By Ahuraka Isah*
The dispute over the ownership and operation of OPL 245, otherwise known as Malabu oil bloc, has taken a new dimension, with former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) asking the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to hold former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan, accountable.
Specifically, he said that Obasanjo and Jonathan who are still alive should give explanations on areas believed to be shady and riddled with corruption in the resolution of the disputed Malabu oil block.
In a letter addressed to the current Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Adoke noted that section 5 of the 1999 constitution as amended, vested all executive powers of the federation in the president to exercise by himself and or through his ministers and appointees.
Accordingly, he said the transaction started from President Obasanjo under whose administration the terms of settlement were brokered, with Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) as the then Attorney General of the Federation who executed the terms of settlement.
Adoke maintained that it was Obasanjo who executed the terms of agreement before the Goodluck Jonathan administration approved the final implementation of the terms of settlement, with him (Adoke) executing the resolution agreements.
In the letter obtained by LEADERSHIP yesterday Adoke stated: “What is the effect of section 5 of the constitution on persons who act pursuant to lawful presidential approvals? This is more so as two out of the three Presidents that had the opportunity to scrutinise this Settlement (Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan) are alive. Have they disowned the settlement?
“It is my respectful view that Nigerians deserve answers to these questions as it will help them and my humble self to understand the actions and the machinations of the EFCC masquerading to be acting in the national interest while surreptitiously deploying state resources and machinery to promote the personal agenda of their cohorts.”
Insisting that the settlement was done in the national interest, he told his successor in office that his response was crucial because it had become glaring that the actions of the EFCC in respect of the transaction are not in the national interest.
He said rather, the commission was acting in furtherance of a plot to serve the interests of some powerful families and individuals who are aggrieved by his (Adoke’s) refusal to accede to their requests to compel Malabu to pay them certain sums from the proceeds of its divestment in OPL 245 and the subsequent re-allocation of the Block to Shell/ENI.
He continued: “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).
“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 their solution 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.
“The Office of the Attorney General superintended over the process to ensure that the implementation was holistic by ensuring that the requisite presidential approvals were sought and obtained. Besides, all the relevant MDAs such as 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
“Ministers of Justice also ensure that the relevant Agreements such as OPL 245 Resolution and Re-allocation Agreements were duly executed by line Ministers and Departments.”