06 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – After many months of prevarication, the House of Representatives has finally summoned the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to answer questions over his involvement in ongoing investigations into the controversial Malabu Oil deal.
A committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday said a letter of invitation will be dispatched to former President Jonathan, summoning him to appear before it to explain his role in the controversial award of OPL 245 oil block licence.
The committee is investigating the alleged corruption, malpractices, breach of due process in the award of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245.
Rep. Razak Atunwa, Chairman of the House Committee on Justice who leads an ad-hoc panel investigating the $1.3 billion Malabu oil deal, said the panel members have asked the clerk to write the former president.
The $1.3 billion was paid by oil giants, Shell and ENI, for the oil block, one of the richest in Africa.
About $1.1 billion of the money was paid directly into a Nigerian government account with JP Morgan during Jonathan administration in 2011; while about $200 million had been paid by Shell as signature bonus a few years earlier.
Most of the $1.1 billion ended up in private accounts with about $801 million directly going into the account of Dan Etete, a former petroleum minister who was convicted for money laundering in France.
A good chunk of that sum is believed to have gone to Mr. Jonathan and officials that served under him, including Mohammed Adoke, the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.
Atunwa, who disclosed the invitation to Jonathan while interacting with journalists in Abuja on the outcome of the investigation the committee conducted so far, said that the clerk is expected to dispatch the letter in the coming days.
According to him, the invitation of the former President will determine the next steps to be taken by the committee.
“The committee noted that it had conducted extensive investigation into the OPL 245 saga and that it is drawing to a close.
“However, the committee is of the view that in the interest of thoroughness, natural justice and fair play, it is imperative that evidence should be taken from former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“In arriving at this decision, the committee took account of the following facts: Jonathan was the President at the material time the ministers brokered the so-called resolution agreement that led to the allegation of $1 billion diversion of funds.
“Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan in Italy,” Atunwa explained.
According to him, “A UK Court judgement in relation to an application to return part of the money being restrained, castigated the Jonathan administration as not having acted in the best interest of Nigeria in relation to the deal.
“The Attorney-General of the Federation at the material time, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who, of course, has been charged in relation to the case by the EFCC, has recently instituted proceedings in court.
“He pleaded that all his actions were as instructed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, the committee has decided to request that former President Goodluck Jonathan give evidence to the committee, as to his role in the matter.
“The secretariat will write, him asking for his response and submissions.”
While responding to questions, he said that the former president was at liberty to make a written submission to the committee or otherwise.
He also said that the former president’s response would determine the next line of action to be taken by the Adhoc committee.
“The proper thing is that the committee has taken a decision that he must give evidence. Section 89 of the Constitution requires that we ask for the evidence; we’ve asked him for evidence and he must give evidence, we have asked him to give his response and submission.
“A matter entirely for him is, he may desire to send us a written submission, and we consider every written submission. We take it one step at a time.
“The normal proceeding for a committee hearing investigating such matter is to take a written submission and whatever comes out of that will have to be decided at the committee level.”
Recall that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, had in April urged the House of Representatives, to compel Jonathan to appear before it over the controversy surrounding the OPL 245 Malabu oil deal.