NigerianBulletin – A British judge has questioned the integrity of Nigeria’s ex president Goodluck Jonathan and refused to release a seized $85 million (N17 billion) to Malabu, a fraudulent company controlled by Nigeria’s former petroleum minister, Dan Etete.
“I cannot simply assume that the FGN which was in power in 2011 and subsequently until 2015 rigorously defended the public interest of the people of Nigeria in all respects,” Justice Edis of the Southwark Crown court said.
The judge also made reference to evidence provided by the Italian authorities that ex-President Jonathan was directly involved in the fraudulent deal.
“The suggestion from the wiretaps is that “Fortunato” was implicated and I am told that this was a reference in code (not subtle) to the former President of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan,” the judge said.
“Aliyu (Abubakar) is said to be associated with him and Aliyu received, in a way which was not transparent, $523m of the money paid for the OPL 245 licence in August 2011.”
The Jonathan administration had controversially approved the transfer of $1.092 billion from Nigeria’s JP Morgan account in London to Nigerian accounts controlled by Malabu.
The money was paid by global oil giants, Shell and ENi, for Africa’s richest oil bloc, OPL 245.
The former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and the former Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, signed the documents approving the transfer to Malabu.
The $85 million was seized at the request of Italian prosecutors who are also investigating the deal. The money was the last part of the OPL 245 largesse not yet distributed.
At a two-day hearing that started on November 23, Mr. Etete’s lawyers argued that there was no fraud in the deal and asked that the money be released to him.