Malabu Oil Scandal: Rights Group Takes Matter To Court
A Nigerian civil rights group on Tuesday, has launched a legal case aimed at forcing the federal government to revoke a disputed 2011 oilfield deal at the centre of a string of international corruption investigations.
According to Reuters, the case, heard at a court in Lagos, relates to the purchase of Oil Prospecting Licence 245, an offshore oilfield in Nigeria, by oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in 2011. The field has estimated reserves of nine billion barrels.
At the core of the case is a $1.3bn payment from Shell and Eni to secure the block from Malabu Oil and Gas, allegedly controlled by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete.
Rasheed Adegoke, lawyer to Human and Environmental Development Agenda,(HEDA) said the rights group decided to go to court after it became aware of a trial in Milan relating to corruption allegations over the oilfield purchase.
HEDA is a rights group at the forefront of Nigeria’s corruption fight.
“After the judgement in Milan the Nigerian government refused to do something about it, we decided to go to court. What we are saying is that the attorney general should revoke the licence granted to Mr. Dan Etete, when he was minister,” Adegoke told Reuters after the hearing.
In December, Shell and Eni were ordered to stand trial over alleged corruption in Nigeria. Milan prosecutors alleged that bribes were paid to win the licence to explore the field, which never entered into production.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was absent in court on Tuesday. However, Etete’s lawyer told the court that his client would seek to join the case to defend ownership of the oilfield.
The case was adjourned to June 13.