In a report published by Buzzfeed concerning the ongoing international investigation over the controversial Malabu Oil Deal, former President Goodluck Jonathan was alleged to have probably received $200m of the $1.3bn paid by Shell and Eni for OPL 245 oil block considered to be one of the richest in Africa.
Shell, had on Monday, after leaked emails showed that it may have known that the $1.3bn it paid for the oil bloc was some form of bribery, confessed to knowing the money will be used to “pay off” some individuals.
Shell’s partners Eni, has said an internal investigation found no wrongdoing.
BBC, in a report on Tuesday, also said that emails showed that Jonathan allegedly received $466m which was shared among himself and members of his government.
BBC also reported that Shell and Eni negotiated with Etete one year before the $1.3bn payment was made in 2011.
Dan Etete, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister in 1998 who is a convicted money launderer, had awarded the licence for OPL 245 oil block to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company he partly owned.
That contract was nullified by Olusegun Obasanjo when he assumed office as president in 1999.
Obasanjo assigned the oil block to Shell – without public bid. Ownership was suspiciously reverted to Malabu thereafter, leading to legal action by Shell who later resorted to negotiating directly with Etete after President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office in 2010.
Of the $1.3 billion paid by Shell and Eni for the block, only $210 million went into the federal government’s treasury as “signature bonus” while the rest went to Malabu Oil and Gas.
The oil block was handed over to the federal government following a Federal High Court order on January 26.
Shell filed a motion to reverse the order and on March 17, 2017, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered that the oil block be returned to Shell and Eni, an Italian oil company.
Shell’s confession came a day after a recording between its CEO Ben van Beurden, and his then chief financial officer, Simon Henry was leaked. The recording revealed that the company knew that a large percentage of the $1.3bn was going to Etete.
Ben van Beurden, in the phone call, expressed worries that the internal emails Shell’s investigators had uncovered could draw the attention of the United States Justice Department. In particular, he cited emails written by former members of the British spy agency known as MI6 that Shell had hired.
Listen to the conversation below:
Jonathan’s media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, in a statement published by The Nation on Tuesday refuted the allegations that the former president was bribed.
“The man quoted by the report said he ‘assumed’ that Dr. Jonathan would be bribed. Since when has the assumption of a crook been enough to smear the reputation of a patriot and international statesman like Dr. Goodluck Jonathan?
The report also wrongly claimed that ‘Jonathan and Etete had known each other for years, according to Shell staff, when Jonathan served as a tutor to Etete’s children while he was a minister.’ This claim is clearly ridiculous and nothing can be further from the truth.
In the first place, the former President couldn’t have been a ‘tutor’ to Etete’s children without first establishing contact with the family. This is because Jonathan met Etete who served as the Petroleum Minister in Gen. Abacha’s military regime for the first time under the succeeding civilian administration, when he was already the deputy Governor of Bayelsa State. Even then, the fact remains that ex-President Jonathan has never met any of Etete’s children.
Besides, Jonathan couldn’t have been anybody’s private tutor during that period, because he was already in the directorate cadre in Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission, OMPADEC (now NDDC), having already left the academia, at the time Etete was a serving minister.
This story, coming so soon after the fake news that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan refused British help in rescuing the Chibok Girls (a story that the British Government debunked) and that he plans to contest the 2019 elections (another lie), proves that these fallacious stories are deliberately contrived for reasons that are yet to be publicly disclosed.
It is instructive that this same old fable apparently intended to rubbish Jonathan’s name locally and internationally, is being recycled with more lies added to garnish the narrative, at a time the ex-President is making efforts to resolve the issues in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Again, let us point out for clarity and for the umpteenth time that while he was in office and now that he is out of office, former President Jonathan did not open and does not own any bank account, aircraft or real estate outside Nigeria. Anyone with contrary information is challenged to publicly publish same,” he said
Eze added that the Freedom of Information Act which Jonathan signed into law should be used to investigate allegations and so that the truth can be established while appealing to the media to report facts.
Jonathan cannot stop criminals from ‘assuming,’ but he can and will stop them from getting away with blatant lies, the statement added.