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President Jonathan, Diezani, Gusau, Adoke, Others Shared $1.3b In Malabu Oil Fraud—Italian Prosecutors

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  • President Jonathan, Diezani, Gusau, Adoke, Others Shared $1.3b In Malabu Oil Fraud

An investigative report by Italian prosecutors has alleged that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, former Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Attorney Generals Mohammed Adoke and Bayo Ojo, former Minister of Defense and ex-National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau as well as numerous other senior government officials shared hundreds of millions of dollars. In an indictment obtained by SaharaReporters, Italian prosecutors alleged that Mr. Jonathan and several officials of his government as well as top corporate officials of international oil firms, Eni and Shell, met several times between 2010 and 2011 to seal the fraudulent Malabu deal and split a massive loot running into hundreds of millions between Nigerian government and public interests as well as corporate officials.

The indictment shows that former Abacha-era Minister, Dauzia Loya Etete, better known as “Dan Etete” and his Malabu company were at the center of the scam that involved the sale of an oil bloc named OPL 245 he illicitly acquired in 1998. According to Italian prosecutors, Mr. Etete had engaged Zubelum Chukwuemeka Obi to source for buyers of the oil bloc. Subsequently, Italian oil giant, Eni, the parent of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd (NAOC) and Royal Dutch Shell, contracted to acquire 100 percent of the 245 oil block for a deal that totaled $1.3 billion. However, Italian prosecutors are alleging that much of the funds was set aside for fraudulent payments to Mr. Jonathan and other government officials as well as corporate executives working for Eni and Shell.

Apart from naming numerous officials of the global oil firms, the indictment also fingered Mr. Jonathan, Mr. Etete, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Mr. Adoke, former NSA Gusau, Mr. Obi, Mr. Ojo, and Alhaji Abubakar as beneficiaries from the Malabu fraud.

Among the corporate players named in the Malabu deal are Paolo Scaroni, Eni’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, and Claudio Descalzi, the Managing Director of Eni’s Exploration and Production Division since July 2008. The indictment states that Mr. Scaroni “agreed to intermediation by Obi,” and was constantly informed by Mr. Descalzi of the progress of developments in the deal. In addition, he and Mr. Descalzi met then President Jonathan in person twice, “both during the finalization of the agreements (13 August 2010) and at the final stage, during an electoral campaign rally in Nigeria on 22 February 2011.”

According to the indictment, Mr. Descalzi maintained steady contact with Mr. Obi and two key Eni employees in Nigeria, Roberto Casula and Vincenzo Armanna, who helped coordinate a deal in which Mr. Jonathan and other senior officials of his government would receive illegal commissions in exchange for approving the Malabu oil deal. Mr. Descalzi also coordinated with his Shell counterpart, Malcolm Brinded, on the $1.3 billion price tag for the oil block.

Other Eni and Shell officials also attended meetings with President Jonathan in Abuja on August 13, 2010 regarding the OPL245 deal and, again, on February 22, 2011. In addition, the indictment states that the two oil companies’ executives attended meetings from November 18 to 25, 2010, at Mr. Adoke’s offices in Abuja. Apart from Mr. Adoke, Alhaji Aliyu Abubakar also known as “AAA Oil” was also present at the meetings during which, according to Italian prosecutors, “the financial conditions of the deal (1.3 billion) were agreed.”

The firms’ executives also met with Mr. Dan Etete in Milan, Italy from November 30 to December 1, 2010 and finalized issues “relating to the commissions.” Mr. Armanna, the Senior Advisor of Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd and as Eni Vice President for upstream sub-Saharan activities, reportedly played a major role in the scam. The indictment accuses him of maintaining contact with Mr. Obi and Mr. Etete, even though he was “fully aware of the destination of most of the sums paid by Eni to the political sponsors of the operation” and that some executives of Eni and Shell, himself included, were to receive “significant sums” from the deal. He is also accused of coordinating the fraudulent deal with his Shell counterpart, Peter Robinson, and hosting meetings at his residence in Nigeria with Shell executives. Mr. Armanna reportedly “supervised the Eni negotiating team’s drafting of the ‘resolution agreements.’” In addition, he met with Mr. Adoke numerous times to discuss the illicit transfers.

