11 January 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Former President Goodluck Jonathan has responded to allegations of receiving kickbacks int he $1.3 billion OPL 245 oil block deal involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.
Some Italian Investigations, earlier on Tuesday, had indicted the former president, alleging that the ENI Chief Executive, Claudi Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni, met with Jonathan to thrash out the deal “in person”.
Jonathan admitted that he met with executives of all the major oil companies operating in Nigeria in his capacity as the number one citizen of the country, but that no illegality was involved.
He also stressed that he did not send the Chairman of AA Oil, Abubakar Aliyu, or any other person to collect bribe in the $1.3bn Malabu oil deal.
Jonathan, who sought to clear the air in a statement in Abuja by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, said that the negotiations and transactions for the $1.3bn oil deal involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell predated his Presidency, which began on May 6, 2010.
According to the statement, “Our attention has been drawn to news reports published mostly by online media which suggested through innuendo, rather than factual evidence, that former President Goodluck Jonathan received kickbacks in the $1.3bn OPL 245 oil block deal involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.
“As President of Nigeria, there is no doubt that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan met with executives of all the oil majors operating in Nigeria and urged them to, amongst other things, support the growth of the Nigerian oil industry by ramping up their investments and comply with the Local Content Act that he promoted and signed into law.
“We, however, wish to state, for emphasis, that at no time did the former President hold private meetings with representatives of ENI to discuss pecuniary issues. All the meetings and discussions former President Jonathan had with ENI, other IOCs and some indigenous operators were conducted officially, and in the presence of relevant Nigerian Government officials and were done in the best interest of the country.”
It added that “With regards to the publication, we wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged with corruptly collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.
“In the first place, we have to categorically state that the negotiations and transactions for the oil block deal predate the Presidency of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which began on 6th May 2010 and ended on 29th May 2015.”
Abubakar Aliyu, who was described as an “agent” of Jonathan, was said to have withdrawn $54 million out of $801.5 million allegedly transferred to Malabu’s accounts.
But Jonathan denied the allegation, saying the records of the transactions in Malabu deals are in the office of the attorney-general of the federation.
“It may interest those promoting this false narrative to know that all the documents relating to the transactions, issues and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabu issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the office of the attorney general of the federation/minister of Justice.
“We make bold to point out that the former President never sent any Abubakar Aliyu, as the innuendoes in the false report suggest, to ENI, the IOCs or any indigenous operator to seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf.
“We will like to point out for the umpteenth time that whether in office or out of office, former President Jonathan does not own any bank account, aircraft or real estate outside Nigeria. Anyone with contrary information is challenged to publicly publish same.
“As the President who signed the Freedom of Information Act into law, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan lifted the veil on governance and encouraged transparency knowing that evil breeds in secrecy. It is the opinion of the former President that journalists and media houses should take advantage of this law in their investigative journalism, rather than rely on hearsay.”
He stated, “We make bold to point out that the former President never sent any Abubakar Aliyu, as the innuendoes in the false report suggest, to ENI, the IOCs or any indigenous operator to seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf.
“We wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged with corruptly collecting any money as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had a few weeks ago filed seven counts bordering on the Malabu scam against nine defendants, including the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN).
Other accused persons named in the charges, filed by the EFCC, are Etete, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited, Rocky Top Resources Limited, Imperial Union Ltd., Novel Properties & Development Company Ltd., Group Construction Ltd. and Megatech Engineering Ltd.
The Malabu oil scam, which has been under investigation for over four years, relates to the billions of dollars paid by oil giants, Shell and ENI, into a Federal Government account, for OPL 245, considered the richest oil block in Africa.
The money was allegedly diverted by Adoke and paid into private accounts