The successful seizure of a luxury private jet purchased from the proceeds of the $1.3b OPL 245 Malabu oil scandal is a confirmation of the rapacious era of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Buhari Media Organisation says any group or individual that has any shred of self-worth, and who is, or was, involved in that kind of sleaze should hide his or her head in shame.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that the deal, which was facilitated in 2011 by the Jonathan administration, is the subject of a corruption trial in Italy involving the Abacha era petroleum resources minister, Dan Etete and two international oil companies, Shell and ENI.
“We see it as confirmation of the unbridled theft that characterized the PDP years, or how else could anyone describe a situation where $1.3bn was paid for an oil block which is believed to have 560 million barrels of oil, but over a billion dollars was shared as bribes and kickbacks to top government officials and their cronies?
“The $57m jet is part of the spending spree Etete was alleged to have embarked on almost as soon as he received $336m from a combined $1.3b paid by Shell and Eni for the lucrative oil block he awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company he secretly controlled, in the last weeks of the Abacha regime in 1998.
“What the world saw but which many Nigerians don’t know from the ongoing court session in Italy is how investigators who had access to hacked mails, secret memos and wiretapped phone conversations found out that a large chunk of the $1.3bn payment was shared as bribes and kickbacks.
“We invite Nigerians to know that the groundwork on how one of Nigeria’s most lucrative oil blocks was literally stolen was done by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) since the Obasanjo years, but it was stalled.
“Equally baffling is how government officials under another PDP administration took it to another level by facilitating a questionable deal between Etete and the two oil giants which short-changed Nigeria.
“It was so bad that the international media reported in 2019 that ‘the amount allegedly meted out as bribes amounted to more than the entire 2018 healthcare budget of Nigeria where 87 million people live in extreme poverty’.
“We also want Nigerians to know that the deal which the Buhari administration is now seeking to reverse, was, according to ‘Global witness’, to deprive the country of $6bn in future revenue compared to standard Nigerian terms.
“So if there is any evidence of PDP era irresponsible act in government, this is it,” the group added.
BMO noted that the deal is so bad that it is the basis of one of the most important corporate fraud cases in Africa’s history.
“Aside from the Italian court case, the Dutch authorities have prepared charges against Shell, ENI and their executives. There are indications that Britain is also likely to follow suit because of the substantial British shareholding in Shell.
“EFCC has begun the prosecution of former Attorney General Mohammed Adoke who is accused of collecting N300m to facilitate the controversial deal, and Aliyu Abubakar who is said to have shared the kickback to officials of the PDP-led government, while the country is also suing US bank, JP Morgan, in London for negligence in transferring $801m of public funds to Malabu.
“We agree with the consortium of global anti-corruption groups comprising Corner House and Global Witness in the UK, HEDA Resource Centre in Nigeria and Re: Common in Italy which have spent years investigating OPL245 that the seizure of Etete’s jet is a welcome development”.
BMO also assured Nigerians that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration will continue to raise the stake in its efforts to recover stolen public funds.