Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has denied media reports that he received bribes in the $1.3billion Oil Prospecting Licence, OPL 245 oil block deal involving Italian oil company, ENI and Royal Dutch Shell of the Netherlands.
According to reports, Italian prosecutors had, in court documents filed last month in Milan, claimed that ENI Chief Executive, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni, met Dr. Jonathan personally to discuss the deal.
They further alleged that Dr. Jonathan and former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, benefited from the $466 million allegedly used to bribe some Nigerian government officials and another $54 million withdrawn by one Abubakar Aliyu, who the prosecutors claimed was Jonathan’s agent.
However, in a statement by Ikechukwu Eze, his media adviser, Dr Jonathan said he did not receive any kick-back or know any Abubakar Aliyu and insisted that his hands are clean over the Malabu deal. This came as the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, IYC, decried what it described as the sustained persecution of Ijaw people and the Niger-Delta by the present administration and wondered why the Malabu oil deal had been singled out for probe while other oil blocks awarded at the same time and through the same process were left untouched.
Jonathan’s statement The Jonathan statement read: "Our attention has been drawn to news reports published mostly by online media, which suggested, through innuendo, rather than factual evidence, that former President Goodluck Jonathan received kickbacks in the $1.3bn OPL 245 oil block deal involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.
"With regards to the publication, we wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged for corruptly collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.
"In the first place, we have to categorically state that the negotiations and transactions for the oil bloc deal pre-date the Presidency of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, which began on May 6, 2010 and ended on May 29, 2015.
"It may interest those promoting this false narrative to know that all the documents relating to the transactions, issues and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabu issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice. As President of Nigeria, there is no doubt that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan 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 comply with the Local Content Act that he promoted and signed into law.
"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.
"We make bold to point out that the former President never sent any Abubakar Aliyu, as the innuendoes in the false report suggest, to ENI, the IOCs or any indigenous operator to seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf.
"We will like to point out for the umpteenth time that whether in office or out of office, former President Jonathan does not own any bank account, aircraft or real estate outside Nigeria. 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. We hope that these clarifications will help guide future reports which should be factual."
It’s witch hunt against Niger Delta –IYC Describing the Malabu oil deal probe as unacceptable, IYC, which also carpeted the Federal Government on its stance on dialogue over the Niger-Delta, said the Malabu oil deal has been subjected to sustained probe because it is owned by a Niger Deltan.
In a chat with journalists in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, IYC President, Udengs Eradiri, enjoined the Federal Government and foreign countries involved in the probe to hands-off, for the sake of peace in the region.
He said: "Malabu probe is designed to witch-hunt the Niger Delta people. The Federal Government should hands off the Malabu issue because you cannot be probing Malabu and leaving others that emanated from the same process.
"This is a country where oil blocks were awarded and allocated to cronies and nobody is saying anything about them but because Malabu is owned by a Niger Deltan and an Ijaw man, it is being probed everyday for no reason. If they want to investigate Malabu, they should investigate every other person that has been awarded oil blocs in this country. They awarded oil blocs to their friends, cronies and brothers.
"OPL 244, OPL245 and OPL 246, which were awarded the same day through the same process and most of the oil blocks were awarded to people from the North; they are enjoying their largesse but everyday Malabu is subjected to probe. The signature bonus in this country is $20million but Malabu paid $210 million as signature bonus and yet nobody is talking but we the Niger Delta people will not be quiet.
"This is how they brought down All States Trust Bank, Oceanic Bank, Diezani Allison, and Jonathan administration, dragging him in the mud every day. This is how this administration sacked Ijaw people in the NNPC. The Federal Government and the foreign countries should hands off Malabu."