNEPCO), Casula Roberto(Italian) whilst being the Director of AGIP; Pujatti Stefeno(Italian) while being the Director in AGIP; and Burafato Sebastiano(Italian).
But Adoke, in a March 6 letter to Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN), asked the AGF to determine whether he had committed any offence for carrying out presidential approvals.
He asked Malami to tell Nigerians whether his predecessors in office from 2006 to May 2015 acted in the national interest when they brokered and implemented the Settlement Agreement.
He urged Malami to clarify to Nigerians the import of Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) with respect to the vesting of all the Executive powers of the Federation in the President to exercise by himself and or through his Ministers and appointees.
He said: “It will be recalled that the Terms of Settlement encapsulating details of the Settlement between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Malabu Oil & Gas Limited (Malabu) was executed on 30th November, 2006.
“The Terms of Settlement, which was later, reduced into a Consent Judgment of the Federal High Court; Abuja was brokered by our predecessor in office, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN and signed on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria by the then Honourable Minister of State, for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
”When I assumed office on 10th April 2010, I inherited a Consent Judgment, which had undergone the scrutiny of three Presidents and Attorneys General. I was therefore restricted to the implementation of the Settlement as the issue of ownership of OPL 245 had already been resolved in favour of Malabu by the Terms of Settlement dated 30th November 2006 and the Consent Judgment of the FHC, Abuja.
“I also inherited an on-going Investor/State Arbitration at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) in which SNUD had initiated arbitral proceedings against the FGN claiming damages in excess of $2billion for taking back OPL 245 re-awarded to them when Malabu’s title was initially revoked by the FGN. SNUD’s claims were also premised on the fact that they had substantially de-risked the Block.
“Malabu also instituted Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2003, before the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja to enforce its claim to OPL 245. Although, the suit was struck out by the FHC, Malabu lodged Appeal No. CA/A/99M/2006 before the Court Appeal, Abuja, Division.
“During the pendency of the Appeal, an amicable settlement was entered into between Malabu and the Federal Government and in compliance with the Terms of Settlement executed by the Parties on the 30th of November 2006, OPL 245 was fully and completely restored to Malabu in consideration for its withdrawal of the Appeal. (Copy of the Terms of Settlement dated 30th November is attached as Annexure ‘A’)
”Apparently dissatisfied with the Terms of Settlement between the Federal Government and Malabu, SNUD commenced arbitral proceedings against the decision of the Federal Government to restore/re-allocate OPL 245 to Malabu at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC, and made representations to government on the impending arbitration. It is instructive to note that SNUD’s claim before ICSID was in excess of US$2billion. It also commenced a suit against the Government before the Federal High Court, Abuja
“Although, several meetings were held between the Presidency, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, SNUD and Malabu, to resolve the dispute, no satisfactory outcome was achieved. Attempts were also made in 2007 to resolve the dispute by a Committee comprising the Honourable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Energy, Group Managing Director, NNPC and DPR, during the administration of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, without success
“ To resolve all the contending claims in a satisfactory and holistic manner, due regard was given to the Terms of Settlement of 30th November 2006 which had been reduced to Orders of the Court, the underlying policy of encouraging the participation of indigenous oil and gas companies in the upstream sector of the oil industry and the fact that Shell had substantially de-risked Block 245.
“To accommodate all these interests, a Resolution Agreement dated 29th April, 2011 was executed wherein the FGN agreed to resolve all the issues with Malabu in respect of Block 245 amicably and Malabu also agreed that it would settle and waive any and all claims to any interest in OPL 245. (Copy of the Resolution Agreement is attached as Annexure ‘D’).
“ In furtherance of the Resolution Agreement, SNUD and ENI agreed to pay Malabu through the Federal Government acting as an obligor, the sum of US$ 1,092,040,000 Billion in full and final settlement of any and all claims, interests or rights relating to or in connection with Block 245 and Malabu agreed to settle and waive any and all claims, interests or rights relating to or in connection with Block 245 and also consented to the re-allocation of Block 245 to Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited (NAE) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO).
Adoke insisted that the Federal Government and its agencies and officials only served as facilitators of the Settlement Agreement.
He added: “It is therefore quite evident from the foregoing that the role played by the Federal Government, its agencies and officials in relation to Block 245 was essentially that of facilitator of the resolution of a long standing dispute between Malabu and SNUD over the ownership and right to operate Block 245.
“At all times material to the resolution of the dispute, the Federal Government was not aware of any subsisting third party interest in Malabu’s claim to OPL 245 and neither did any person or company apply to be joined in the negotiations as an interested party.
”I wish to reiterate that the resolution of the lingering dispute over Block 245 was in furtherance of Government’s demonstrable commitment to attract investment in the oil and gas sector of the economy and encourage genuine investors (local and foreign) by creating the enabling environment for their business to thrive.
“ The Office of the Attorney General superintended over the process to ensure that the implementation was holistic by ensuring:
(a) that the requisite Presidential Approvals were sought and obtained;
(b) that all the relevant MDAs such the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Finance, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were involved in the resolution and final implementation of the Settlement;
(c) that the relevant Agreements such as OPL 245 Resolution and Re-allocation Agreements were duly executed by line Ministers and Departments;
(d) that the Signature bonus was duly paid to the Federal Government of Nigeria as required by law, and
(e) that disbursements from the escrow account were jointly approved by the Federal Government and SNUD.”
Adoke urged the AGF to find out why he was singled out by the Economic and Financial Crimes for prosecution.
He said: “ In view of the foregoing, I anxiously want to know where I went wrong that I have been singled out by the EFCC for prosecution.
”I wish to use this medium to appeal to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation to be mindful of his overarching powers over public prosecution and the need to ensure that state institutions do not become persecutors or instruments in the hands of those pursuing personal vendetta.
“The Constitution and the traditions of our noble profession demand your oversight over public prosecution. Consequently, if you find that I had breached my Oath of Office or abused my office, please do not hesitate to bring me to justice.
“However, if it is the contrary, as I strongly believe, that certain individuals who had vowed to even scores with me are now being aided by state institutions such as the EFCC; I deserve protection from these unwarranted attacks and dehumanising treatment that I am being subjected to merely because I chose to serve my fatherland.”
Adoke faulted the filing of separate charges against him by the EFCC and asked Malami to speak out.
He said: “As the Chief Law Officer of the Federation, you have a public duty to speak on this matter so that Nigerians would know whether I acted mala fide or abused my office in the entire transaction leading to the final implementation of the Settlement.”