$1.3bn Malabu Bribe: Court Acquits Eni, Shell In OPL 245 Trial
After nearly three years of legal fireworks following the first trial, a Milan court, yesterday, acquitted Eni and Shell over a $1.3billion Oil Prospecting License (OPL) bribery allegation.
This was even as Royal Dutch Shell said it will continue to defend charges against it in relation to OPL 245 in Nigeria.
The court had finally established that Eni, its CEO, Claudio Descalzi, and management involved in the proceedings have all behaved in a lawful and appropriate manner.
‘‘Eni has throughout maintained its full confidence in the court’s fair and balanced investigation.
“Today, Eni expresses its gratitude for the trust placed by its stakeholders throughout the course of the trial, particularly in upholding the company’s management and the conduct of its business, and respecting its reputation,’’ Eni said in a statement.
In 2011, Shell reached an agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria and Eni to settle litigation and arbitration dating back nearly a decade related to OPL 245.
This was an unprecedented situation, where the Federal Government of Nigeria had separately allocated the same block to two different parties: Shell and Malabu.
The 2011 Resolution Agreement, which was negotiated at the highest levels of the relevant government departments, aimed to resolve the long-standing disputes over the block and enable its development, generating economic activity and revenues that all parties would benefit from.
Unfortunately, the block had remained undeveloped.
Commenting on the judgment, Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell plc, Ben van Beurden, said “We welcome today’s decision by the Milan tribunal. We have always maintained that the 2011 settlement was legal, designed to resolve a decade-long legal dispute and unlock development of the OPL 245 block.
“At the same time, this has been a difficult learning experience for us. Shell is a company that operates with integrity and we work hard every day to ensure our actions not only follow the letter and spirit of the law, but also live up to society’s wider expectations of us.”
The oil companies had paid $210million as signature bonus to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In Nigeria, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who was attorney-general of the federation when the OPL 245 dispute was resolved and Malabu Oil & Gas Limited sold the block to the multinational companies in 2011, has always insisted the transaction was legal and legitimate.
In his memoirs, “Burden of Service: The Reminiscences of Nigeria’s Former Attorney-General”, published in 2019, Adoke, who had been accused of corruption in the deal by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), vehemently denied taking any bribe — “not even a cup of tea or a slice of cake” — in the OPL 245 deal.
Lawmaker Charges Politicians On Electoral Promises
A Lawmaker representing Lagos Mainland, Federal House of Representatives, Mr Olanrewaju Oshun, on Saturday charged politicians to fulfil their electoral promises to the masses, to continually gain their trust.
Oshun said this in an interview with The Tide’s source after casting his vote at PU 03, Ward 008, Lagos Mainland Local Government Area, for the Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections in Lagos.
According to him, Nigeria’s politics has changed to an era where electorate expect that only politicians who deliver on their mandate should be voted for.
“At this era, politicians must understand the fact that they need to fulfil their electoral promises and be close to the people.
“The masses are more conscious that it is only politicians who perform well that should earn their vote”, he said.
Oshun expressed optimism that the will of the people would prevail in the elections, having voted for their choices.
On his assessment of the election, he lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for improving on the conduct of the election, compared to the performance of the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
According to him, the INEC officials arrived early at most polling units across the state, the Bi-modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) functioned effectively, while the overall process of the election was seamless.
“There is a great improvement in the conduct of the election, compared to the hitches we had at the last election.
“People have voted and made their opinion known, so it should be counted and let the best candidate win”. he said.
The lawmaker noted that the turnout for the election was impressive.
Oshun said, “one cannot say there is voter apathy as such, as reported in some quarters because people cast their votes in few minutes and left almost immediately.
The source reports that Oshun was re-elected during the Feb. 25 National Assembly Election to represent his constituency.
ICPC Arrests Four Vote-Buyers In Sokoto, Katsina
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arrested four vote-buyers in Sokoto and Katsina states during the just-concluded Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections last Saturday.
In its election monitoring operations across the states of the federation, officers of the anti-corruption agency encountered some vote-buyers at Kauran Miyo Primary School in Bodingo Town of Bodinga Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
The Spokesperson, ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, revealed this on Saturday night in a statement obtained by The Tide source.
She noted that the Sokoto State monitoring team of the commission arrested three male vote-buyers; Mahe Bello, Musa Adamu and Mustapha Mohammed, all of Kauran Miyo Bodinga.
Ogugua said, “Mahe Bello was caught in possession of a cash sum of N38,000, two PVCs, one ATM card and an Infinix phone, while Musa Adamu had CFA228,000 in his possession which was being offered to voters. The third suspect, Mustapha Mohammed, was arrested with some PVCs in his possession”.
According to her, the ICPC monitoring team, however, came under attack while carrying out the arrest of the three vote-buyers.
This was as she noted that an officer of the commission, Rabiu Ibrahim, suffered a head injury from being hit by stones, and has been admitted into a hospital and he is in a stable condition.
She added that the three alleged vote-buyers were kept in the custody of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps before being conveyed to ICPC’s detention facility in Sokoto.
In a related development, the ICPC election monitoring team in Katsina State arrested one Tanimu Tabale for vote-buying at Tashar Yamma Polling Unit in Zango Local Government Area of the State.
Tabale, a 35-year-old man, claimed he was an observer in Makama Polling Unit but was arrested at Tashar Yamma Polling Unit with the sum of N20,000 in different denominations attempting to buy the votes and was apprehended.
Elections: LG Chairman Lauds Officials … Says No Security Breach In Keffi
Chairman of Keffi Local Government Area (LGA), Nasarawa State, Alhaji Muhammad Baba-Shehu, has lauded concerned officials for ensuring the absence of security breach during Saturday’s elections in the area.
Baba-Shehu gave the commendation while speaking with Newsmen shortly after the State’s Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Keffi.
Baba-shehu noted that the success recorded was as a result of the zeal and commitment of security agencies in the area.
According to him, officers of the concerned security agencies worked hard to ensure no one carried out any act that would destabilise the peace being enjoyed in the area.
“So far, as the Chief Security Officer of the area, I have not received any report of any breach in security and that is because our security personnel are up and doing.
“All the security agencies in Keffi LG did what they know best and what was expected of them. They were in every corner of the community”, he said.
Baba-Shehu who stated that the peaceful conduct of the elections in the area was commendable, and lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for ensuring the process met Nigerians’ expectations.
“I also have to commend INEC officials because the electoral materials reached polling units in good time and the election process also started early. So, there was no complaint of delay of accreditation or voting in Keffi”, he said.
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