Gentlemen and ladies of the media we @ HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCAITION OF NIGERIA )HURIWA) have followed with considerable shock and trepidation, the continuous harassment of the family members of the immediate past Federal Attorney General and minister of Justice Alhaji Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. There is also an allegation of threats to the life of the immediate past AGF.
The former Minister of Justice who has been in Europe for his post master’s degree course has cried out on several occasions that the lives of his immediate family members are threatened by members of the cabal within the presidency because of the ongoing issues relating to the lawful action he took in his capacity as the nation’s Chief law officer in the business transaction over oil well involving such parties as Malabu and Shell.
Gentlemen we will for historical purposes present the summary of the matter of Malabu and to show you that in the entire scenario, the immediate past AGF is being wrongfully targeted may be because of his political persuasion or because he was a key kitchen member of the last government headed by the now opposition party- people’s democratic party.
The settlement between Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD) and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited (Malabu) over the ownership /right to operate OPL 245 which was facilitated by the Federal government of Nigeria through the office of the Attorney General of Federal and minister of justice in April 2011.
We note that Adoke himself has written to explain his official role in all of these but the harassment has persisted.
Adoke has also submitted to the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on the transaction involving the federal government and Shell/Agip companies and MALABU Oil and Gas Limited in respect of Oil Block OPL 245. in that submission to the parliamentary panel in 2013 he had stated amongst others thus:
“It is important to reiterate from the beginning that the settlement Agreement between Malabu and the federal government over the ownership/right to OPL 245 predates me in office as the terms of settlement upon which the settlement as predicated were executed as a far back as 30th November 2006 to amicably settle suit: FHC/ABJ/.CS/420/2003 and Appeal No: CA/A/99/M/06 brought by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited as Plantiff/Appellants against the president and Commander in chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria; the federal Government of Nigeria; the National Petroleum Corporation; the ministry of Petroleum Resources; the Department of Petroleum Resources and Attorney General of the Federation as Defendants/Respondents.”
2. ATTECEDENTS OF DESPUTES BETWEEN MALABU AND THE FGN in the report goes thus:
“Records indicate that Malabu ,an indigenous oil and gas company was allocated OPL 245 in April,1998b by the FGN in furtherance of its indigenous exploration programme policy introduced in the early 1990s to encourage effective development of indigenous capability in the upstream sector of the oil industry.
Malabu and the other indigenous oil and gas companies were accordingly allocated oil blocks which they were expected to develop in partnership with international oil companies as Technical partners.
Malabu has in accordance with the terms of grant appointed to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD) as its technical partner.
The companies executed relevant Agreements as a joint operation agreement in 2001.
Malabu asserts that it proceeded to operate OPL 245 as a sole risk venture in conformity with Government’s guidelines. Malabu also asserts that it negotiated with SNUD which took 40% participating interests in the venture in a farm –in –agreement and that SNUD agreement with Malabu as its technical partner for the venture.
Although, Malabu was issued a license for Block 245 on 9th April 2001,the FGN subsequently revoked the license on 2nd July 2001.Exxon Mobile and shell were then invited in April 2002 to bid the same Opl 245 as contractors on a production sharing contract(PSC) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) despite the existence of subsisting contractual agreements between Malabu and SNUD with respect to OPL 245.Disatified with the revocation, Malabu contended among other things at the circumstances leading to the revocation of its license on Block 245 was less then transparent and smacked of inducement and connivance from SNUD, which at the material time was technical partner. It was also contended by Malabu that the subsequent re-award of OPL 245 VSNUD by the FGN was done under questionable circumstances.
Malabu then petitioned the House of Representative Committed on petroleum to look into the matter. It is important to note that the house of representative committee on petroleum found no rational basis for the revocation and reprimanded shell for its complicity. The committee also directed the federal government to withdraw the re-award, it made to shell and return OPL 245 to Malabu, the original allotee of the block. In addition to its recourses to the holder of representative committee on petroleum, Malabu also instituted suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/420/2003, before the Federal High Court (FHC)Abuja to enforce its claim to OPL 245.
Although, the suit was struck out by7 FHC, Malabu proceeded to lodge Appeal No.CA/A/99M/2006,before the Court of Appeal, Abuja, Division in 2006.
During the pendency of the Appeal, an amicable settlement was entered into between Malabu and in compliance with the terms opf settlement executed by the parties on 30th November 2006,OPL 245b was fully and completely restored to Malabu in consideration for its withdrawal of the Appeal.
It is instructive to note that the honorable minster of State Dr. Edmound Daukoru, communicated the restoration of the OPL 245 to Malabu vide letter dated 2nd December 2006 which enclosed as Annexure B.
The Honorable Minister of State’s letter also clearly states that President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, had duly approved the restoration of OPL 245 to Malabu.It is important to state that the terms of settlement were filed in Court as consent judgment and become binding orders of the court. The major clauses in the terms of settlement are reproduced below to show the issues, agreed upon by the parties.
