HEDA asks FG to prosecute Shell, Eni over OPL 245 deal — after Italian court acquittal

HEDA asks FG to prosecute Shell, Eni over OPL 245 deal — after Italian court acquittal
April 11
11:54 2021

The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), a civil society organisation, says oil giants, Shell and Eni, must be prosecuted in a Nigerian court over their role in the OPL 245 deal.

An Italian court had acquitted Shell, Eni and other defendants of corruption charges in the OPL 245 deal.

TheCable had reported that Dan Etete, former minister of petroleum, said Nigerian courts must strike out charges against him following the ruling of the Italian court.

But a coalition of civil society organisations involving Global Witness, HEDA, Re:Common and The Corner House had asked the federal government to press corruption charges against Eni, Shell, and other defendants in a Nigerian court.


Eni, an Italian oil and gas company, had described the demand as “unjustified” saying there is no reason for a new trial to be held in Nigeria.

However, in a statement on Saturday, HEDA said the trial must be held as the oil giants are not in a position to determine otherwise.

HEDA said its demand is contained in a letter sent to President Muhammadu Buhari and signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, its chairman.


In the letter, the anti-corruption group said Nigeria is a sovereign nation with established legal institutions to determine cases on its own.

The group said the case should be tried under Nigerian law which has entirely different rules of evidence to those in Italy.

“Nigeria is not a satellite country of Italy. Eni’s request is arrant nonsense. Nigeria had no say in the Milan prosecutor’s decision to prosecute Eni, Shell and others. This was a choice solely for the Italian authorities. It was only once the trial had started that Nigeria was able to intervene as a civil party. As Eni knows full well, a civil party is not the same as a prosecutor,” the group said in the letter.

“Mr President, this is a shameful manipulation of the facts. The case against Eni in Nigeria is already being heard: it is not a “new” case. Eni, as a defendant, must know this. Why then is the company seeking to pull the wool over the eyes of the Nigerian public?


“It is entirely proper that Nigeria, as a sovereign country, should try offences committed in Nigeria under its own laws. Nigeria is not a colony of Italy and it would be wholly repugnant for Nigeria to outsource its justice system to another country whose laws and court procedures differ radically. Eni is entirely silent on this issue.”

HEDA said the trial in Nigeria has some different defendants (including the companies, which are subsidiaries of Eni Spa not Eni Spa itself) and no principle of double-jeopardy applies under judicial cooperation agreements between Italy and Nigeria.

The group said allegations made by Piero Amara, a former legal adviser to the company, on the information used by Eni in the OPL 245 prosecution in Milan must be taken seriously.

Amara alleged that Eni had ordered information to be gathered on prosecutors, board members and journalists in a bid to gain an advantage in the trial.


“If anyone has knowledge of the details of that scheme, it is likely to be Amara. His testimony should therefore be taken seriously, even if denied by Eni. Indeed, a joint statement issued on the 30 March 2021 by the Chief Prosecutor and Chief Judge of the Milan Tribunal confirms that “interference” in the OPL 245 trial has been ascertained,” HEDA said.

“The law should now be upheld without fear or favour. Eni may squeal, but Nigeria should remain deaf to that squealing. If Nigeria is not to see its standing internationally damaged, the trial must be allowed to continue to its conclusion.”



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