Senate probes $1.092b Malabu oil dealLegislature, Oil Politics, Senate Saturday, July 21st, 2012
The Senate yesterday resolved to investigate the alleged sale of an oil block, OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited at $1.092billion (about N178.812billion) by the Federal Government.
It’s resolution followed a motion moved by Senator Ahmed Abdul Ningi (Bauchi Central) and supported by 46 others.
In his lead debate, Ningi noted that Nigeria signed up to the Global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2003 and began implementation in 2004.
He said the country later supported the policy with the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act, 2007.
He said the objective of the Act, as encapsulated in Section 2(a and c), included ensuring due process and transparency in payments made by all extractive industry companies to the Federal Government and statutory recipients.
He insisted that the Act also seeks to eliminate all forms of corrupt practices in the determination, payments, receipts and posting of revenue accruing to the Federal Government from the extractive industry firms.
He expressed worries over recent clamour for a review of “circumstances surrounding a tripartite transaction involving the Federal Government, Shell/Agip, as well as Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in respect of Oil Bloc referred to as ‘OPL 245,’ to the effect that the Federal Government purported to sell OPL 245 to Shell/Agip Consortium in the sum of $1.092billion.”
He said media reports have raised legal and ethical issues surrounding the transaction and pattern of distribution of proceeds to beneficiaries, arguing that if all these weighty allegations are ignored, “Nigeria may be sanctioned by Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) for violating a global initiative to which it is a signatory and our image will further be eroded locally and internationally.”
The motion attracted stiff opposition from Senator Heineken Lokpobri (Bayelsa West).
Lokpobri argued that as the highest law making body in the land, the Senate should not be drawn into matters of discovery.
He said the motion did not contain enough facts that would enable the Senate to consider it.
He said: “I rise to oppose this motion in its root, stem and branches. The Senate as the highest law-making body, should not be made to go on a voyage of discovery.
“There must be sufficient facts to make the Senate decide whether there would be investigation or not.
“The first issue is whether you can sell what you do not have, because the bloc does not belong to the Federal Government and it cannot sell what it does not have.”
He noted that the controversial oil bloc was allotted to certain individuals by late General Sani Abacha during his administration and was later revoked by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo came into power, he purportedly revoked those licences and these companies went to court and the court declared the revocation null and void and as such, the oil blocs were restored to the companies including Malabu Oil and Gas.
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