SAN FRANCISCO, January 26, (THEWILL) – A Federal High Court in Abuja, has ordered the interim forfeiture of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL 245), popularly known as ‘Malabu’, owned by former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Dan Etete, to the Federal Government, pending conclusion of investigation and prosecution of oil giants allegedly involved in the $1.2 billion Malabu oil bloc fraud.
Justice John Tsoho gave the order following an ex parte motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) requesting that “the property known as Oil Prospecting License (OPL 245) be managed by the Department of Petroleum Resources on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria pending the conclusion of investigation and prosecution”, of companies and individuals named in connection with acts of conspiracy bribery, official corruption and money laundering in the Malabu oil scam.
The OPL 245, an oil field believed to be the largest in Africa with over nine billion barrels of crude, was said to have been fraudulently acquired from the Federal Government by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in hazy circumstances in 1998 and afterwards sold to oil giants, Shell and Agip, in opague transactions.
The EFCC had on December 20, 2016, charged nine suspects, including a former Attorney General and Minister of justice, Mohammed Adoke, with respect to the $1.1bn scam.
Other accused persons named in the charges filed by the EFCC before a Federal High Court in Abuja, were Dan Etete, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Dev. Co. Ltd, Group Construction Ltd, Megatech Engineering Ltd.
The court ordered the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR to manage OPL 245 on behalf of the Federal Government. EFCC in the suit told the court that its investigations revealed that Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd and SPDC secured OPL 245 through fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company.
“After consideration of the entire materials furnished by the applicant in support of the application dated and filed January 11, 2017, I am satisfied with the materials.
“The application is granted as prayed,” Justice Tsoho ruled.