I have just been informed that Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has petitioned the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) over what she calls “spurious negative report” that she purchased a 20 million euro mansion in Vienna, Austria. In the petition dated November 11, 2011, the minister, who personally signed the letter, requested for a thorough investigation into the source and
motive of the negative report and character assassination.
Titled: “Phantom Allegation by Heute Newspaper,” the petition to the NIA, also copied to President Goodluck Jonathan says:
“I write to draw your attention to a recent report published by the Vienna based Heute newspaper, alleging the purchase of a 20million euro mansion in an undisclosed location in Vienna by my humble self.
“The story which is clearly concocted to portray Nigeria public officials as corrupt and prodigal was scripted as well to denigrate and embarrass the Federal Government of Nigeria. In the light of the above, it is my wish that you use your good office to cause a detailed investigation of the mischievous story with a view to ascertaining the real motive behind this unwholesome article,” said the minister, in the petition."
She also requested the NIA boss “to treat the matter with the urgency that it deserves”.
Last week the online media was awash with news of an alleged purchase of a 20million euro mansion in Vienna, Austria by the Minister.
However, the report which was attributed to an unnamed Nigerian paper by Huete, did not disclose the exact location of the mansion or provide any photograph to support the claim. The newspaper, which is based in Vienna Austria, also claimed to have culled the report from an unnamed Nigerian newspaper.
In case you missed the story, a Nigerian blogger residing in Austria, Uzoma Ahamefula last week broke the story that a free local paper in Austria ‘Haute’ had published that the Minister acquired the said property near the residence of a former Petroleum Minister, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman.
Haute claimed that it got its story from the Nigerian media, which unfortunately, to my knowlegde has not published any of such.
Uzoma wrote thus, “Mr. President Sir and Fellow Nigerians, it is yet another shame of insult in far away Vienna, Austria, Europe. According to a shocking bomb revelation by a free daily newspaper in Vienna, Austria called “Heute”, there is a secret mansion villa worth 20 million euro bought by the current oil minister Mrs Allison Madueke.
“Here is the full translated version of the above text as reported by the newspaper:
"Big turbulence about the Nigerian Oil Minister Diezani Allison-Madueke (50)! According to Nigerian media the politician is said to have bought a villa in Vienna for just under 20 Million Euro – even though a major part of the population in her home country is living below the poverty line and children are dying daily of starvation. The exact location of her luxury lodging is secret, but Allison-Madueke is enthusiastic about the big garden and the estate referring to it in the internet as “architectonic masterpiece”. One of her neighbors is said to be former OPEC boss Rilwanu Lukman who is also from Nigeria."
Personally, I Ogbuefi ndigbo has problems with Uzoma's and Heute's report.
One problem with that story is that The Austrian newspaper that carried it says it relies on a Nigerian newspaper. But No Nigerian newspaper reported this story. Why is the Nigerian newspaper source not named? How could we to believe a story that is alleged to emanate from our country when we know that there has been no such report in a Nigerian newspaper. Who is fooling who?
In a statement issued last week Friday, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke refuted the allegations.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma said also, “no right thinking news medium would fall for such cheap and unsubstantiated rumour peddling.
“As professionals, we know that comment is free but facts are sacred. Now if you are saying in this age and time that somebody bought a 20m euro mansion in a very conservative city like Vienna, then you must be able to produce the picture of the so called mansion, the transfer wire number for the said purchase, as well as other details of the transaction. 20m euro is no small money anywhere in the world,’’ Ajuonuma stated.
He recalled that a similar unsubstantiated story was culled from the Jakarta Post and spread by the online news media in September accusing the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources of planning to invest in a multibillion-naira refinery project in Indonesia.
"Interestingly when the Jakarta Post retracted their phantom story and apologised on front page to the NNPC for the fake story, the online media never bothered to publish same because they are usually not interested in facts," he said.
He implored newspaper editors and gate keepers to fact check news stories from foreign tabloids and online media in good time for publication.
“With the aid of forensic accounting, it doesn’t take rocket science to track any financial transaction. You cannot conduct a 20million euro deal anywhere in the world, without attracting red flag from relevant international agencies, ’’ he said.
