Following claims allegedly before a London that he got bribes from the Malabu Oil deal, former President Goodluck Jonathan, has attributed it all to propaganda to smear him.
Reuters had published some details of the Federal Government’s claims that Jonathan and former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke got bribes from the controversial Malabu deal. Media houses, including online publications proceeded to reproduce the story.
But in a statement titled “On Malabu: Let The Facts, Rather Than Propaganda, Guide All Concerned”, Jonathan, through his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, described the alleged government position in the London court “as intentioned to eclipse the goodwill and positive reports of former President Jonathan’s diligent engagement in South Africa’s national and provisional elections”.
His full statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to a media report which alleged that lawyers to the Federal Government had, in a London court filing, accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of accepting bribes in order “to broker a $1.3 billion oil deal eight years ago.” We will quickly dismiss this report as a recycled falsehood that is blatantly dishonest, cheap, and predictable.
“Although there is nothing new in this fabricated bribery claim which we had severally debunked in the past, we will continue to restate the following facts:
* Former President Goodluck Jonathan did not ask for or collect any bribes, neither has he been charged for asking or collecting bribes, neither will he ever be charged with asking for or collecting bribes, because such never happened.
* That this particular dispute predated the Jonathan administration and survives it.
* That former President Jonathan is 61 years old and throughout his life has never opened an account, nor owned property outside Nigeria. Perhaps those behind this latest propaganda would be bold enough to make the same deposition?
“The fact remains that as recent national events continue to vindicate former President Jonathan, and as the world continues to celebrate him, those who are insecure will feed such propaganda to their media agents to feed their inferiority complex.
“In fact, we expected something like this ever since it was announced that former President Jonathan would lead the Election Observation Mission of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa to South Africa’s national and provincial elections.
“We are well aware that this claim was intentioned to eclipse the goodwill and positive reports of former President Jonathan’s diligent engagement in South Africa’s national and provisional elections.
“The fact that most major media houses in the country refused to republish this falsehood bears out our conviction that Nigerians can no longer be deceived by hollow and diversionary claims of corruption, in the face of worsening state of affairs in the country.
“We have always made it clear that beyond this wave of conjecture, former President Jonathan was not linked, indicted or charged for collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.
“It bears repeating that the documents relating to the transactions and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabo issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the relevant Government offices, where they are accessible.
“We would like to point out that all the actions taken by the Jonathan administration in relation to activities in the oil industry were legally conducted by relevant Nigerian Government officials and were carried out in the best interest of the country.
“Finally, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we will like to point out that whether in office or out of office, former President Jonathan still does not own any bank account, business or real estate outside Nigeria. It, therefore, beggars belief that so much useful energy is channelled by dark forces into this futile bid to bring down a man whose political ambition was not and still is not worth the blood of any citizen”.
In the Reuters story, it was reported that the federal government accused former President Goodluck Jonathan and his then oil minister of accepting bribes and breaking the country’s laws to broker a $1.3 billion oil deal eight years ago, a London court filing shows.
The Reuters report reads further:
The deal, in which Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell and Italian peer Eni jointly acquired the rights to the OPL 245 offshore oilfield, has spawned legal cases spanning several countries.
In papers advancing a London commercial court suit against Shell and Eni, lawyers for the Nigerian government said Jonathan and former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke conspired to “receive bribes and make a secret profit”, keeping the government from getting what it was owed from the deal.
“Bribes were paid,” the filing, reviewed by Reuters, states. It says “the receipt of those bribes and the participation in the scheme of said officials was in breach of their fiduciary duties and Nigerian criminal law.”
A spokesman for Jonathan declined to comment and said the former president was in South Africa as part of an election monitoring team. A London-based lawyer for Madueke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nigerian attorney general Abubakar Malami did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The 2011 deal is also the subject of a corruption trial in Milan in which two middlemen have been convicted and former and current Shell and Eni officials are also on trial.
An Eni spokesman said the Italian firm was assessing whether UK courts had jurisdiction on a case of “such duplication” to the Milan proceedings and repeated its view on “the correctness and compliance of every aspect of the transaction.”
Shell did not immediately comment, but has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in relation to OPL 245.
The London lawsuit relates to payments that Shell and Eni made to acquire the license.
The companies transferred more than $1 billion to the Nigerian government, according to the filing. Milan prosecutors have argued in their case that the bulk of that money was sent on to Malabu Oil and Gas, which was controlled by another former oil minister, Dan Etete.
Eni and Shell retain the rights to develop the field, which has yet to enter production but is one of the biggest untapped oil resources in Africa, with reserves estimated at 9 billion barrels.
In the London court filing, the Nigerian government said it only received a $209 million signature bonus in relation to the deal, and that it estimates the value of the oilfield to have been “at least $3.5 billion”. It said it would seek to calculate damages on that basis.
The Nigerian government has also filed a London case against U.S. bank JPMorgan for its role in transferring over $800 million of government funds to Etete, who has been convicted of money laundering. JPMorgan has denied any wrongdoing.
Dutch prosecutors are also preparing criminal charges against Shell.
Despite the international cases, only Nigerian officials can rescind the rights to the block. Oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has said the case should not hinder development of the field. His office did not immediately reply to a further request for comment. [reut.rs/2HcyAnu]
Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is pursuing a criminal case against other former officials in relation to OPL 245.
President Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected in February, campaigning on the same anti-corruption message that helped him defeat Jonathan in 2015. But opinions within the cabinet differ over how to handle OPL 245.
Some have cited what they view as a lack of evidence, while others point to concerns that taking away the rights could hinder the field’s development in a nation where oil accounts for around 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings.