Abacha’s son drags federal government to court over $1.3 billion oil bloc

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Muhammed Abacha, son of late ex-head of state, Sani Abacha, has dragged the federal government, Shell and Agip to court to reclaim the $1.3 billion Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, which was allocated to Malabu Oil Gas Limited.

Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, where Muhammed Abacha is the director and the largest share holder has dragged the federal government of Nigeria to court over the reallocation of $1.3 billion oil bloc from Malabu oil limited to Shell and Agip.

New Telegraph reports that on Friday, March 17, Malabu Oil approached the court on ground that the federal government has no power to re-allocate the oil bloc to Shell and Agip while its (Malabu) rights and interests in the oil bloc is still pending.

In the fresh suit filed by Malabu Oil through its lawyer, J.A Achimugu, the plaintiff is asking the court to grant an order compelling the federal government to restore the rights to the exclusive possession of OPL 245 to it.

Joined, as 1st to 7th defendants in the suit, were the federal government of Nigeria, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Shell Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited.

Muhammed Abacha has disassociated his company, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, from former minister Etete, who is currently embroiled in corruption scandal.

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Others are Nigerian Agip Exploration Company Limited, EFCC and Chief Dan Etete. In a 29-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Mohammed Sani Abacha, he averred that Malabu Oil was incorporated in April 1998 with the Certificate of Registration number RC 334442, adding that the company was incorporated with a total share capital of 20 million ordinary shares.

Abacha further averred that out of the 20 million shares, he is holding 10 million shares, while Kweku and Hassan are holding six million and four million shares respectively.

He further stated that Etete does not directly or indirectly hold any shares in the company as there is no transfer of shares in his favour, even though he claims to indirectly hold 30 per cent shares of the company in the name of Amafagha Kweku, adding that there is no such transfer.

Abacha also said that Malabu had applied for Oil Prospecting Licence and same was granted by the Minister of Petroleum on April 29, 1998 via letters of allocation of OPL 214 and 245.

It was also averred that the company made payment of N50,000 as application fee, $10,000 as bid processing fees and part payment of or a deposit payment of $2,400,000 as signature bonus.

Abacha added that two accounts were opened without the consent or knowledge of Malabu Oil and that same was operated by Etete, in the name of Malabu Oil of which he (Etete) was the sole signatory.

Abacha added that two accounts were opened without the consent or knowledge of Malabu Oil and that same was operated by Etete, in the name of Malabu Oil of which he (Etete) was the sole signatory.

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According to him: “On the 2nd of July, 2001, the federal government and the minister of petroleum revoked the OPL 245. The plaintiff sued the federal government at the Federal High Court Abuja over the said revocation.”

The matter went on appeal before the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, in appeal no. CA/ A/99/M/06, but was subsequently resolved through an out-of-court settlement agreement executed by the parties namely: Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. and the Honourable Minister of Petroleum resources on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria on November 30,2006.

Abacha added that two accounts were opened without the consent or knowledge of Malabu Oil and that same was operated by Etete, in the name of Malabu Oil of which he (Etete) was the sole signatory.

Abacha also averred that Malabu Oil did not, in any way, benefit from the payment of the said payment because Etete was the sole signatory to the two accounts. Malabu is, however, praying the court for a declaration that its rights and interest in OPL 245 granted or re-allocated to it is still valid and subsisting.

In the suit file, Abacha’s son requests the court to give a declaration that the grant of OPL 245 by the 2nd defendant to the plaintiff in the exercise of the 2nd defendants powers under Section 2 of the Petroleum Act Cap. P.10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 does not constitute an offence under any penal law in Nigeria and OPL 245 is not the proceeds of any offence or crime under EFCC (Establishment) Act Cap. E1 Laws of the Federation 2004 or any other law in force in Nigeria.

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The plaintiff, however, wants the court to make an order compelling the defendants to restore to it its right to the exclusive possession of OPL 245.

It is also praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and in particular the 6th defendant from treating and or dealing with OPL 245 as a proceed of an offence and from interfering in any manner whatsoever and howsoever with the plaintiff’s exclusive right to explore and prospect for petroleum in the area of OPL 245.

It also wants an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from carrying out any exploration or prospecting activities in connection with or in relation to the area covered by OPL 245. The suit is yet to be assigned to a judge.

 

Flora Israel

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