Italian prosecutors accuse Mr. Armanna of facilitating the Nigerian government’s active role in the Malabu deal, including the payment “of €1,092,040,000 intended for Etete, in addition to the ‘signature bonus’ of $207,960,000.” The indictment states that he coordinated with Gianfranco Falcioni and Bayo Ojo to transfer funds paid by Eni to the account of the Nigerian government at JP Morgan Chase London. As part of his reward, Mr. Armanna “subsequently received from Bayo Ojo the sum of €917,952 with the false payment reference of ‘Armanna inheritance.’”

The indictment states that, on October 30, 2010, Ciro Antonio Pagano, the NAE’s Managing Director, signed his firm’s offer to Raffeisen Bank, Obi’s advisor, for the company’s 100% acquisition of Malabu’s “participating interest” in OPL 245. The payments comprised $207,960,000 to the Nigerian government as the signature bonus and $1,053,000,000 directly to Malabu.

The indictment names Mr. Obi as shareholder in the company Energy Venture Partners Ltd (EVP), and as the person “assigned by Etete to find a buyer for block 245.” Italian prosecutors allege that Mr. Obi agreed with Etete that the “so-called ‘excess price’ – between the sum that Eni/NAE was undertaking to pay and the amount accepted by Etete, would be withheld by Obi, with the expectation that the aforementioned premium would be distributed among Mr. Obi, his sponsors, Di Nardo and Bisignani, Eni and Shell executives and “Nigerian government officials, in particular the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke.”

According to the indictment, Mr. Obi having met several times with Attorney General Adoke, and maintained direct relations with the AGF as well as with “persons connected to him, specifically Roland Ewubare and Oghogo Akpata.” He also maintained relations with Ms. Alison-Madueke and NSA Gusau, said the indictment.

The document also accuses Ednan Tofik Ogly Agaev of agreeing to a fee of 6% for his work as intermediary between Mr. Etete and Shell. It said Mr. Agaev, a Russian and former MI6 operative, subsequently worked for Shell as Senior Business Advisor and Strategic Investment Advisor. He is accused of meeting NSA Aliyu Gusau “on a number of occasions and having obtained information from him on the expectations of President Jonathan and other members of the government.”

The document describes Mr. Etete as “the fraudulent holder of the OPL245 exploration license since 1998.” He is also accused of “having received authorization from Minister of Petroleum Alison-Madueke to dispose of 100% of OPL245, following the decision of President Jonathan.” In addition, he “conducted confidential negotiations with Aliyu Abubakar, who acted as an agent of Goodluck Jonathan,” and “accepted, under government pressure, the total sum of $1.3 billion, established by Eni and Shell.”

Italian prosecutors also reported that Mr. Etete “received $801.5 million from the Nigerian government under the FGN Resolution Agreement, and having transferred to Abubakar Aliyu, directly or through companies attributable to him, funds of approximately $520 million, intended to be paid to President Jonathan, members of the government and other Nigerian government officials.”

The indictment also states that the Malabu deal involved an agreement that Dan Etete would use much of the funds from the sale of the oil bloc “for his own benefit and that of a large number of other beneficiaries to purchase property, aeroplanes, armored cars, etc.).”

The indictment added that “President Goodluck Jonathan and other members of the Nigerian government in office at the time, including Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Attorney General Muhammed Bello Adoke, National Security Advisor Aliyu Gusau, a member of the House of Representatives, Umar Bature, former Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah, and “holders of influence over President Jonathan and other members of the government” received huge payoffs from the Malabu deal.

Saharareporters

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Russia and North Korea Revive Military Pact, Heightening Tensions with US

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have revived a Cold War-era military pact.

