Few days before the end of his tenure, former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Bello Adoke, connived to award more than $3 billion in crude oil to a Chinese oil company linked to a controversial businessman, Emeka Offor, SaharaReporters has reliably learned.
The highly questionable deal was consummated through a judgment handed down by a High Court judge who was also in on the deal, according to a source close to the deal.
In December 2014, Addax Petroleum Development (Nigeria) Limited and Addax Petroleum Exploration (Nigeria) Limited, sued the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) seeking a huge financial award in what the company described as miscalculation of oil royalty and taxes, and breach of their 1998 “production sharing” contract with the NNPC in respect of certain oil fields.
The contract covered oil-prospecting licenses (OPL) 98/118 (now Oil Mining Leases 123, 124, 136 and 137).
In an extensive interview with our correspondent, the source claimed that Addax’s lawsuit was at the urging of Mr. Adoke, who should have been protecting the Nigerian public’s interest.
In a letter dated April 2, 2015, Mr. Adoke proposed that President Jonathan approve an out-of-court settlement of the lawsuit, tagged FJC/ABJ/CS/1099/2014 and filed on December 23, 2014. In the letter to President Jonathan, the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice also indicated that he was attaching a letter dated the same day from the legal department of the NNPC.
Mr. Adoke’s letter was fast-tracked in a manner that two legal authorities separately described as “highly unusual” and “unseemly.” On May 25, a mere four days before the end of President Jonathan’s tenure, a Federal High Court judge in Abuja had concluded the terms of the out-of-court settlement. The judge’s “judgment order” excluded the office of the AGF because Mr. Adoke did not send any lawyers to represent the government at the final judgment.
“It’s highly curious that the ‘judgment order” did not list the AGF’s office as a defendant in the lawsuit. Yet, the AGF [Adoke] was the person generating a legal memo to the president [Jonathan] for an out-of-court settlement,” said an Abuja-based lawyer after reviewing the case.
Nonetheless, the judge read out the terms of the agreement and gave an order sealing it, but his judgment order did not include the hidden cost of the judgment.
This act of judicial concealment has baffled the lawyers who looked at the document. SaharaReporters obtained a copy of the hidden terms of agreement that puts the total value of NNPC’s indebtedness to Addax at more than $3 billion—specifically, a whopping $3,491,588,729.64. The judgment debt would be paid to Addax via crude oil lifting that could last for numerous years, an NNPC source disclosed.
Addax Petroleum has claimed that a letter signed by Funsho Kupolokun, who was adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Petroleum, gave the company the right to a production-sharing contract relating to the oil fields named in their original lawsuit.
Addax also claimed that, because of that letter from the presidential adviser, his company spent about $3 billion on the development of the oil fields.
One of the lawyers who reviewed the case for SaharaReporters wondered why it took Addax no earlier than 2014 before they sued the Federal Government for the alleged breach of contract.
Contacted by SaharaReporters to disclose Mr. Offor’s full involvement in the judgement scam, his representatives expressed preference for communication by email.
Hours after we complied, Edwin Ndukwe of the Communications Department of Offor’s Chrome Group sent a response in which he denied that Mr. Offor was the ‘outlet’ through which Addax facilitated the settlement.
“Sir Emeka had absolutely no hand or control in the proceedings of the court, which led to the outcome you inferred,” he said. “He is not a shareholder and he did not enter into any agreement to influence or sponsor the outcome of the court’s decision. Addax Petroleum is gigantic enough to weigh in by itself on any judicial matters bothering on their business conduct in Nigeria.”
He asserted that the Addax/Kaztec business to business relationship began in 2010 when Kaztec was awarded the TB 1921 contract for the installation of subsea pipeline and topsides in OML 123.
“Since then, the relationship grew between the two as evident in the project being duly completed. Kaztec is a wholly 100% owned indigenous EPIC service provider in the oil & gas industry. It has performed very well over the years and have received numerous commendations for their technical competence and their ability to deliver on projects timeously and at significantly reduced cost from not just Addax but other firms.”
We also reached out to NNPC spokesperson, Ohi Alegebe to ask how the NNPC intends to pay the debt as stipulated in the final judgement. He said he needed to reach the Legal Department of the NNPC to find out the details, but did not get back to us at the time of publishing this story.
For their part, Addax offices in Abuja told our reporters that all of the company communication personnel were tied up in a training which involved the Managing Director, Mr. Cor Zegelaar, and cannot respond to our inquiries until next week.
In a recent interview with Premium Times, former President Obasanjo openly accused Mr. Offor of scamming Nigeria out of billions of dollars in the so-called turn-around maintenance of refineries, calling him an ‘amateur’ who knew nothing about maintaining a refinery. He stated that Mr. Offor had infiltrated the police and anti-corruption agencies and NNPC officials to facilitate his scams.
“[We met] refineries that were not working, refineries that were given to an amateur for repairs, for maintenance, what they call turn-around maintenance, to the company of Emeka Offor – Chrome Group,” he said of his government. “Where has Emeka Offor maintained refineries before? Where has he? That’s what we met. So the refineries were not working.”
Reminded by his interviewers that despite that discovery he did not recover any money from Mr. Offor, the former President replied: “What can you recover? A man who was paid upfront? He had people. He got some police…people were there. And like they have said to you now, look, if it works for a week, that’s all you get. And Emeka Offor, after I left he became friends with every government that has come. Now he’s not only into refinery and oil and all that, he’s now also in energy!”