A Nigerian judge, Danlami Senchi has issued arrest warrants for two former ministers and an Eni manager over the sale of offshore oilfield, OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas in 2011, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission announced on Wednesday.
Former Justice Minister and Attorney –General, Mohammed Adoke, former petroleum minister, Dan Etete and Eni manager, Roberto Casula “are to be arrested anywhere they are found”, as they have been allegedly connected with illegal payments leading to the 2011 deal, the EFCC said in a statement.
The licence, which had originally been awarded in 1998 by Nigeria’s military dictator, Sani Abacha , to Malabu, under successive governments was cancelled, awarded to Shell, and then, to Malabu again.
Eni called the move “disproportionate and detrimental” to the rights of its manager.
“These warrants seem to have originated from the failure by the Nigerian Judicial Authorities to notify and serve the pending proceedings to the Eni managers as per international procedure for the last two years,” it said in a statement.
The $1.3 billion deal has spawned legal cases across several countries, involving Nigerian government officials and senior Eni and Shell executives.
Eni and Shell jointly acquired the field from Malabu, which was owned by Etete. An on-going case in Milan, alleges that roughly $1.1 billion of the total amount was siphoned to agents and middlemen.
The Milan court has already convicted middlemen, Emeka Obi, a Nigerian citizen, and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo, on corruption charges. Shell and Eni have denied all wrongdoing.
In a statement, the EFCC says the defendants had repeatedly failed to appear before the court in Abuja and that the Nigerian police, INTERPOL and any other law enforcement agencies would have the authority arrest the involved parties.
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