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35 years after, FG gives up on Malabu! Case not winnable – Malami



The Federal Government, is about to throw its hands into the air in the realisation that a 35-year-old battle to right the wrongs of the $1.7billion in the OPL 245, otherwise known as the Malabu Scandal, has been lost.

That is if it settles for the advice of Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice ((AGF-MoJ), who wants the court cases on the matter, which had within the period, taken the government through various courtrooms home and abroad to be terminated “because the prospects of a judicial victory are slim.”

TheCable reports that the advice came via a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, where the Minister, was said to have suggested rather that the government, allowed the country enjoy the economic benefits of the controversial oil block while fossil fuels are still in vogue arguing that the dispute and associated litigation had brought negative economic consequences for Nigeria “particularly in terms of foreign exchange earnings, loss of Tax income and Royalty payments.”

OPL 245 is believed to be Nigeria’s most endowed oil block but its development has been stalled since Buhari came to power in 2015.

His administration has been pursuing a series of litigation home and abroad against Royal Dutch Shell, Eni/Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE), Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep (SNUD) Ltd, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Company (SNEPCO) — as well as Mohammed Bello Adoke, former AGF, over allegations of fraud and corruption in the OPL 245 deal. They all deny the charges.

In 2011, Shell and ENI paid $1.1 billion to acquire 100 percent stake in OPL 245 after Malabu, the original allottee, relinquished its interest in the acreage — but foreign anti-corruption campaigners alleged that the transaction was shrouded in corruption.

The federal government pursued both criminal and civil cases and has lost in foreign jurisdictions but the prosecution has continued in Nigeria using the same evidence that failed abroad.

The cases in Nigeria are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).


In his memo dated 6 February 2023, the AGF reminded Buhari of the string of losses Nigeria has suffered over the years in trying to prove corruption and fraud in the transaction.

Malami wrote: “Your Excellency, recent developments, particularly the series of losses recorded in cases that arose from the facts of OPL 245 2011 Resolution Agreements in different jurisdictions, should be concerning. These losses include:

“I. Judgment of the UK Courts delivered on 22 May 2020 declining jurisdiction in a case filed by FGN against Shell/SNUD and ENI asking for compensation in the sum of $1.1 billion in relation to their conduct in the OPL 245 2011 Resolution Agreements;

“II. Judgment of the Italian Constitutional Court dated 17th March 2021, in the Prosecution of NAE in Milan, Italy for international corruption allegedly connected with OPL 245 2011 Resolution Agreements which was concluded in favour of ENI;

“III. Judgment delivered by the UK Court in June 2022, the FGN lost its $1.7 billion claim against JP Morgan Bank over transfers of proceeds from the sale of OPL 245 pursuant to the OPL 245 2011 Resolution Agreements.

“IV. The US Department of Justice previously investigated the OPL 245 2011 transaction and announced in October 2019 that it was closing the case.

“V. In April 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission also closed investigation into the controversial OPL 245 deal after it could not prove fraud or corruption.”

Malami noted that upon the conclusion of the case in Milan in March 2021, Buhari — with advice from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Resources Commission (NUPRC) and the office of the AGF — granted consent to convert the oil prospecting licence (OPL) to an oil mining lease (OML) for NAE to commence production.

He recalled that Timi Sylva, then-minister of state for petroleum resources, wrote to ENI in May 2022 to convey Nigeria’s readiness to resolve all the issues but the assurance “remains ineffectual as long as Charge CR: 151/2020 against ENI in Nigeria being prosecuted by EFCC remains in Court”.


In his assessment of the current situation, Malami wrote: “In sum, Mr. President is invited to note that:

“(a) OPL 245 is the most priced Oil block in the country.


“(b) FGN has gained certain benefits from SNUD/NAE/ENI in respect of OPL 245. In particular, SNUD/NAE/ENI have made payments to FGN and also expended resources thereon including:

“I. Cumulative total of $210 million Signature Bonus.

“II. Approximately $500 million committed by SNUD into the development and de-risking of OPL 245.

