Nigeria's lower house committee to probe oil licence deal

  • Nigeria's lower house committee to probe oil licence deal

Nigeria's lower house committee to probe oil licence deal

Nigeria's lower house of parliament has set up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the award of oil prospecting licence (OPL) 245, the committee chairman said on Wednesday.

In the documents, Italian prosecutors quoted Ednan Agaev, a Russian middleman who helped negotiate the transfer of the oil block to Shell and Eni, as saying that Dan Etete, the former Petroleum Minister at the heart of the oil scandal, said he meant to dole out as much as $400 million in bribes if the deal went through.

Oil companies, Shell and ENI claimed to have paid the Federal Government $1.3bn for oil bloc OPL 245, one of the most lucrative in the country.

Chairman of the probe committee, Hon Rasak Atunwa, stated that his committee has recommended that the former president be given an opportunity to explain his role in the approval of the April 2011 Agreement which acted as a catalyst for the supposed "resolution" on which the $1.1 billion was paid.

The statement said: "The allegations that former President Goodluck Jonathan received $200 million as proceeds from the Malabu Oil deal which were published on a gossip news site, Buzzfeed, and republished by a few other newspapers, is false in its entirety, and is one more in the series of fake news sponsored by those threatened by Dr. Jonathan's continuously rising profile in the worldwide community".

He added that he is "closely monitoring the proceedings in the Italian courts instituted by the Public Prosecutor of Milan in which ministers in Jonathan Administration were mentioned including President Jonathan himself".

"Common sense should have shown the purveyors of this slander that the Malabu oil deal far predated the Jonathan regime and it would only make sense for him to be bribed if he had a time machine to go back in time to when the deal was struck", said Jonathan's spokesman, Ikechukwu Eze.

"These facts have firmly placed former President Goodluck Jonathan on the Committee's radar".

However, Rep Atunwa said on Wednesday, that Jonathan's testimony in the ongoing investigation was important.

Meanwhile, former President Jonathan has described his indictment as the handiwork of persons after his global reputation and seeking his downfall.

A large part of that sum is believed to have gone to Mr. Jonathan and officials that served under him including Mohammed Adoke, the then attorney general.

"The Committee intends to be meticulous, thorough and comprehensive in its inquiry so as to bring about finality to this seemingly intractable matter".