09 June 2014, Abuja – The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), has asked the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to stop further investigation into the alleged $1.1bn proceeds from the sale of an oil well, OPL 245, to some multinational oil firms.
The OPL 245 is currently considered the biggest oil bloc in the country, with proceeds capable of servicing the country’s debts for the next 30 years.
The House of Representatives had on February 19 this year ordered the immediate cancellation of the fraudulent sale of the lucrative oil bloc OPL 245 to Shell and Agip, in a shady deal facilitated with the payment of $1.1bn (about N165 bn) to a convicted former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.
The federal lawmakers, after months of bickering over the outcome of its investigations into the transaction, approved the nine recommendations ordering the cancellation of the deal, the drafting of a new agreement, and the prosecution of officials found wanting.
The recommendations, if implemented by the Federal Government, imply that Shell and Agip will lose N165bn paid to controversial company, Malabu Oil and Gas, for the oil bloc.
The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), on the other hand, summoned Adoke and others allegedly involved in the deal to a meeting on January 29, 2014 over the issue but the minister did not attend.
However, it took him a month later to inform the committee, through a letter personally signed by him and dated 27th February, that he stayed away because he had been earlier scheduled to attend a meeting in Addis Ababa.
Adoke, in the letter, obtained by our correspondent on Friday, then informed the committee to steer clear of the probe for now because a group, African Youth Platform for Development, had instituted a suit in which the National Assembly and the Attorney -General were sued as first and second defendants.
Adoke said, “It is pertinent to inform you that the suit seeks to restrain the National Assembly from inquiring into the transaction leading to the grant of OPL 245, which is the subject matter of your proposed meeting.
“In view of the pending suit and the fact that the National Assembly and my office have commenced the defence of the suit, I most humbly advise that the proceedings of the committee be kept in abeyance pending the determination of the suit.”