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President Insists on $1.04b Malabu Oil Suspects Trial

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  • President Insists on $1.04b Malabu Oil Suspects Trial

The controversy over the Malabu Oil Block(OPL 245) won’t just go away, with President Muhammadu Buhari rejecting Attorney-General Abubakar Malami’s proposal on how to resolve the impasse.

Buhari is insisting on the continuation of the criminal proceedings against some suspects implicated in the OPL 245 scandal.

The President has also directed the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, and the Department of Petroleum Resources to stay action on the development of the oil well.

The OPL245 is an offshore oil block with about nine billion barrels of crude. It was auctioned for $1.3 billion (1.1 billion euros).

Although the Federal Government received only $210 million as Signature Bonus, about $1.092 billion was traced to a London bank account.

The cash was suspected to be slush funds allegedly used to bribe some middle men and politicians.

A former President is accused of benefiting about $200 million from the deal.

But there are concerns that the controversy over Malabu oil block has been lingering since 2001 (17 years) and there is need to resolve it.

The AGF on September 17, 2018 advised the President on four issues related to the oil block.

The AGF’s advised:

Discontinuation of the civil case on OPL 245 in a Milan, Italy court and payment of the counsel hired by the Federal Government for his services; discontinuation of all criminal matters in Nigeria in connection with the oil block;
A recommendation to the President to allow the relevant agencies to sign Heads of Agreement with Eni and Shell; and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR) be mandated to begin the process of using the well.

There are cases on Malabu oil block against former Petroleum Resources Minister Dan Etete, former Attorney-General of the Federation Bello Adoke (SAN), former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, some businessmen and top officials of Eni and Shell.

A source quoted the AGF as saying “there was nothing in the proof of evidence to support the charge of money laundering against suspects and it is therefore impossible for the prosecution to prove the elements, which include illicit funds, transfer for such through various channels to re-introduce same again into the regular financial system as legitimate funds in financial institutions etc.”

“He wanted the Federal Government to pursue Nigeria’s possible investment in the disputed oil blocks rather than trying to repossess it or prosecute former Nigerian government officials or Shell or Agip-Eni chiefs involved in the deal.

“He said the Public Officers Protection Act CAP P41 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 limits liability of Public Officers to a period of three months much naturally come to mind, considering their claim that the acts which are complained of were authorised by the three presidents before this current administration.”

In an October 29, 2018 response, President Buhari, in a memo through his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, rejected the Attorney-General of the Federation’s proposals on the fate of OPL 245.

A highly-placed source in the Presidency said: “The position of the President is that the law must run its full course on the controversy surrounding Malabu Oil Block.

“The position of the President is that there was no way the government would discontinue all the cases in court when a Milan judge on September 20, 2018 has already sentenced two men – a Nigerian, Emeka Obi, and an Italian, Gianluca Di Nardo – to a four-year prison term. They were both negotiators during the sale of controversial OPL 245.

”They were jailed in respect of alleged international corruption case involving oil giants Eni and Shell on OPL 245. In fact, while the court asked Obi to forfeit $98.4 million, Dino lost 21 million Swiss francs ($21.8 million, 18.6 million euros) in fines.

“The decision of the President is that the anti-graft agency, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should sustain its investigation of the Malabu deal in the light of development from Milan Court.

“He has also insisted that all those facing criminal charges in Nigeria on OPL 245 should be allowed to clear their names once and for all. Buhari believes the probe is not targeted at any Nigerian or multi-national firm but it is better to get to the root of the deal.

“If you review the development in Milan, you will realise that there must be more to Malabu Oil Block. How can there be convictions in Italy and we have to discontinue the cases in Nigeria?

“Do not forget that the Federal Government has seized Malabu Oil Block from four oil giants pending the conclusion of investigation and trial of those implicated in the $1.09billion deal. The oil firms are Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO), Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

“Also, the President rejected advice to go ahead with Heads of Agreement with Eni and Shell and a recommendation to mandate the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and DPR to put the block into use. He said all issues must be resolved.”

The EFCC on December 20, 2016 filed nine charges bordering on alleged mismanagement of over $1b Malabu Oil cash against Etete, Adoke, a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited; Rocky Top Resources Limited; Imperial Union Limited; Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, Group Construction Limited and Megatech Engineering Limited.

The nine-count charge was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In another charge, the EFCC sued Etete, Adoke, 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).

All the suspects have denied the charges.

