27 January 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered the interim forfeiture of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to the Federal Government pending investigation and prosecution of suspects in the $1.1bn Malabu Oil scam.
Justice John Tsoho granted the order shortly after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission moved an ex parte application on Thursday.
The OPL 245, an oil field believed to be the largest in Africa, was said have been fraudulently acquired from the Federal Government by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in 1998 and afterwards sold to oil giants, Shell and Agip, in a shady transactions.
While moving the application which was dated and filed on January 11, 2017, on Thursday, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Johnson Ojogbane, urged the court to grant the order pending the investigation and prosecution of the suspects named in the scam.
Though, the EFCC had earlier filed charges against some of the suspects, including the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, the order obtained by the EFCC on Thursday appeared to set the stage for prosecution of more suspects.
The additional suspects named in the application were Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Limited, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited “and other individuals”.
Ojogbane said on Thursday that the suspects were being investigated “in connection with acts of conspiracy, bribery, official corruption and money laundering”.
The EFCC had on December 20, 2016, charged nine suspects, including Adoke, with respect to the $1.1bn scam.
Other accused persons named in the charges filed by the EFCC before a Federal High Court in Abuja, were Etete, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, Rocky Top Resource Ltd, Imperial Union Ltd, Novel Properties & Dev. Co. Ltd, Group Construction Ltd, Megatech Engineering Ltd.
The anti-graft agency, in the charges with suit number, FHC/ABJ/CR/268/2016, accused Adoke of illegally transferring over $800m purportedly meant for the purchase of the OPL 245 to Etete, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited, from a Federal Government account.
The EFCC also accused Aliyu, an oil magnate, who is the Chairman of A. A. Group and Rocky Top Services, of receiving $336,456,906.78.