The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has written to President Buhari, urging him to back off on his administration’s legal battles against the principal actors in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.
In his letter to Mr. Buhari, Mr. Malami said, following due examination of the case files, he was able to determine that the EFCC has no significant evidence to prove its allegations of sharp practices against prominent players like Bello Adoke, Diezani Alison-Madueke and others.
Besides, he said, the Nigerian government risks being portrayed before the international community and foreign investors as an unserious country that could not be trusted to live up to its obligations to international partners.
“Clearly, potential investors will not have the confidence to invest in Nigeria if the government of the country is perceived as one which does not honour its commitments,” Mr. Malami said of the OPL 245 oil deal which was approved by at least three former Nigerian Attorney-Generals.
The scandal over the OPL 245 oil block began in 2011 when the Goodluck Jonathan administration approved its purchase by Shell and Agip-Eni from Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd., a suspected briefcase firm with ties to Dan Etete, a convicted criminal who was Nigeria’s petroleum minister from 1995 to 1998.
The Jonathan administration officials who participated in the negotiation preceding the controversial sale of the massive oil block included Mohammed Bello Adoke, Attorney-General at the time; and Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was petroleum minister.
EFCC has been pursuing fraud and criminal conspiracy charges against Mr. Adoke, Mr. Etete and their alleged accomplices since 2016. Messrs. Adoke and Etete are believed to be at large, and the anti-graft agency had repeatedly sought to fish them out.
Mr. Adoke said the sale was approved to save Nigeria from huge financial losses that could arise from international arbitration lawsuits.