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FG Loses Bid To Stop Hearing Of Abacha’s Suit To Reclaim OPL 245

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed preliminary objection the Federal Government lodged to stop hearing of a suit that the son of late military Head of State, Mohammed Abacha, filed to reclaim ownership of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245, which was originally awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

The court, in a ruling by Justice Binta Nyako, held that contrary to the Federal Government’s contention, the suit was neither statute-barred nor amounted to an abuse of the judicial process.

Justice Nyako held that the court has the requisite jurisdiction to look into the case.

Aside from the Federal Government, other Defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/201/2017, are; the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Shell Nigeria Ultra-Deep Ltd, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Company Ltd, and former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete.

The OPL 245 is regarded as one of the biggest oil blocs in Africa.

It was initially awarded to Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd in 1998 by the late military head of state, General Sani Abacha, in a process, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleged was against all known government regulations.

The EFCC said its investigations revealed that Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd secured OPL 245 through a fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company and some government officials.

Processes the anti-graft agency filed in court further revealed that the oil bloc was later withdrawn from Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd on July 2, 2001, based on the directive of the Presidential Adviser on Petroleum to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, after which it was re-allocated to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd.

However, following series of litigations, OPL 245 was returned back to Malabu, which EFCC said subsequently went into a fraudulent agreement with Shell and Agip, in which the companies paid a signature bonus of $210million to the Federal Government, while an additional $1.2billion bribe was given to some owners of Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd led by a former Minister of Petroleum under Abacha, Chief Etete, who as at then was already a convict.

The EFCC alleged that it was former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, that helped Shell and Agip to route the bribe money through the Federal Government’s Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London.

However, Adoke had since denied the allegation, insisting that he was innocent. Meanwhile, in the suit he filed in the name of Malabu Oil, Abacha’s son, Mohammed, claimed to be the majority shareholder in the oil firm.

The plaintiff told the court that the oil firm was not part of the purported allocation of OPL 245 to Shell and Agip and for which they allegedly paid $1.3billion to Etete.

He told the court that actual shareholders of the firm were excluded from the process.

The Plaintiff added that the oil company was also not part of the Bloc 245 Resolution Agreement of April 29, 2011, entered between the Federal Government, Shell, Agip, and Etete, purporting to represent Malabu Oil, adding that it “did not relinquish any or all of its rights and interests in OPL 245 to any person or persons.”

He added that the purported allocation of OPL 245 to Shell and Agip in 2011 was in violation of Malabu oil’s rights as the holder of the “OPL 245 to exclusively explore and prospect for petroleum within the area of its licence, pursuant to Paragraph 5 of the First Schedule to the Petroleum Act, and is therefore null and of no effect.”

Plaintiff is praying the court to among other things, issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from carrying out any exploration or prospecting activities in connection with or in relation to the area covered by OPL 245.

It wants the court to make an order compelling the Defendants to restore to it, its right to the exclusive possession of OPL 245.

The Plaintiff also wants a declaration that not being a party to the Bloc 245 Resolution Agreement dated April 29, 2011, any payment purportedly made by the Defendants into any bank account purporting to be the Plaintiff’s bank account and or made to the 7th defendant (Etete) purportedly in the name of the Plaintiff, was not a payment made in pursuance of the said bloc 245 resolution agreement.

The Plaintiff is further seeking a declaration that the allocation of OPL 245 by the 1st and 2nd Defendants (FG and Petroleum Minister) to the 4th and 5th defendants (Shell and Agip), via a letter by the Petroleum Minister, on May 11, 2011, titled “Re: OPL 245 Resolution Agreement/Letter of Award”, while the Plaintiff’s rights and the interests to OPL 245 were subsisting, is in violation of the Plaintiff’s exclusive right under Paragraph 5 of the First Schedule to the Petroleum Act, to explore and prospect for petroleum within the area covered by OPL 245, and is therefore, invalid, wrongful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Justice Nyako adjourned the suit till March 9, 2021, for hearing.

 

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We Won’t Stop Providing Infrastructure For Rivers People, Wike Vows

