By Racheal Ishaya
ActionAid Nigeria has appealed to the Federal Government to resolve the controversies surrounding the transactions relating to the oil prospecting licence (OPL) 245 (Malabo oil and gas).
The Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Ojobo Atuluku, in a statement on Wednesday, said it was unacceptable that much of the proactive actions taken to unearth what went wrong have come from outside Nigeria.
It will be recalled that oil giants, Shell and Eni were said to have paid 1.3 billion dollars for oil bloc OPL 245.
The licence is said to hold around nine billion barrels of oil.
The money was allegedly discovered to be diverted to Malabu Oil and Gas, which was incorporated by a former Petroleum Minister, Mr Dan Ete.
Shell and Eni however, continue to claim that they only paid the money to the Federal Government and did not make any arrangement with any third party.
Shell, Eni, and several Eni senior executives, including the current CEO Claudio Descalzi, are scheduled to face a preliminary court hearing in Italy on April 20, 2017.
The Milan prosecutor is seeking that they be tried for alleged international corruption offences over the 2011 purchase of the Nigerian OPL 245 oil block.
Charges have also reportedly been filed in recent weeks against both companies by Nigerian authorities in relation to the same deal.
Atuluku said that Nigeria should be at the forefront of the prosecution because the resources in question primarily belonged to the country.
“The Nigerian Government should institute a proper investigation to identify all persons who may have compromised the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians.
“Whoever was involved in fraud in the initial allocation, revocation, reallocation and payment of fees, compensation or may have benefited from any illicit payments in the whole sordid affair should be prosecuted,” she said.
She said that investigation into the case should be followed by prompt prosecution to ensure that every person or organisation culpable was made to face the consequences of their crimes.
“The oil field, at the centre of the high-level political economic squabbles between powerful corporations and individuals belongs exclusively to the Nigerian people, majority of who live below the poverty level.
“It is therefore a disservice to the Nigerian citizens for the state to do little or nothing to protect the interests of the generality of Nigeria’s poor in the ownership, management and use of the resource.”
Atuluku said ActionAid was concerned that too often, Nigeria had failed to address issues of corruption allegedly emanating from its shores, always allowing foreign countries and institutions to help reveal such.
She gave as an example with the Halliburton scandal which, although some foreign nationals and corporations were indicted in the U.S., nobody has yet been punished in Nigeria.
“ActionAid, therefore, rejects any attempt by the Nigerian government to allow the Shell-Malabu affair to go the same way.
“We call on the Nigerian government to use this opportunity to address this present scandal and the Halliburton affair,” she said.
ActionAid had in 2016 published a report “Leaking Revenue” in which Shell and other oil giants, including ENI were revealed to have been involved in massive tax deals that cost at least 3.3 billion dollars. (NAN)