The House of Representatives’ Ad-hoc Committee probing the award of oil prospecting licence (OPL) 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas has invited ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to testify on the alleged diversion of $1 billion.
The committee headed by Rep. Rasak Atunwa, is investigating the alleged corruption, and breach of due process in the award of Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245.
In a statement on Wednesday, the committee said it has conducted a thorough investigation into the matter and it was important the former president testifies before bringing the investigation to a close.
“Mr Jonathan was the president at the material time the ministers brokered the deal that led to the allegation of $1bn diversion of funds,” the statement read.
“Mr Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the public prosecutor of Milan in Italy.
“A UK court judgment in relation to an application to return part of the money being restrained, castigated the Jonathan administration as not having acted in the best interest of Nigeria in relation to the ‘deal’.
“Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the constitution, the committee has decided to request that former President Goodluck Jonathan gives evidence as to his role in the matter.
“The proper thing is that the committee has taken a decision that he must give evidence,” he said.
“Section 89 of the constitution requires that we ask for the evidence; we’ve asked him for evidence and he must give evidence, we have asked him to give his response and submission.
“A matter entirely for him is, he may desire to send us a written submission, and we consider every written submission. We take it one step at a time.
“The normal proceeding for a committee hearing investigating such matter is to take a written submission and whatever comes out of that will have to be decided at the committee level.’’
Atunwa, chairman of the committee had in April said the lawmakers were considering inviting Jonathan to assist in their inquiries.
The OPL 245 was awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas against all known government regulations in 1998 by late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.
The withdrew the title and allocation of the oil bloc to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd on the directive of then Presidential Adviser on Petroleum to President Olusegun Obasanjo, after which it was re-allocated to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd without a public bid.
Though Malabu sued the Federal Government over the revocation, the matter was subsequently settled out of court and the said oil well returned to the plaintiff.
It was alleged that Shell and Eni again went into a fraudulent agreement with Malabu Oil and Gas in which the companies will pay signature bonus of $210m to government, while the sum of $1.2bn would be paid to the owners of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd.
A year later, the $1.3 billion deal was struck, with Malabu getting $1.1 billion from Shell and Eni to its transfer ownership, while the signature bonus was paid to Nigeria.
It was reported that Mr. Jonathan might have received up to $200 million in bribes to approve the controversial deal.
Jonathan has since denied the allegation that he benefited from the deal.