Malabu $1.1 Billion Fraud: Shell, Eni Want Nigeria’s Richest Oil Block Back
Two multinational oil firms have challenged the propriety of the Nigerian government withdrawing a major oil block from them.
Shell and Eni, through their Nigerian subsidiaries, asked a Federal High Court to reverse an order that revoked the award of OPL 245 to them.
Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court had on January 26 granted an interim order directing the return of the block – Nigeria’s richest, estimated to contain over 9 billion barrels of crude – to the Nigerian government,
The order was sought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which said it was investigating the corruption surrounding the block.
The EFCC has in a separate case charged two former Nigerian ministers, Mohammed Adoke and Dan Etete, as well as businessman Abubakar Aliyu to court for their roles in the $1.1 billion scandal, money paid by Shell and Eni to control the block. The commission is also expected to file charges against the oil majors soon; although they are already facing similar indictments in Italy, and investigations in the U.S., Netherlands, and UK.
The hearing on the application by the oil majors was stalled on Tuesday on the request of the EFCC who sought time to respond to the applications.
At the opening of session on the matter, the counsel representing the EFCC, J. A. Ojogbame prayed the court for an adjournment to allow him file his reply to the applications.
He explained that he has had some predicaments which prevented him from being able to respond to the application.
The counsel representing Shell, O. Ajayi, objected to the application for adjournment, saying that the EFCC had obtained an order ex-parte, which allowed the commission to have control over the OPL 245.