“III. Payment of $1,092,040,000.00 to Malabu as consideration for the OPL 245 2011 Resolution Agreements.

“IV. Litigation cost of prosecuting the several Suits connected with the subject matter in various jurisdictions.

“(c) By allowing SNUD alter its position in the sums stated in (b) (I) to (IV) above, and without getting a corresponding value for same over time through FGN’s Policy summersault, litigation and disputes, Nigeria could reasonably be portrayed as an unfriendly investment destination whose credibility is suspect.

“(d) FGN’s actions which denied SNUD/ENI/NAE the opportunity to exploit OPL 245 led to ENI’s International Arbitral Proceedings against FGN claiming $1.3 billion plus interest and arbitration costs. (No: Case No. ARB/20/41/).

“(e) The controversies and litigations, particularly the pending charge No CR/ 151/2020 filed by the EFCC against NAE/ENI and others has placed encumbrance on the ability of FGN to enjoy the financial benefits associated with the exploration OPL 245 with attendant economic losses to the Nation.

“(f) Judicial determinations in Milan & UK, and administrative decisions in the USA, all favourable to ENI/NAE, together with the Consent Judgment earlier entered to which FGN was a Party makes it a more beneficial approach for FGN to consider settlement of charge No: CR/151/2020 as the best option in the circumstances.

“(g) Whilst the dispute and associated litigation cum Arbitration lasted, neither SNUD/NAE nor even FGN would exploit OPL 245 with negative economic consequences for FGN and the people of Nigeria particularly in terms of foreign exchange earnings, loss of Tax income and Royalty payments.

“(h) A careful review and evaluation of the Charge No CR: 151/2020 pending at the FCT High Court, particularly the three counts against ENI/NAE, SNUD & SNEPCO leads to an almost inevitable conclusion that the Charge does not disclose sufficient evidence to excite any prospect of success in the case.

“(i) It is in the best interest of the Federal Government and Peoples of Nigeria, to resolve all issues connected with OPL 245, especially the commercial issues, by discontinuing the pending charge No CR/151/020, and to expedite the process of converting the OPL to an OML for ENI/SNEPCO thereby taking advantage of the fast-disappearing opportunities in the oil exploration industry, and attracting other high-net worth investors that will provide the resources much needed in the Oil industry and by extension our economy at this time.

“(j) The above conclusion is consistent with my earlier letter dated 27th September 2017 ref: DPPA/FMPR/198/ 17, which position was supported and re-established by Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu and Chief Timipre Sylva in their letters dated 13th December 2017 ref: MPR/STAHMS/S.26/18, and 27th May 2022 respectively.”


The AGF asked the president to allow the cases to be terminated for progress to be made.

He wrote: “In view of the foregoing, and if deemed appropriate, Mr. President may wish to:

“a) Direct the discontinuation of counts 2, 3, & 13 in Charge No CR: 151/2020 pending at the FCT High Court particularly the counts against ENI/NAE, SNUD & SNEPCO.

“b) Direct the total discontinuation of all investigations by all Law Enforcement Agencies, particularly, EFCC, involving ENI/NAE, SNUD & SNEPCO in relation to OPL 245.

“c) Direct the NUPRC and any other relevant Agencies to expedite the conversion of OPL 245 to an OML in furtherance of the Ministerial Consent granted via the letter dated 16th May 2022 ref PRES/88/MPR/90.

“d) Approve the settlement of all Civil cases between FGN and ENI/NAE, SNUD & SNEPCO in relation to OPL 245.

“e) Approve that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice exercise his powers under Section 174(1)(c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to discontinue the case against NAE/ENI, SNUD & SNEPCO PROVIDED NAE/ENI, SNUD & SNEPCO equally agree to discontinue the Arbitration Proceedings against FGN on the grounds that FGN’s delay in converting the OPL 245 to an OML is a breach of Nigeria’s obligations under the relevant Treaties, and to hold FGN harmless in respect of all claims concerning OPL 245.”


TheCable understands that while Buhari may be disposed to resolving the issues before leaving office, the fate of Mohammed Abacha remains an issue.

