18 December, 2017
BENIN CITY: Following the ruling by a British judge, Justice Sara Elizabeth Cockerill on Friday that up to $85 million from the notorious Malabu oil deal should be returned to the Nigerian government, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ has hailed the judgment and has warned all looters to have a rethink of using the UK financial facilities to undermine Nigeria’s development.
ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor in a Statement issued in Benin noted that the $85million being the first money to be successfully recovered from the $1.1 billion sale of the incredibly rich offshore oil block, OPL245, that has been caught up in corruption allegations and years of legal battle, the final judgment shows clearly that there is no hiding place anymore for corrupt Nigerians anywhere in the world.
“The UK court ruling is a global signal to kleptomaniacs and the looting machine in Nigeria to have a re-think of using the UK financial facilities to undermine Nigeria’s development,” ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor said.
The ANEEJ helmsman further called on the UK and Nigerian governments to provide an enabling environment for Civil Society to monitor the utilization of the return of $85million to Nigeria. “We state this from our past experience. There is need for openness, transparency and accountability in how the $85million is returned and utilized for Nigerian people, particularly the poor amongst us,” Ugolor said.
“The UK, US and Swiss Embassies in Nigeria should build alliance with the Nigerian Asset Recovery Network to develop a collective action that will provide a framework for the implementation of a post-GFAR agenda,” Ugolor stated.
It would be recalled that the sale which was brokered by the government of Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, supposedly resolved a long-running contest for the block between oil giant Shell and shelf company Malabu, beneficially owned by former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete.
According to a report by Premium Times, Mr. Etete effectively awarded the oil block to himself when he was oil minister in 1998, but only walked away with the money for it 13 years later after Shell and Italian Oil Company ENI paid the Nigerian government for the block. The government paid $801.5 million to Malabu, but not before $215 million was restrained by the UK Commercial Court after an Etete associate brought a case claiming their share. The $85 million is what remains in the UK courts funds office after years of legal battle.
“We commend the Honourable Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami and his team, for working hard to ensure the victory of the Nigerian Government in court in far-away United Kingdom” Rev. David Ugolor stated.