The agreement, signed on Wednesday during Putin’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years, commits the two nations to provide immediate military assistance to each other if either is attacked.

This development is likely to exacerbate tensions with the United States and its allies.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty, as the pact is officially named, represents the most powerful treaty signed between the two countries, according to Kim.

“This treaty elevates our ties to an alliance,” he declared during the signing ceremony. The deal stipulates that if either nation is invaded by an armed force, the other will provide military and other assistance “with all the means at its disposal,” in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the laws of both nations.

Putin’s visit to Pyongyang and the signing of the pact come on the heels of Kim’s trip to Russia in September, an event that has already resulted in a notable increase in arms transfers between the two countries, as confirmed by satellite imagery.

Despite the mounting evidence, both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied any such exchanges.

The renewed military alliance marks a significant escalation in the strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea, which had been relatively dormant since the end of the Cold War.

Analysts suggest that this move is a clear message of defiance to Western powers, particularly the United States, which has been involved in ongoing disputes with both nations over various geopolitical issues.

“The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty is for defensive purposes,” Kim stated, but experts warn that the alliance increases the risks for the US and its partners in responding to provocations from Moscow and Pyongyang. The treaty not only includes mutual defense commitments but also outlines plans to enhance cooperation in trade and investment, further solidifying the bilateral relationship.

Russian officials emphasized that the pact is a natural progression of the countries’ shared interests.

“This treaty is a testament to the deepening strategic and military cooperation between Russia and North Korea,” said Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister. “It is essential for maintaining regional stability and countering external threats.”

The US and its allies have expressed grave concerns over the implications of this agreement. “This treaty significantly alters the security landscape in East Asia,” stated a senior US State Department official. “It underscores the need for vigilance and reinforces the importance of our alliances in the region.”

Military analysts are closely watching the developments, noting that the alliance could embolden both nations to take more aggressive stances on the international stage.

“With this treaty, North Korea gains a powerful ally, while Russia secures a foothold in East Asia,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It is a strategic maneuver that complicates the geopolitical calculus for the US and its partners.”

The reactivation of the military pact also comes at a time when Russia is deeply involved in the conflict in Ukraine, where it faces significant opposition from Western nations.

North Korea’s unreserved support for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as articulated by Kim, further aligns the two nations against common adversaries.

As the international community grapples with the potential ramifications of this treaty, it is clear that the renewed alliance between Russia and North Korea represents a formidable challenge to the current global order.

The coming months will likely see increased diplomatic activity as nations reassess their strategies in light of this development.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Begins New Term Under Coalition Government

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Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for another term as South Africa’s president on Wednesday, the beginning of a new era under a coalition government.

The ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheater in the Union Buildings saw Ramaphosa take the oath of office before Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The event was attended by prominent dignitaries, including Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Democratic Republic of Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi, and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, and was marked by a 21-gun salute and an air force flyover.

Ramaphosa’s reappointment comes three weeks after elections saw his party, the African National Congress (ANC), lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid.

The ANC secured just over 40% of the vote on May 29, with millions of former supporters either backing a splinter party led by ex-leader Jacob Zuma or abstaining due to dissatisfaction over high levels of poverty, unemployment, and crime.

In his inauguration address, Ramaphosa emphasized the resilience of South African democracy and the need for unity.

“The resilience of our democracy has once more been tested, and the people have spoken loudly that they choose peace and democracy over conflict,” he said. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single political party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations.”

The ANC’s unprecedented electoral outcome necessitated a power-sharing agreement with long-time rivals. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and four other parties have agreed to join a government of national unity, supporting Ramaphosa’s leadership in exchange for cabinet and parliamentary positions.

This coalition is expected to prioritize economic growth, investment attraction, structural reforms, and sustainable management of state finances.

The rand strengthened to a level stronger than 18 per dollar for the first time in over ten months, and Johannesburg’s benchmark equity index reached a record high on Wednesday.