Malabu was issued a licence for OPL 245 on 9th April 2001 but the Federal Government subsequently revoked the licence on 2nd July 2001.

Following the revocation, Exxon-Mobil and Shell were then invited in April 2002 to bid for the same OPL 245 as contractors on a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), despite the existence of subsisting contractual agreements between Malabu and SNUD with respect to OPL 245.

But Malabu faulted the revocation of its licence on Block 245.

It alleged that the revocation was “less than transparent and smacked of inducement and connivance from SNUD”, which at the material time was its technical partner. It was also contended by Malabu that the subsequent re-award of OPL 245 to SNUD by the FGN was done under questionable circumstances.

Based on Malabu’s petition, the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum also found “no rational basis for the revocation” and reprimanded Shell for its “complicity”.

The Committee also directed the Federal Government to withdraw the re-award to Shell and return OPL 245 to Malabu, the original allotee of the Block.

Malabu later instituted a suit before the Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja against the Federal Government of Nigeria to enforce its claim to OPL 245.

Although the suit was struck out by the FHC, Malabu proceeded to lodge Appeal No. CA/A/99M/2006, before the Court of Appeal, Abuja, Division in 2006.

According to records, it was during the pendency of the Appeal that a settlement hereof was executed as a consideration for withdrawal of the Appeal by Malabu.

A memo said: “That consequent upon Exhibit 2, the then Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, communicated the restoration of the OPL 245 to Malabu vide letter dated 2nd December 2006.

“That following Malabu was expected to pay the new signature bonus in the sum of US$210,000,000 less the $2,000,000,00 it had previously paid. Malabu accordingly released the FGN from liability on account of the actions taken in respect OPL 245.”

Earlier, a Settlement Agreement signed by a former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Edmund Daukoru (for the Federal Government) and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited officials, in the presence of Anthony G. Ikoli (SAN) was reached on November 30th, 2006.

The agreement said: “IT IS HEREBY AGREED AS FOLLOWS: In the spirit of amicable settlement and without any admission of liability for any alleged wrongful, unlawful, unjust or any like conduct, the FGN agrees to re-allocate the oil block known as and covered by Oil Prospecting Licence 245 (herein called OPL 245) to Malabu within 30 days of this Agreement.

“The Signature Bonus in respect of OPL 245 shall be the sum of US$210million payable by Malabu to the FGN. In this regard, the FGN acknowledges that Malabu had hitherto paid the sum of $2,040,000 to the FGN in respect of this Oil Block which sum shall be deducted from the aforesaid Signature Bonus leaving a balance of US$207, 960,000 to be paid by Malabu to the FGN within 12 months from the date of reinstatement of OPL 245 to Malabu.

“The parties agree that Malabu shall, if it so desires, be at liberty to assign OPL 245 or any part thereof in accordance with the provisions of the Petroleum Act.

“Pursuant to this Agreement and in consideration of the foregoing, Malabu hereby forever and absolutely discharges and releases the FGN, its officers, agents, agencies and Privies howsoever described or any person acting for and or on its behalf from all claims or demands which Malabu has or may have, and from all actions, proceedings, obligations, liabilities, losses and damages brought, made, incurred, sustained or suffered by Malabu now or in the future relating to, arising from or howsoever connected with the withdrawal or revocation by the FGBN from Malabu of OPL 245.

“Immediately upon the execution of this Agreement, Malabu shall withdraw. Discontinue and terminate its Appeal No. CA/A/99/M/06 now pending against the FGN and its Agencies at the Court of Appeal, Abuja. Malabu shall cause the requisite evidence of this withdrawal/ discontinuance to the solicitors to be delivered to the FGN within 72 hours of the same being withdrawn or discontinued.”

In a July 2nd 2010 letter to the Managing Director of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, another former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke asked the company to pay US$210million as signature bonus.

The letter, ICSID Case No. ARE/07/18, said: “Further to the Settlement Agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd dated November 2006, your company is hereby allocated OPI 245 subject to the payment of the sum of US$210million as signature bonus into the Federal Government designated Account less the sum of US$2,040,000 already paid by your company in respect of the said block within ninety days (90 days) from the date of receipt of this letter.

“Please note that failure to pay the above mentioned within the stipulated period will amount to forfeiture of the allocation without further notice from the office.

“Please accept the assurance of my highest regards.”

In a July 2nd 2010 letter to the Managing Director of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Diezani asked the company to pay US$210million as signature bonus.

