The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC), a coalition of several civil rights groups across the country, says sleaze promoters within and outside the Nigerian government circle are desperate to cover up the dirty tracks associated with the OPL 245 saga, popularly referred to as the Malabu oil scandal.
The Malabu scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by Shell and ENI through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete.
From accounts controlled by Etete, about half the money ($520 million) went to accounts of companies controlled by Aliyu Abubakar, popularly known in Nigeria as a businessman and the owner of AA Oil.
Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect he fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration as well as officials of Shell and ENI.
The transaction was authorised in 2011 by ex-president Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers and the money was payment for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks.
The oil resources of the OPL 245 license have remained undeveloped since the controversies began.
In a statement obtained by SaharaReporters, NHRC said associates of crooks linked to the scam are networking to employ dirty tricks to blackmail the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) to stop the global campaign against one of the world’s greatest crimes.
“The twist of fate in the OPL 245 is an embarrassment to the international community. Former Minister of Petroleum Resources is being defended by former Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke. This is curious. In the course of the defence, the former government officials appear to be desperate to employ state institutions to scuttle the horrendous crime associated with OPL 245 which is in billions of dollars of public funds stolen by top Nigerian officials in collaboration with international rogue cartels,” the statement signed by Taiwo Adekunle, on behalf of the NHRC, said.
The group said HEDA and its officials including the Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju have made significant efforts in exposing corruption in the OPL 245, adding that no amount of blackmail and shameful propaganda will erase the footprints of the anti-corruption group in exposing graft in high places.
NHRC praises HEDA for its consistency and sacrifices for millions of Nigerians who are deeply impressed by the group’s milestones in the anti-corruption advocacy.
It said HEDA has already fulfilled historical obligations by exposing the irresponsible episode of graft that characterise the oil sector in Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC) is solidly behind HEDA and its Chairman, Mr Suraju. What we are witnessing is a campaign of calumny being waged hands-in-gloves with some media practitioners with the sole aim of shifting public attention from the crux of the matter which is the stealing of billions of dollars associated with the OPL license. They have left the substance to chase shadows,” the coalition said.
The group said it makes little sense for Adoke to be talking of a forged email when the controversial email was never denied by the crooks associated with it during the trial in Milan, Italy.
It added that the criminals linked to the crime are exploiting Nigeria’s weak judiciary and democratic structures to turn the complainant to the accused.
“It’s like a man caught stealing goats in a community who comes up with the defence that his name was not spelt correctly or that his prosecutors should establish the route through which he came to the village to steal the goats even when the stolen goats were found in his homestead, insisting that on that basis the whistle-blower should be jailed,” the NHRC said.
The group urged the police and a section of the media being mobilised for the campaign to realise their action is akin to fuelling corruption, which is tantamount to watering the breeding ground for violence and instability in the country.