An English court has thrown out a $1.1 billion case Nigeria filed against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni.

Reuters reports that the case is the dispute over the OPL 245 oilfield, also referred to as the Malabu oil scam in the local press.

However, a related trial in Italy will continue.

The President Muhammadu Buhari led Nigerian government filed the case in 2018 at a commercial court in London.

The government alleges that payments made by the companies to get the oilfield licence in 2011 during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, were used for kickbacks and bribes.

Goodluck Jonathan was Nigerian President when the deal to acquire OPL 245 was cut (AFP)
Goodluck Jonathan was Nigerian President when the deal to acquire OPL 245 was cut (AFP)

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Justice Butcher said in his ruling that the High Court “must decline jurisdiction over the action against” Shell and the other defendants.

Eni said it was pleased that the London court had rejected its jurisdiction in the matter, noting that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. SEC had both closed investigations of Eni on OPL 245 matters without taking any action.

A Shell spokeswoman said the company welcomed the decision. “We maintain that the 2011 settlement... related to OPL 245 was a fully legal transaction with Eni and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN),” she said.

An unnamed spokesperson for Nigeria told Reuters that the federal government was “naturally disappointed that the court has declined jurisdiction.

“Nigeria continues to support the criminal proceedings underway in Milan ... we intend to seek permission to appeal this decision (in London)."