The letter, ICSID Case No. ARE/07/18, said: “Further to the Settlement Agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd dated November 2006, your company is hereby allocated OPI 245 subject to the payment of the sum of US$210million as signature bonus into the Federal Government designated Account less the sum of US$2,040,000 already paid by your company in respect of the said block within ninety days (90 days) from the date of receipt of this letter.

“Please note that failure to pay the above mentioned within the stipulated period will amount to forfeiture of the allocation without further notice from the office.

“Please accept the assurance of my highest regards.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade long experience in the global financial market. Contact Samed on Twitter: @sameolukoya

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IATA Says Nigerian Airlines Loses $2.09bn in April and June

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Airlines in Nigeria Loses $2.09 Billion in April and June

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that Nigerian airlines lost about $2.09 billion in the month of April and June due to COVID-19 lockdown.

In its report titled ‘Quarantine measures threaten aviation restart in Africa and the Middle East,’ IATA stated that the aviation sector in Africa and the Middle East was the worst-hit.

According to the report, the aviation sector in the two regions provides over 8.6 million direct and indirect jobs.

While the report did not provide data for the month of May, it stated that the number of Nigerian passengers declined by 4.7 million in April and 5.32 million in June when compared with the same period of 2019.

Similarly, the report said 125,400 jobs were at risk in April and 139,500 jobs were at risk in the month of June.

Muhammad Albakri, the Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, IATA, said governments in Africa and the Middle East must devise alternative methods to the current quarantine measures in place, saying the two regions have the highest number of government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.

He said, “It is critical that AME governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures. AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.

“The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6 million people depend on aviation for their livelihoods.”

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Oando Partners Oilserv to Build Ajaokuta-Kaduna Portion of AKK Project

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Oando, Oilserv to Construct Ajaokuta-Kaduna Portion of AKK Project

Oando Plc has partnered Oilserve Limited to construct a 303.4km linear pipeline system for the Ajaokuta to Kaduna portion of the $2.8 billion, 40 inch by 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Project, the AKK Pipeline.

According to a statement released by Oando through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the construction of the AKK Pipeline Project approved in 2018 has commenced on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

The statement reads “Oando PLC (referred to as “Oando” or the “the Company”), is pleased to announce to the Company’s attendance as a consortium partner at the flag-off ceremony for the construction of the $2.8billion, 40 inch by 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Project (the “AKK Pipeline”), by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

“The AKK Pipeline Project, championed by two consortia comprising select indigenous and international companies commenced in 2013 with the announcement for tenders by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). In April 2018, the Company announced that following an extensive due diligence and bid process, the Oilserv-Oando PLC consortium was awarded the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) mandate for segment 1, accounting for 40” by 303.4km linear pipeline system for the Ajaokuta to Kaduna portion of the AKK Pipeline Project by the NNPC.”

Speaking on the project, Jubril Adewale Tinubu, the Group Chief Executive, Oando PLC, said: “As a proudly Nigerian company, focused on driving indigenous participation we have always been proponents of public private partnership in accelerating the actualization of the nation’s goals.

“We have aspired to play an integral role in the building out of the National Gas Infrastructure and Pipeline Grid, as evidenced by our efforts in 2009, post the Nigerian Gas Masterplan when we participated in the unrealized Calabar- Ajaokuta- Abuja-Kano (CAAK) line.

“We have developed strategic partnerships with both private sector players and the NNPC in bringing sustainable solutions to spur the development of the country via our numerous gas development and distribution projects. We commend the NNPC for spearheading projects that will soften the headwinds occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are proud to be active participants in driving the country’s industrialization and actualization of the Gas Master Plan which will undoubtedly create employment opportunities and ultimately generate as well as enhance value for the nation.”

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Ethiopian Airlines Sustain Profitability Despite COVID-19

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Despite COVID-19, Ethiopian Airlines Stay Afloat

Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, manages to stay afloat during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, Tewolde Gebre-Mariam, the airline CEO, stated.

The Chief Executive Officer said “We may not be as profitable as we expected but we registered some profit. The first half of the year was good and the cargo business has also done very well.”

While the airline is expected to be down by almost $1 billion in ticket sales in the current year ending July 7, it generated enough revenue from the transportation of goods to finance monthly fixed payments between $120 million to $150 million for loans, aircraft leases, salaries and rentals.

According to Gebre-Mariam, the airline is still flying about 40 charter repatriations per week despite other flights completely grounded.

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