Nigeria moves to rescue 28 years wasting fortune

Abuja, Feb. 4, 2024: President Bola Tinubu has ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi to clear court cases on 1.3 billion dollars deepwater OML 245 oil block in Niger Delta.

Others that received the directive are the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The rest are the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd).

Lokpobiri said  this in Abuja on Wednesday while speaking with newsmen.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government had in 1998 awarded the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. for 20 million dollars.

The license covers a defined deep-water offshore area more than 1,000 metres below sea level and approximately 150 km off the Niger Delta.

However, with progress in the awards, this has turned out to be a pain. It has been a constant source of litigation for successive governments due to allegations surrounding fraud and corruption in awarding the licence.

The minister said that parties involved in the deal were currently negotiating to end the more than 28 years crisis and litigations surrounding the prolific oil block located in southern Niger Delta in the next one month.

“The previous administration initiated most of the cases that we are talking about today, and they took us to court, while we took Eni, Malabu, others to different courts in Europe, Canada, etc, but we didn’t win any of the cases.

“To even shock you, there is one that got us a penalty of over 70 million pounds” he said.

He said that JP Morgan, a financial institution sued the government for trying to dent its image in the saga, adding that the penalty was now binding on Nigeria.

“So we have been fined over 70 million pounds by the court. Who will pay that? You and I will pay that, or our children will pay, because it is a judgement debt.

“And in all the ones that we pursue both in Switzerland and other locations, we have no evidence to get conviction.

“And so it makes sense for this government to come and say that for 28 years, this block has been idle.

“This block is a prolific block that will add so much value to our economy, so let’s see how we can resolve the problem,” he said.

He said they were in talks with Eni and Shell, to see how they can resolve all the problems.

He said that at the last meeting, it was agreed that parties should go on with negotiations and to reconvene within one month to see how we will be able to sort out all the issues so that the investment can continue.

According to him, the parties of the Federal Government interfacing with Eni and Shell, is the Attorney-General of the Federation, which leads the delegation.

It includes NUPRC, EFCC, NNPC Ltd, and the Minister of State for Petroleum

“We are transparent about this process. We have full government in resolving this matter. Everything is being done transparently.

“This process has nothing to benefit the President as an individual, his interest is the welfare of Nigerians and to attract investments to the sector for Nigerians to benefit from God-given natural resources,” the minister said.