Ajuonuma assured that the Minister of Petroleum Resources is not perturbed by such publications, noting that the focus now is on ensuring the full activation of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration Transformation Agenda in the oil and gas industry.
I have also been informed that President Jonathan may have ordered the NIA and the Nigerian Ambassador to Austria to "thoroughly investigate the allegation and ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the claim" about the Vienna Mansion.
Would the Federal Government institute legal action in Austria against the publishers of Heute newspaper once it is established that the report was fabricated to ridicule the minister and the Federal Government? Only time shall tell.
However, I am also aware that a much bigger story is swirling against the Oil Minister and President Goodluck Jonathan.
Last week, another blogger claimed that there is a much Darker side to the OPL 245 Saga that involved former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete and and the current Petroleum Minister, Mrs Diezani Madueke, which he think the whole world should know about.
He claimed that after the world has discovered the true size of the 9 billion Oil block and the dealings in regard to the owners and Shell Agip bid for the oil block, Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, that belongs to Dan Etete company in 2005 enlisted the services of Dele Adesina & Co to help represent Malabu Oil and Gas in its case against the Government when the Government revoked the Oil license OPL 245.
Dele Adesina & Co, had represented the Federal Government in the past and Mr. Adesina was very close to the then Attorney General of the Federation Bayo Ojo, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and former Special Adviser on Petroleum to Obasanjo, Edmund Daukoru.
Malabu secured the out of court settlement between it and the Nigerian Government and signed an agreement with Dele Adesina & Co. for services of $29 million USD.
Out of this money Adesina was to spread substantial amounts to Bayo Ojo, Obasanjo and Edmund Daukoro. Edmund Daukoro wanted about $20 million USD for him self, so an additional contract was signed with Malabu to increase the the $29 million to $50 Million.
So if NNPC approves the Shell/ Agip deal, these players mentioned are going to make a lot of money.
Some companies who have invested directly in Malabu oil and gas have already taken legal action in the USA and the UK to secure their share of the money should the government approve the $1.3 billion USD Shell/Agip deal.
In regard to the Shell/ Agip deal, the blogger claims the current President is heavily involved, because of his long standing Friendship with Chief Dr. Dan Etete and that he put pressure on Shell to solve the problems with Malabu and NNPC or face further problems in Nigeria.
He also said that Malabu again has through back room deals agreed to pay the current President $50 million USD for his support, and through the same players who helped Malabu sort out the settlement issue as mentioned above, have offered $30 million USD to the current Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison- Madueke to secure the Government approval of the Shell/Agip offer.
The Minister, according to the report, has already collected $40 million USD from Agip for her to approve 50% of the OPL 245 License to Agip.
Also there is Mr. Mike Adenuga, a close friend of Chief Dan Etete who is also trying to offer the Minister of Petroleum a substantial amount of money for NNPC to give up their right as operator in the Shell oil block he bid for and put in a Deposit of more than $100m USD.
Other groups who also bid for the Shell assets and to save the deal are also coming forward to offer the Minister of Petroleum serious money to back down and give up NNPC right as Operator in order to save the deals.
The issue that is very disturbing is that the OPL 245 oil block in the Niger Delta of Nigeria is under an indigenous license. This program was created to protect local oil company participation in the oil industry. Under the guideline with oil blocks under this program, foreign companies cannot take more than 40% interest in the oil block.
Because of the huge amount of money being paid under the table to the Minister of petroleum and the President of Nigeria, NNPC has promised to give Agip 50% of the oil block including Agip being the operator of the block ( this was the $40 million the Minister collected from Agip already) and is also set to approve the joint Shell/Agip bid of $1.3 billion for the reminder of the oil block. Which goes contrary to the laws and intentions of which the license of the oil block was initially given.
Doing this is just pure circumvention of the laws and greed. All who want fair play and justice in Nigeria should be interested in this story.
This is a much bigger allegation against the Oil Minister and her boss; bigger than an unverified claim about a Euro 20m house in Austria.
Curiously, no one has denied this dollar for Oil block report. We are waiting!