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Ministers stall probe of N155bn Malabu oil deal

By on October 5, 2012

Attorney General of the Federation, Bello Adoke

The bid by the House of Representatives to probe the controversial sale of an oil block, OPL 245, was stalled on Thursday by key Federal Government officials with information on the deal.

The alleged “shady sale” involved the Federal Government, Shell/Agip Consortium and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, with OPL 245 being sold to the consortium for over N155bn.

The House had resolved on May 31, 2012 to investigate the transaction after it endorsed a motion by Mr. Robinson Uwak, a lawmaker from Akwa Ibom State.

Uwak had raised the alarm that Nigeria was short-changed in the deal.

The House constituted an ad-hoc committee headed by the Deputy Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, to probe the transaction.

But, Federal Government officials stalled the probe on Thursday, forcing the committee to postpone further proceedings indefinitely.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was billed to make the lead presentation at the opening of the probe, claimed that she did not receive any letter from the committee on the purpose of the investigation.

 A mild drama ensued when the committee tendered four letters, all addressed to the minister.

Alison-Madueke, after reading the letters, admitted that they were, indeed, addressed to her, but insisted that none got to her.

“The letters did not get to me; may be they were sent to the Permanent Secretary,” she said.

Her response made some committee members to wonder whether there was no synergy between her office and that of the permanent secretary.

She, however, asked to be given till next week to produce all the documents requested by the committee.

Similarly, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Otunla, shunned the session.

The committee equally complained that Otunla failed to respond to any of the letters sent to him.

Ogor told the session that AGF was asked to provide information in respect of the Signature Bonus payments for the transaction.

“We wrote the AGF, but up till now, he has not sent any response to the committee,” he added.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), was also absent at the session.

Adoke sent a letter to the committee on Thursday requesting for a shift in the date of the hearing.

He explained that he would be unavailable because he had to attend to another assignment involving discussions on the International Court of Justice’s judgment on the Bakassi peninsula.

Adoke was expected to address the committee on the legal aspect of the deal.

Although the Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, was present, he also told the committee that the ministry needed time to “actually put our documents together.”


Source: Punch