Punch / Nigeria: Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday said he did not send the Chairman of A. A. Oil, Abubakar Aliyu, or any other person to take any money as a bribe in the controversial $1.3bn Malabu oil deal.
Jonathan, according to a statement in Abuja by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, said the negotiations for the $1.3bn oil deal, involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell, predated his Presidency, which began on May 6, 2010.
“We make bold to point out that the former President never sent any Abubakar Aliyu, as the innuendoes in the false report suggested, to ENI, the IOCs or any indigenous operator to seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf,” the statement read.
It faulted news reports which indicated that the former President received kickbacks in the $1.3bn oil block deal involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.
It stated, “We wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged with corruptly collecting any money as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.”
Denying Jonathan’s involvement in the scandal, the statement explained that the former President met with executives of all the oil majors operating in Nigeria and urged them to, among other things, support the growth of the Nigerian oil industry by ramping up their investments and complying with the Local Content Act that he promoted and signed into law.
It added, “We, however, wish to state, for emphasis, that at no time did the former President hold private meetings with representatives of ENI to discuss pecuniary issues.
“All the meetings and discussions former President Jonathan had with ENI, other IOCs and some indigenous operators were conducted officially and in the presence of relevant Nigerian government officials and were done in the best interest of the country.”
According to the statement, the former President does not own any bank account, aircraft or real estate outside Nigeria.
It stated, “Anyone with contrary information is challenged to publicly publish same.
“As the President who signed the Freedom of Information Act into law, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan lifted the veil on governance and encouraged transparency, knowing that evil breeds in secrecy. It is the opinion of the former President that journalists and media houses should take advantage of this law in their investigative journalism, rather than rely on hearsay.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, a few weeks ago, filed seven counts bordering on the Malabu scam against nine defendants, including the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN).
Other accused persons named in the charges are a former petroleum resources minister, Dan Etete, Aliyu Abubakar, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited, Rocky Top Resources Limited, Imperial Union Limited, Novel Properties & Development Company Limited, Group Construction Limited and Megatech Engineering Limited.
The Malabu oil scam, which has been under investigation for over four years, relates to the billions of dollars paid by oil giants, Shell and ENI, into a Federal Government account, for OPL 245, considered the richest oil block in Africa.
The money was allegedly diverted by Adoke and paid into private accounts.