Mohammed Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation, says he did not broker the controversial OPL 245 deal between the federal government and Malabu Oil and Gas in 2011.
In a statement by Victor Akhidenor, his media officer, Adoke also denied receiving bribe from anyone in respect to the transaction.
Adoke had earlier claimed that he did no wrong concerning the deal and that some powerful interests were using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to persecute him.
In a rejoinder to a newspaper editorial which pinpointed him as the leader of the team that brokered the deal, the former AGF said he “merely acted as a facilitator on behalf of the federal government”.
He said his role as a facilitator “was to ensure that the federal government was released from the contingent liability arising from the arbitration instituted by Shell, which claimed to have de-risked the block at substantial cost with the knowledge and approval of the government”.
He noted that the Malabu transaction preceded his term in office as the initial allocation of the oil block took place in 1998 during the military administration of the late Sani Abacha.
Adoke also recalled that the Abacha administration had allocated the oil block to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited “in pursuance of the FG’s policy of promoting indigenous participation in the upstream sector of the oil industry”.
“It is instructive to note that at the time of Adoke’s involvement in 2011, the title to OPL 245 was already vested in Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, the signature bonus of $210million was already fixed by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Shell had already paid $1 Million and kept the balance of $209 in an escrow account jointly managed by Shell and FGN with JP Morgan”, he said in the statement.
“It was Malabu’s dissatisfaction with the revocation that led to series of litigation between it and the FG. Shell, aware of the pending litigation paid only $1 million out of the $210 million signature bonus that was fixed by the administration of President Obasanjo to the government and warehoused the balance of $209 into an escrow account jointly managed by Shell and the FG.
“Mr. Adoke has also made it clear that in 2006, Malabu and the FG reached a settlement, which was reduced to a consent judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja. Under the terms of settlement agreement dated 30th November 2006, the FGN agreed to restore OPL 245 to Malabu and Malabu agreed to withdraw its pending litigation against the FG.
“However Shell was dissatisfied with this arrangement and commenced investor/state arbitration before ICSID claiming over $2 billion as damages from the FG.
“Also at the time, the federal government was exposed to a potential liability of over $2 billion arising from the Investor/state arbitration instituted by Shell before ICSID. OPL 245 could not be operated because Malabu was unable to get a technical partner as a result of the caveat that Shell had put on the Block.”
He said that in a bid to resolve the contending issues as was “reflected in the OPL 245 resolution agreement and re-allocation agreement of 2011,” the federal government agreed to act as facilitator “to ensure that Malabu relinquished its title to OPL 245 and the re-allocation of same to shell/eni”.
“The FG was thus entitled to its signature bonus of $210 million as fixed by the administration of President Obasanjo; Malabu as owner of OPL 245 got the proceeds of its sale of the block and shell/eni paid Malabu the agreed sum they had negotiated amongst themselves,” he added.