As previously reported by TheCable, the final resolution depends on a proposal by the EFCC for a compensation to Abacha by ENI.

Abacha is laying claim to the ownership of Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd, the company awarded OPL 245 in 1998 by Sani Abacha, his father and then-military head of state.

He alleged that the ownership documents of the company were illegally altered, thereby denying him benefits from the $1.1 billion paid by Shell and ENI to acquire Malabu’s interest in the oil block.

The EFCC objected to the proposal to convert the OPL to OML and for the court case to be discontinued, saying it “did not consider the interest of the actual shareholders of the Malabu Oil and Gas Limited (Mohammed Sani Abacha and Pecos Energy Limited) culminating in the various litigations regarding OPL 245. This action has globally undermined the image of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

TheCable learnt that EFCC is proposing that ENI should set aside $500 million from the proceeds of production to compensate Abacha.

In a case filed in court by the EFCC against Malabu, Shell, Eni, Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar, Etete, and Rasky Gbinigie (Malabu’s company secretary), the anti-graft is alleging that they colluded to remove Abacha’s name as a director of Malabu.

According to reports, a man named “Mohammed Sani” originally had 50 percent in the company, with “Kweku Amafegha”, believed to be a pseudonym for Etete, owning 30 percent; and Wabi Hassan, the wife of Hassan Adamu, Nigeria’s then-ambassador to the US, was credited with owning 20 percent.

Mohammed Abacha, who is EFCC’s key witness, told the court that he was the “Mohammed Sani” but admitted that he did not pay for the shares either in cash or by any other means.

The case is ongoing.


Speak now! Catholic priests want Kaduna gov’s reaction to El-Rufai’s Islamisation comments



Uba Sani, must either officially distance himself or affirm the declaration of his predecessor Nasir El-Rufai that Muslim-Muslim executive branch leadership, have come to stay or stand up to denounce it immediately.

These were the demands from Catholic priests in parts of the North, who as they expressed disgust at the statement, which showed the former governor captured in a video, which went viral last week, practically celebrating the continuation of an arrangement, which he first introduced in 2019, and which has now been sustained with the new governor having a Muslim deputy.

Clerics from Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria chapters of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), in a public letter to Sani, urged him to declare his position on what they described as political supremacism in Kaduna state and Nigeria, as part of their reactions to the video, which has raised a lot of dust.

El-Rufai, who in his speech to Muslim clerics in the state, had recounted how after instituting an all-Muslim executive in the state himself and made it permanent in the state, the arrangement was pushed through at the national level with the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, as President and Vice President, respectively on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Informing that while Nigerians were actually believed that religion was not the issue in pushing through with the ticket, when it was in fact the case, the former Governor, who spoke in Hausa, declared that the arrangement had come to stay and would last for the next 20 years at the initial stage after Tinubu, adding that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had been defeated by the outcome.

But an apparently thoroughly upset Catholic priests, in an open letter on Thursday, said: “Having soberly considered the contents and implications of such communication by a former state governor who is known to be your close ally, we feel compelled to write you, to know where you stand with regard to the commotions Mallam El-Rufai intends to propagate and perpetuate in our state,” the letter reads.

“We write you today because we are responsible stakeholders in the affairs of our beloved state with our own congregations and followers. Mr governor, we do not intend to conclude that you are in agreement with all the content of the former governor’s utterances, as you have given no explicit reason to suggest so (yet), even though you were present at the occasion! We therefore earnestly expect your direct official reaction to the utterances of your predecessor in office.”

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Buhari spent more than $19billion on revamping four refineries without result – Nasarawa gov



Barely two weeks after his exit, the records of former President Muhammadu Buhari, have come to to the fore with one of them indicating a damning verdict, as he was said to have sunk a whopping $19billion in trying to rehabilitate the nation’s four refineries, without anything to show for it.

Abdullahi Sule, Governor of Nassarawa State, who used the former President abysmal failure to make a case for supporting the removal on petroleum products, compared the huge wastage to the amount Dangote refinery, cost to give Nigeria a facility with the single chain production in the world.

