Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, yesterday ordered an interim forfeiture of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL 245) otherwise known as Malabu oil, to the Federal Government.
The order will last pending the conclusion of investigation and prosecution of Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited and other individuals named in connection with the act of conspiracy, bribery, official corruption and money laundering.
Justice Tsoho also ordered the Department of Petroleum Resources to manage the oil processing licence of OPL 245 on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had approached the court yesterday following controversies and allegations of fraud associated with the licencing of the oil Bloc.
In a 21-paragraph affidavit sworn to by one Ibrahim Ahmed, accompanied with an ex parte originating summons, the EFCC stated that the properties attached were proceeds of crime that should be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The anti graft agency added that it had taken the steps in public interest in view of the crimes and fraud against the economic interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
It stated that sometime in April 1998, Malabu Oil & Gas Limited was incorporated in Nigeria with shareholders namely: Mohammed Sani, fronting for the late General Sani Abacha, Kwekwu Amafegha representing the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete and Hassan Hindu on behalf of Ambassador Hassan Adamu.
It also stated that in the same month, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources offered the company deep water oil bloc processing licence in respect of OPL 245.
That in June 1998, General Abacha died and between 1999 and 2000, the cooperate status and share holding structures were uttered several times through forged board resolutions which eventually divested Mohammed Sani of their shares while new shareholders and directors were appointed fraudulently.
Though the EFCC had earlier filed charges against some of the suspects, including the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, the order obtained by the EFCC yesterday appeared to clear the stage for the prosecution of more suspects.