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Tinubu orders officials to settle controversial Malabu oil block crisis

Federal Government had in 1998 awarded the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. for 20 million dollars.

President Bola Tinubu. [Premium Times}

Others who received the directive are the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The rest are the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd). Lokpobiri said this in Abuja on Wednesday while speaking with newsmen.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government had in 1998 awarded the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. for 20 million dollars. The license covers a defined deep-water offshore area more than 1,000 metres below sea level and approximately 150 km off the Niger Delta.

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However, with progress in the awards, this has become a pain. It has been a constant source of litigation for successive governments due to allegations surrounding fraud and corruption in awarding the licence.

The minister said that parties involved in the deal were currently negotiating to end the more than 28 years crisis and litigations surrounding the prolific oil block located in the southern Niger Delta in the next month.

The previous administration initiated most of the cases that we are talking about today, and they took us to court, while we took Eni, Malabu, and others to different courts in Europe, Canada, etc, but we didn’t win any of the cases.

“To even shock you, there is one that got us a penalty of over 70 million pounds,” he said.

He said that JP Morgan, a financial institution sued the government for trying to dent its image in the saga, adding that the penalty was now binding on Nigeria.

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So we have been fined over 70 million pounds by the court. Who will pay for that? You and I will pay that, or our children will pay, because it is a judgement debt.

“And in all the ones we pursue in Switzerland and other locations, we have no evidence to get a conviction.

“And so it makes sense for this government to come and say that for 28 years, this block has been idle.

“This is a prolific block that will add so much value to our economy, so let’s see how we can resolve the problem,” he stated.

He said they were in talks with Eni and Shell, to see how they could resolve all the problems. He said that at the last meeting, it was agreed that parties should go on with negotiations and reconvene within one month to see how we will be able to sort out all the issues so that the investment can continue.

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According to him, the parties of the Federal Government interfacing with Eni and Shell is the Attorney-General of the Federation, which leads the delegation. It includes NUPRC, EFCC, NNPC Ltd, and the Minister of State for Petroleum

“We are transparent about this process. We have a full government in resolving this matter. Everything is being done transparently.

“This process has nothing to benefit the President as an individual, his interest is the welfare of Nigerians and to attract investments to the sector for Nigerians to benefit from God-given natural resources,” the minister added.

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