None of Nigeria’s four refineries, located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri is currently operational despite the huge amount sunk to resuscitate them, most of the funds borrowed from foreign lending agencies, the latest being the securing of $1.5million loan for that of Port Harcourt.

Bemoaning the situation, the governor, said: “Look at how much the President Buhari administration spent on fixing the refineries. In the eight years, he spent more money than the $19 billion that Dangote spent in building a refinery. That is one and a half times the size of our three refineries combined.”

A guest on Sunrise Daily, a breakfast programm of Channels Television on Thursday, Sule, pinned the payments of subsidy on Nigeria’s non-functional refineries, adding: “From the government side, I think we didn’t do a good job. When the (former) President (Buhari) came in in 2015, prices of crude oil dropped by less than 30 dollars. At that time, there was zero subsidy.

“Our three refineries in Nigeria today have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote is 650,000. He spent $19 billion on building it. We spent, not building a new one, but in maintaining these refineries; more than $19 billion in eight years, yet they have not been maintained.”

The Dangote Refinery, Africa’s biggest oil refinery, which took off in 2017, drew Nigerians and global personalities in different fields of life, including four African Presidents at its commissioning on May 22, 2023 by Buhari.

Sule, who also lamented the complexity of maintaining the refineries due to their diverse components, added: “The refinery is actually a component for water, crude, and diesel, about five or six different components that constitute a refinery. The moment the government says we are going to spend $2 billion this year on the refinery. The $2 billion is spent and as far as the President is concerned, they have given $2 billion.

“Now when it goes to the three refineries that we have in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna. Then they say, you now take $700 million, you now take $800 million – by the time they take that, it goes to fix maybe only one component out of the four components that are all bad. The ideal resolve would have been to allocate the major funds to one of the refining states to fix it totally before allocating the remainder to the other states.

“So, zero work is done. These are the true realities of what is happening, and that is why none of the refineries is working. These are truly the problem, we have not really managed this thing well.”

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Japan goes tough on asylum seekers, enacts new law to check abuse



Despite desperate attempts to block it, including a ruckus, which broke out in parliament Japan went ahead on Friday to enact an immigration law that would see the government deporting failed asylum seekers, even with members of civil society, joining in the pushback.

The law gives refugees only three chances to try after which they would face deportation, unlike before when applicants could stay in Japan during the decision process, regardless of the number of attempts they made to secure refugee status, reports, say.

The revised law will “protect those who must be protected while strictly dealing with people who have violated rules. There are many people who misuse the application system to avoid deportation,” Justice Minister Ken Saito, was quoted as saying, adding that this had persisted even when such people were not fleeing danger or persecution.

Last year, Japan accepted just 202 refugees out of some 12,500 applicants, and separately allowed 1,760 people to remain in the country due to “humanitarian considerations,” including more than 2,400 evacuees from Ukraine under a different framework.

Activists staged rallies against the revised law, but a protest from the opposition bloc in parliament was voted down by the ruling coalition, which holds a commanding majority.

“It is intolerable to deport people, even if they have criminal records, to countries that may violate their human rights” and where “their life and freedom would be in danger”, the Tokyo Bar Association said this week.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party says the revisions will bring better access to medical care and accommodation options for people whose asylum applications are pending.

Japan’s immigration detention conditions have been under scrutiny since the 2021 death of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman.

Sandamali was not an asylum seeker but had been held for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

Her family are seeking compensation of more than $1 million from the government over her death.

Sandamali reportedly complained repeatedly of stomach pain and other symptoms, and campaigners allege she received inadequate medical care.

Controversy and political pressure over the incident led ruling lawmakers to drop a push to enact similar legal changes to immigration rules two years ago.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer for Sandamali’s family, told AFP on Thursday that the revised bill was “equivalent to having a button to execute those who seek refuge by deporting them”.

“Japan’s refugee recognition system is not working,” he said, with officials turning down applications quickly, sometimes without face-to-face interviews.

Amnesty International also said in March that Japan should scrap the proposed revision to immigration laws, calling the country’s detention policies “harsh” and “repressive.”

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