Ijaw youths have lampooned the Federal Government over what they termed the continuous harassment of former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete and fruitless attempts to transfer ownership and control of Malabu Oil block to its preferred candidates.
Speaking under the auspices of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide, the youths questioned why despite the huge number of Oil blocks in private hands in Nigeria the government seems to be obsessed with the Malabu Oil block that is already sold to International Oil Companies.
It would be recalled that the Malabu Oilfield, popularly known as ‘OPL 245’, which is believed to be the richest oil block in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, holding an estimate of over 9 billion barrels of crude oil in deposit was purchased by Shell and Agip-Eni from Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd., a firm with ties to Dan Etete, following a 2011 approval by the Goodluck Jonathan administration after years of controversy.
A statement from the Spokesman of the IYC, Daniel Dasimaka says the continued attempts by the Buhari administration to undo the sales deal was a fight to gain ownership and control of OPL 245 for the Government’s preferred candidates and has nothing to do with the interest of the nation.
The statement reads in part:
“We find the obsession of the Buhari led government with OPL 245 very strange and shameful. There are many Nigerians mostly non-Niger Deltans who own and control Oil blocks in places in the Niger Delta they don’t even know and may never visit and have become Billionaires as a result of that. We have not heard of the Federal Government harassing them at any point. So why is it that Nigerian Governments from Obasanjo to Buhari have been obsessed with that Malabu Oil field as if it’s the only one in the country? We believe that the continued harassment of Dan Etete despite the fact that he has been hunted to sell off his block is an extension of ethnic based political domination in Nigeria.”
You would recall that in February this year, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami wrote to President Buhari revealing that after due examination of the Malabu case files he was able to determine that the EFCC has no significant evidence to prove its allegations of sharp practices against Etete and his company as well as other related to the deal.
He also noted that the Malabu deal was legitimate because it was approved by three presidents and so executed by the highest authority in Nigeria and remains sacrosanct.
Malami also advised that if Buhari proceeds with the Malabu deal probe, it will send a wrong message to foreign investors.
Giving the above we wonder why the Government has decided to try the Malabu deal in the Media.
We are therefore calling on President Buhari to leave Dan Etete alone so that he(Buhari) would not thread the same ignoble path former President Olusegen Obasanjo threaded when he revoked the license of Malabu in 2001 and was ordered by the National Assembly to return same and wasted the nation’s time and energy and later bowing in 2006.”
“You would recall that in 2001 the Obasanjo-led Federal Government revoked OPL 245. The Obasanjo administration then invited some international oil companies (IOCs) to bid for the block. Shell participated and won the bid. Etete petitioned the Federal House of Representatives, which conducted a public hearing and concluded that the revocation of the transaction and sale to Shell were in bad faith. ”
“The House passed a resolution that OPL 245 be returned to Malabu. The Federal Government ignored the resolution of the House, a situation that compelled Malabu to take legal action in a series of litigation until 2006 when it reached an out-of-court settlement, which was subsequently reduced to a consent judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja.”
“What this shows is that just as President Buhari’s own Attorney General has advised him, he would only waste the nation’s resources and endanger our national interest in the pursuit of private interest if he continues to persecute Etete over the Malabu deal.”