(I) In the spirit of an amicable settlement and without any admission of liability for any alleged wrongful, unlawful, unjust or any like conduct, the Federal Government of Nigeria(hereinafter referred to as ‘FGN’)AGREES TO RE-ALLOCATE THE OIL BLOCK KNOWN AS AND COVEREDD BY OIL PROSPECTING LICENCE 245 TO Malabu oil and gas limited from the date of this agreement;
(II) The signature bonus in respect of OPL 245 shall be the sum of US$ 210,000,000(TWO HUNDRED AND TEN MILLION US BDOLLARS) payable by Malabu to the FGN .In this regard, the FGN acknowledges that Malabu had hitherto paid a sum of US$ 2,040,000(two million and forty thousand Us dollars)to the FGN in respect of its Oil Block which sum shall be deducted from the aforesaid signature bonus leaving a balance of US$ 207,960,000(two hundred and seven million, nine hundred and six thousand dollars)to be paid by Malabu to the FGN within 12 (twelve) months from the date of the reinstatement of OPL 245 to Malabu.
(III) The parties agree that Malabu shall, if it so desires be at liberty to assign OPL 245 or any part thereof in accordance with the provision of the petroleum Act.
(IV) Pursuantly to this agreement and in consideration of the foregoing, Malabu hereby forever and absolutely discharges and releases the FGN, its officers, agents, agencies and privies howsoever described or any person acting for and/or on its behalf, from all claims or demands which Malabu has or may have from all actions, proceedings, obligations, liabilities, losses and damages brought, made, incurred, sustained or suffered by Malabu now or in the future relating to, arising from or however connected with the withdrawal or revocation by the FGN from Malabu of OPL 245;
(V) The parties agree that these terms of settlement shall be made the judgment if the court.
A cursory reading of the above clauses in the terms of settlement would reveal that it as the agreement of the parties that OPl 245 should be full restored to Malabu; Malabu was expected to pay the balance of the signature bonus in the sum of US$ 207,960,000 and Malabu was free to dispose the block by way of assignment. Malabu accordingly released the FGN from liability on account of the actions taken in respect OPL 245.It is opposite to note that no other individual or corporate body as a party to court action by Malabu or the amicable settlement with the FGN.
3.SNUD’S RESPONSE TO MALABU’S AMICABLE SETTLEMENT WITH THE FGN AND THE RESTORATION OF OPL 245 TO MALABU
SNUD apparently dissatisfied with the implementation of the terms settlement between the FGN and Malabu, commenced arbitration proceedings Against the decision of the FGN to restore/re-allocate OPL 245 to Malabu at the international center for the settlement of investment disputes(ICSID)in Washington Dc, and made representations to governments on the impending arbitration. It also commenced a suit against the FGN before the Federal High Court, Abuja.
It will be recalled that SNUD had entered into production sharing contract with the NNPC in 2003b upon their OPL 245 was anchored. SNUD has paid $1million US Dollars out of $210 million us dollars signature bonus to the federal government and kept the balance of $209 million us dollars in an Escrow Account with J.P Morgan pending the resolution of the dispute between Malabu and Federal Government.
4. EFFORT TO SETTLE THE LINGERING DISPUTE BY SIUCESSIVE ADMINISTRTIONS
It is important from the exchange of letters between the presidency, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, SNUD and Malabu, that several meetings were held between President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR and SNUD to resolve the dispute. The former president had proposed a middle courses solution to the dispute; whereby the interests of SNUD, Malabu and NNPC would be accommodated on OPL 245, i.e SNUD would be contractor-operator, while NNPC and Malabu would be concessionaire equity right and concessionaire equity interests respectively.
While it would appear that SNUD was comfortable with the above arrangement. Malabu contended that the solution failed to take cognizance of its membership rights over OPL M245.Malabu asserted that the proposed solution amounted to a unilateral imposition of the back in regime, which did not apply in the circumstance. In general, was of the view that SNUXD was not a position to insist that it must be the contractor on OPL 245 and canvassed the full implementation of the terms of settlement proposals is enclosed as Annexure C.
To reconcile these conflicting positions, the Honorable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources had by a letter dated 11th may 2007 to President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR proposed that a committee made up of himself, the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Energy, GMD-NNPC, DPR with external solicitors serving as resource persons be constituted to enter into settlement negotiations with the affected companies. However there is no indication on the records that the committee was able to arrive at any satisfactory outcome before the President Umar Musa YAR’Adua, GCFR was sworn in as Presi9dent on 29th May 2007.
We say so because this Malabu matter predates the immediate past govt but commenced around 2006 with the then Federal government under chief Olusegun Obasanjo up until it was resolved out of court during the last administration. In all of these the AGF is one of the over 5 key government officials including president Obasanjo, Yadua/Jonathan, Petroleum Minister and then Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga who then headed the Finance Ministry. His predecessor in office under Obasanjo played also his lawful role.
Why isolate and select Adoke for persistent harassment when the FG hasn’t been able to establish any evidence of wrong doing or show any bribery transaction linking the immediate past AGF?
The action of invasions of homes of Adoke in Abuja, Kano and Kogi State is illegal and unconstitutional and violates all known laws of civility and human rights including the following:
International Covenant on civil and political rights in Article 17:
“1.Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others”.
“2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”.
Universal Declarations of Human Rights@ Article 1:“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscious and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”,
Article 2: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it is independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.
Article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”
Article 9: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”
The 1999 Constitution in sections 42(1) “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community , ethnic group, place of origin, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he such a person-
(a) Be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups places of origin, sex, religions, or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) Be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizen Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions”
36(1): “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question, or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality”
and ,36(5) “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty, provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts”.
We hereby give the Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo 74 hours to officially and publicly direct the EFCC to stop the harassment of Adoke or failure which we will approach the UN Human Rights Council with a petition to declare ex justice minister of Nigeria as an endangered species in Nigeria.
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; National Coordinator.
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