The minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), yesterday said there was insufficient evidence to convict his predecessor, Mohammed Adoke, former minister of petroleum resources, Mrs Diezani Alison- Madueke, and former finance minister, Olusegun Aganga, over the scandalous $1.092 billion Malabu oil deal.
He however declared as fraudulent the payment of $1.092 billion in the Malabu oil deal into an escrow account at JP Morgan, London, by the former ministers, saying the money ought to have been paid into the Federation Account or the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The AGF, made these comments yesterday, before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the alleged corruption, malpractices and breach of due process in the award of oil prospecting Licence OPL 245.
He said investigation into the allegations were still ongoing; thus he could not determine whether or not there would be any convictions.
“I don’t have any aggression as far as prosecution is concerned. I can’t, with certainty, jump into the conclusion of indictment. We need to first identify what laws were broken, which will determine what line of investigation we are to pursue.
“What I’m saying in essence is, we are at the stage of investigation and, indeed, even those that are presumably considered to play a role are equally being given an opportunity to make presentations. The investigation is from different perspectives – because of criminality, breach of contract and associated elements,” Malami stated.
The AGF also informed the ad hoc committee that his predecessor, Mohammed Adoke, had not made himself available for investigation but that he had made a written submission to the Ministry of Justice.
“And I invited in that process, my predecessor in office, amongst others. Even though the investigation points to directions that require of him to say a word, he has not made himself available successfully even though written correspondence has been received from him in that respect and direction.
“Honestly I cannot say with precision that we have arrived at a point whereby we have to prosecute. But what we are doing, within the context of investigations, is to see what we can do without ruling out the possibility of prosecution, without ruling out the possibility of revisiting what has been done, and then without ruling out whatever eventually that may come, in terms of doing justice to what obtains as far as OPL 245 is at stake. So, that is the position; we’re at the point of investigation,” the AGF said.
On the way forward, Malami declared that the problem of the country is non-compliance with, or disobedience to laws. He promised the committee that anyone indicted in the Malabu Oil deal would be dealt with dispassionately, no matter the person’s standing in the society.
“We should review the report and see what laws have been provided and breached. It should never be about sentiment, but obedience or compliance to the law in relation to the operations of OPL 245.
“It is not about emotions, or personal interest. It is about obedience and enforcement of the law. It should never be about an individual but about procedure as far as operations of OPL 245 are concerned,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) exonerated itself from the controversial deal, saying it played no role in the award of the oil blocks to Malabu Oil as it is an indigenous company.
Speaking on behalf of the Corporation, the chief operating officer (COO), Bello Rabiu, informed the committee that NNPC was only involved on a PSC basis after the contract was revoked and handed to Shell in 2003, adding that there were about five court cases at that time over the block which halted any work on it back then