Nigerian court orders arrest of Dante Etete, Mohammed Adoke, others over Malabu oil scandal

Nigerian court has issued has granted the prayers of the country's anti-corruption agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) for a warrant of arrest against Dan Etete, a former Minister of Petroleum, and Mohammed Adoke, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, who were implicated in the controversial Malabu Oil scandal.

Former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, in connection with the Malabu oil deal (Guardian Nigeria)

The ruling was issued by Justice D.Z. Senchi, of a Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) High Court, sitting in Jabi, the nation's capital on Wednesday.

The court also declared wanted Raph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujato Stefeno, and Burrato Sebastiano for failing to show up to face charges related to the Malabu Oil scandal. 

According to a statement from the EFCC, Justice Senchi, granted the prayers of the EFCC, and ruled that the Nigeria Police, the INTERPOL and any other law enforcement agency should arrest them anywhere they were found including outside jurisdiction of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) High Court.

The matter was adjourned to July 11, 2019 for further hearing.

Mohammed Bello Adoke, Ex-AGF reacts 

In a swift response to the court judgement, Mohammed Adoke, Nigeria's former attorney general, said a court judgement had exonerated him in the deal. 

According to a report by TheCable, Adoke said Justice Binta Nyako ruled in April 2018 that “I was only carrying out a presidential order in the OPL 245/Malabu transaction and that I had no case to answer. That naturally ends the EFCC case against me but the agency has chosen this path and I will use all legal means to exonerate myself.”

Backstory of the EFCC case in Nigeria

The EFCC had since 2017 pressed charges against Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Co. Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Eni Spa, Raph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujato Stefeno, Burrato Sebastiano, Duazia Louya Etete (aka Dan Etete), Mohammed Bello Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas Limited. All the defendants declared wanted had repeatedly failed to appear before the court.

In view of their persistent absence in court, the EFCC had through its counsel, Aliyu Yusuf, brought a motion ex parte praying the court for a warrant of their arrest, and an order for leave to execute the warrant outside of the jurisdiction of the court.

Shell, ENI, Government officials in the ongoing Malabu oil case in Italy

The case in the controversial $1.1 billion oil deal Malabu Oilfield, popularly known as 'OPL 245' is also on-going in an Italian court. 

The scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by oil multinationals, Shell and ENI, through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by Mr Etete. 

Various reports and leaked documents Shell had suggested the oil giant capitalised on the 2011 presidential election to get the federal government to sign the deal at a 'cheap rate'.

Shell alongside ENI is facing lawsuits over an alleged transfer of $1.1 billion through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled and owned by Dan Etete, the former oil minister.

Shell and Eni have denied any wrongdoing, reiterating that they had acted correctly in the purchase of OPL 245.

In August 2018, a Milan court sentenced a Nigerian man, Emeka Obi and an Italian middleman to four-year jail terms over $1.1 billionMalabu oil fraud. The two oil giants denied them as 'middlemen' in the deal.

Nigeria has lost $6 billion in the controversial Malabu deal 

Industry experts analysed that the lost revenue projected could fund Nigeria’s combined annual federal health and education budgets twice over.

In the analysis jointly inaugurated by the Human and Environmental Development Agency, Global Witness, RE: Common and The Corner House in 2018, Nigeria lost an estimated $6 billion to the controversial deepwater block Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 deal.


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