Abacha family dismisses Nigerian govt’s claim of resolving $1.3bn OML 245 court cases

Abacha family dismisses Nigerian govt’s claim of resolving $1.3bn OML 245 court cases

Abacha family dismisses Nigerian govt’s claim of resolving $1.3bn OML 245 court cases

The family of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha has dismissed the claim by the federal government that all Court Cases relating to ownership of the oil exploration company, Malabu Oil and Gas have been resolved.

The family dismissed the claim said to have been made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, at a public function in Abuja.

In a protest letter against the claim written by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Reuben Okpanachi Atabo, the Abacha family issued a 14-day ultimatum to Lokpobiri to withdraw the alleged false claim or be slammed with contempt of court charges.

In the protest letter received at the AGF and Oil Minister’s offices on July 5, the Abacha family averred that the claim made at the opening session of the “Nigerian Oil and Gas Energy Week” by Lokpobiri was false, spurious, unfounded and an affront to the courts where several cases on ownership of Malabu Oil and Gas are still pending.

Lokpobiri was reported to have said the ongoing negotiations to end the disputes surrounding the Oil Mining License (OML 245) have been concluded and that the oil block will resume production in the national interest.

Malabu Oil and Gas Company belonging to the Abacha family was said to be the owner of the deepwater OML 245 oil block located in the southern Niger Delta but in 2001, the federal government under former President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked Malabu’s license to the oil block.

In 2006, Malabu challenged the revocation in court but the matter was settled out-of-court with the government under former President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Trouble, however, erupted in 2011 when Shell and Eni, two major oil companies reportedly acquired the 245 oil block for $1.3 billion from Malabu in a deal approved by the Nigerian government via transfer of rights from Malabu to Shell and ENI in exchange for consideration but without the knowledge of the Abacha family.

Ever since there have been a series of litigations in various Courts by the Abacha family to reclaim ownership of the rich oil block.

The protest letter by the senior lawyer to the Oil Minister read in part “We act as Solicitors to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha and Pecos Energy Ltd and on whose authority and firm instructions we write to you.

“Our Clients’ attention has been drawn to the remarks made by the Hon. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources at the opening session of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Energy Week to the effect that all legal issues relating to OPL 245 have been resolved and that the coast is clear for investors to come and invest in OML 245.

“At the said opening session, with the theme ‘Showcasing opportunities, driving investment, meeting demand’, the Minister stated thus; “I am happy to announce to you that we have resolved all the issues.

We should be expecting investments in 10s of billions of dollars to create an atmosphere where we become globally competitive. Nigeria fiscals are globally competitive and those Companies that left over a year ago are coming back.”

“Sometime in 1998, Alhaji Mohammed Sani, Kweku Amafagha and Hassan Hindu co-founded Malabu Oil & Gas Limited as initial shareholders

“We wish to inform you that in 2011, there were resolution agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria, Shell Nigeria Ultra-Deep and the Nigeria Agip Exploration on OPL 245, our Clients were not represented at the said Resolution Agreements rather Chief Dan Etete who was neither a Director nor Shareholder of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited purportedly represented the company.

“It was these Resolution Agreements that subsequently led to the sale of OPL 254 to Shell Exploration and Nigeria Agip Exploration Company Limited at the cost of $1.3 Billion US Dollars.

“Our Clients who did not participate nor benefit from the proceeds have maintained various actions in court.

Sir, we also wish to state categorically on behalf of our Clients that there are various ongoing cases at different courts in Nigeria on OPL 245 and to this effect, we need to correct the impression that all legal issues have been resolved specifically, in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/201/2017 between Malabu Oil and Gas and the federal government and others.

“We wish to inform you that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has also maintained criminal charges against some persons in respect of the purported sale.

“We wish to most respectfully inform you that the controversy surrounding the Oil Prospecting Licence OPL 245 led to the setting up of the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives to investigate Malabu Oil & Gas via –a-vis the potential economic value of OPL 245 to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“From the foregoing, it is evident that the remarks made by your esteemed self during the opening session of the Nigerian Energy Week are not only misleading but bereft of the factual situation on the ground.

“Furthermore, the said remarks is an affront on the authority of our Courts, having regard to the fact that the matter is sub judice before various courts in Nigeria.

“By Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), judicial powers in Nigeria are vested in our Courts who are meant to determine disputes between individuals and Government.

“Also, we are now in a democratic system of government where the Rule of Law prevails and not the Rule of force.

“From the various courts, it can be seen that the Federal Government of Nigeria is a party to the ongoing suits and therefore the said remarks made by your esteemed self, amount to writing judgment in your own favour notwithstanding the fact that you are a party to the suits.

“In view of the fact that the matters of OPL 245 are in Court, we do not need to go into further details to allow the Hon. Justices of the various courts to dispense justice.

“Take notice therefore that we are by this letter demanding that your esteemed self, issue a statement retracting your remarks made during the opening session of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Energy Week with the theme “Showcasing opportunities, driving investment, meeting demand.”

which is in issue within 14 days from the receipt of this letter failure of which we shall take an action against you in a competent Court of Law without further recourse to our Clients.

“Accept the assurances of our highest esteem, ” the lawyer said.

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