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has restated the commitment of his administration to sustain the provision of basic infrastructure that would continue to make life better for Rivers people.
Wike stated this at the flag-off ceremony for the construction of Nkpolu-Oroworukwo flyover, which was performed by the South-South Zonal Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Dan Orbih, last Friday.
The governor said that the urban renewal programme of his administration was restoring the glorious status of Port Harcourt, explaining that the 7th flyover would definitely add to the aesthetics and enhance commercial activities in the area.
“We have our urban renewal programme, designed to bring back Port Harcourt to what it used to be. I am sure this 7th flyover will improve the beauty of this place. The value of the property here will go up and businesses will thrive.
“Port Harcourt is a clean place. It must be maintained. Construction work here will bring employment to our people; our children will be engaged here to work.
“I am still talking with Julius Berger Nigeria Plc to deliver the project in 10 months because I have paid 70 per cent to them. Why should I wait until 12 months for completion?
“So, we are happy, and we have said that when Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) makes promise, it fulfils the promise. We have never disappointed anybody. It is amazing what we have been able to do within this period”, the governor stressed.
Speaking further, Wike expressed gratitude to Rivers people for standing their ground to resist the security agencies when they came to steal their mandate and truncate his re-election.
“Because you gave us the privilege to serve you, we have to pay you back in gratitude. That is why we will provide basic infrastructure that we need in this state.
“In the next few weeks, we are going to flag-off the construction of the cancer and cardiovascular disease centre. It will be the best in this country.
“I said Rivers State deserves the best, and you can see that we are giving you the best for making us proud. You resisted the Army and other security agencies when they came to rig us out.
“We will do everything within our powers for Rivers people. So, be rest assured that we will not sleep until we complete our work”, he promised.
Performing the flag-off of the Nkpolu-Oroworukwo flyover, the South-South Zonal Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Dan Orbih said the performance of Governor Nyesom Wike in office has opened a new floodgate of development in Rivers State.
He noted that Wike has truly become a symbol of what PDP can do and will do when given the opportunity again to govern Nigeria.
“Watching you and seeing all that you have done in the past few months, I am convinced that the challenges and the obstacles you have faced in the course of your stewardship in this state have brought out the best of you, and the state is better for it.
“You have shown courage; you have shown commitment. I have seen that in Rivers State, with what you have done, having the right leadership, everything is possible.
“You have shown that government can work. You have shown that having the right leadership, Nigeria can work again.
“Most of us in the PDP are proud of what you have achieved for the people of Rivers State. I can say proudly that Rivers State is the one place that can compete with Abuja in terms of road network and flyover bridges.”
Also speaking, the Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi said that the project was necessitated by the rapidly changing demography and increasing vehicle count in the city of Port Harcourt.
“Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, the 2nd day of March, 2021, the state government signed two contracts with Julius Berger Nigeria PLC for the construction of two flyovers. One of which, is the Nkpolu-Oroworukwo flyover, which we are flagging off, today.

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2019 Poll Victory: We’re Rewarding Rivers People With Projects -Wike

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says construction of eight flyover bridges in Port Harcourt, alongside other critical infrastructure projects executed, are a mark of appreciation to Rivers people who steadfastly resisted attempts to use the Army and other security agencies to rig his government out of power in 2019.
Wike stated this at the flag-off of the 802meters’ long Orochiri/Wurukwo flyover bridge, made up of a deck span of 315meters, north and south side ramps of 238meters and 249meters, respectively in Port Harcourt, last Saturday.
“Why we are doing this is because you too played a role in bringing us to government. We also have to pay you back. Remember during the last election, how the Army and other security agencies tried to rig us out in that election. All of you here came out and resisted that. So, for us, having given us that privilege, we have no other choice but to give you good infrastructure.”
He explained that the construction of the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover bridge at the intersection of Olu-Obasanjo Road and Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway junction was intended to address traffic jam that would arise when the construction work on the Rumuola and GRA Junction flyovers are completed.
Wike said that the reason why the eight flyover bridges have been awarded to construction giant, Julius Berger, was because of the company’s proven integrity, and his administration’s conviction that Rivers people deserve the best infrastructure.
He noted that people often complain about Julius Berger projects being expensive, but added that on the contrary, it was not so.
“I know a road that Julius Berger bided for, and one other company bided for that road. Julius Berger’s bid for that road was N14billion, and then, the other company, which I will not mention, bided for N6billion. Now, we said well, let’s give it to the company that offered a bid of N6billion. And we did not give Julius Berger. That was not my administration, but I was in the administration then. At the end of the day, we spent over N20billion in doing that work. So, from onset, if we had given it to Julius Berger, it would have been better for us, and that road is what we call Obiri Ikwerre Road.”
He appealed to motorists and commuters to bear the inconvenience they would experience throughout the duration of the construction of the eighth flyover.

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Probe N510.4m Received From IOCs In Bonny, Family Petitions IGP

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The Jumbo Major House Bonny in Rivers State has petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to demand the forensic audit of money received by the Jumbo Major House and its sub-houses from all international oil companies (IOCs) operating in Bonny Island.
The family, in a petition made available to newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja, dated January 8, 2021, and signed by Mr. P.O. Okoroafor of Andy Igboekwe (SAN) & Co Chamber, also urged the IG to freeze all the accounts where stolen money collected from the IOCs companies were domiciled.
The petition is titled, “Re: Grand design to truncate, frustrate, thwart, giving false information to the police with intent to suppress, divert and forestall police investigation predicated upon IGP”.
The petition, which consolidated the earlier one dated February 7, 2020, and titled, “Case of fraud, criminal deceit, misappropriation of money in Jumbo Major House”, alleged that a group involving Asai Jumbo, misappropriated N9million, another one led by Prof. Jasper Jumbo, collected N500million, while that of Sodieye Jumbo allegedly received N1,400,000,000.00″.
In the new petition, which Okoroafor said was authorized by Prince Kalada William-Jumbo, the senior principal member of Jumbo Major House of Grand Bonny Kingdom; and Hon. Charles Omuso Jumbo, elder and member of Jumbo Major House, also alleged that suspects in the case were trying to transfer the case from the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID).
“Our client’s petition was approved by the Inspector General of Police vide a letter dated 7th February, 2020 with reference number CB: 7000/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL.472/315, addressed to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), Area 10, Garki, Abuja. This petition was subsequently assigned to Supol Lawal Mohammed of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), who with his formidable team, immediately swung into action with the needed mastery and vigour.”

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