Market optimism is driven by the inclusion of business-friendly parties in the government, anticipated to bolster Ramaphosa’s reform agenda aimed at addressing power shortages, logistical challenges, and other economic impediments.

Despite criticism in his previous term for his consultative approach, which opponents labeled as indecisive, Ramaphosa reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive governance.

“Those who would like a president that is dictatorial, who is adventurous, who is reckless, will not find that in me,” he stated last month. “In me they will find a president who wants to consult. All these processes have often been seen as, ‘he is weak, he is not decisive.’ I am decisive, but I want to take people along with.”

The new coalition government faces significant challenges, including negotiating policy differences and accommodating politically powerful figures within the ANC and its partners.

The DA has already expressed concerns over the ANC’s uncosted national health insurance plan and its foreign policy stance.

Susan Booysen, director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, noted the complexities ahead. “South Africa is really moving into this with minimal on-the-ground preparation and justification,” she said. “The devil is going to be in the exact detail. Once cabinet is announced, some basic agreement will have to be reached on policy positions and on what the red-line issues will be.”

As Ramaphosa begins his new term, the nation watches closely, hopeful that this coalition government can navigate the intricate landscape of South African politics and bring about the much-needed reforms and stability.

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Fubara Appoints and Swears in Caretaker Chairmen for All 23 Rivers State LGAs

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Siminalayi Fubara

Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State has appointed and sworn in new caretaker chairmen for all 23 local government areas.

This significant action followed swiftly after the House of Assembly, led by factional Speaker Victor Jumbo, screened and confirmed the nominees earlier in the day.

The process began on Tuesday when Governor Fubara submitted the list of nominees to the state House of Assembly.

According to a statement by the Clerk of the House, G.M. Gillis-West, the nominees were summoned for an early morning screening at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The rapid succession of events underscores the urgency of the appointments amid ongoing political unrest in the state.

The political crisis intensified as former council chairmen, whose terms had expired, refused to vacate their offices.

This defiance prompted the need for a swift and firm resolution to ensure continuity and stability in local governance.

The swearing-in ceremony took place under tight security at the Executive Council Chambers of the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

Governor Fubara administered the oath of office to the first batch of eleven caretaker chairmen, with subsequent batches following promptly.

The newly appointed caretaker chairmen are:

  • Abua/Odua LGA: Madigai Dickson
  • Ahoada East LGA: Happy Benneth
  • Ahoada West LGA: Mr. Daddy John Green
  • Akuku Toru LGA: Otonye Briggs
  • Andoni LGA: Reginald Ekaan
  • Asari Toru LGA: Orolosoma Amachree
  • Bonny LGA: Alabota Anengi Barasua
  • Degema LGA: Anthony Soberekon
  • Eleme LGA: Brain Gokpa
  • Emouha LGA: David Omereji
  • Etche LGA: John Otamiri
  • Gokana LGA: Kenneth Kpeden
  • Ikwerre LGA: Darlington Orji
  • Khana LGA: Marvin Yobana
  • Obio/Akpor LGA: Emmanuel Dogwo
  • Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA: Vincent Anyanwu
  • Ogu/Bolo LGA: Margaret Ezenwa
  • Okrika LGA: Chizoba Onyebuchi
  • Omuma LGA: Cynthia Amadi
  • Opobo/Nkoro LGA: Solomon Dokubo
  • Oyigbo LGA: Chima Nwafor
  • Port Harcourt LGA: Isaac Udochukwu
  • Tai LGA: Ruth Michael

Governor Fubara expressed confidence in the capabilities of the newly appointed chairmen and emphasized the importance of their roles in maintaining stability and driving development at the grassroots level.

He urged them to prioritize the needs of their communities and work diligently towards improving the quality of life for all residents of Rivers State.

The appointment of the caretaker chairmen is expected to quell the political tensions that have recently plagued the state, ensuring that local governance continues smoothly and efficiently.

As Rivers State navigates this transitional period, the administration remains committed to fostering a stable and prosperous environment for its citizens.

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