A civil society organisation, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) has accused Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, of misleading President Muhammadu Buhari over claims that the policy litigation and dispute surrounding an Oil Prospecting Licence 245 (OPL 245) was driving investors away from the country.
HEDA, in a letter addressed to Buhari on Monday signed by its Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the alleged deceit by Malami has led to a series of financial losses which Nigeria has experienced in the oil facility.
The group alleged that the Minister was also misleading the country, accusing him of failing in his duty to provide the President with the facts to make informed decisions on the matter, and of being disrespectful to both the President and his office.
The letter also cited a number of alleged misrepresentations by Malami, including his assertion that the country pursuing a prosecution in the case was a lost endeavour while giving a clean bill of health to the affected companies.
HEDA argued that the position was contradicted by the AGF’s approval of an appeal by the Federal Government to an Italian Supreme Court in its civil claim against Eni and Shell Oil Companies in Italy, which pointed out that Nigeria had won its first case in London, resulting in the return of $80 million to the coffers, with $115 million remaining frozen in Switzerland.
HEDA also urged the President to reject Malami’s advice to abandon the OPL 245 litigation, arguing that abandoning the suit would send a signal that companies are insulated from prosecution and likely to interrupt significant, but corruptly obtained money flows.
The OPL 245 suit has been a controversial issue in Nigeria, with allegations of corruption and fraud surrounding the licence award and subsequent exploitation of the oil field, but Malami has continued to urge Buhari and the Federal Government not to pursue the case any further.