The delay in the circulation of the report of the ad hoc committee on the transaction involving the federal government, Shell, Agip and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in respect of Oil Block OPL 245 yesterday stalled its consideration.
Had the process sailed through without the problem that arose, Muhammad Abacha, son of the late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha and Kweku Amafegha, perhaps standing in for a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Dan Etete, as well as Pecos Energy Limited, would have been beneficiaries of the committee’s work.
This was delayed, perhaps till today, because some members of the House of Representatives took exception to the tardiness in the provision of the report to them hours ahead of the plenary session as the tradition demands, thus resulting in the abrupt halting of the proceedings.
The Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over the committee of the whole, postponed the consideration of the report, after some of the lawmakers including Robinson Uwak, raised a point of order, arguing that there was no reason to embark on the exercise of considering the report when many of his colleagues were yet to be given copies of the 70-page document in advance. He pointed out that it negated the House standard operating practice.
Another lawmaker, Betty Apiafi, insisted that accommodating the recommendations of the committee without availing members of its content could polarise the House and even discredit it.
Nonetheless, Ihedioha ruled Uwak out of order momentarily, stalling proceedings, a situation which left other members wondering what was happening.
Ihedioha invoked his authority over Uwak by banging the gavel, thus stopping further deliberation on the issue.
If the matter had been thrashed out and consensus reached, Abacha or his successors in title would have become owners of half of the Malabu Oil and Gas, while Amafegha or his successors in title, would have been entitled to 30 per cent and the remaining 20 per cent would have gone to Pecos Energy Limited.
According to the report, which was listed on the order paper yesterday, the federal government was told to rescind its decision on the granting of OPL 245 to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO) (50 per cent) and AGIP (50 per cent), saying such grant was premised on highly flawed ‘Resolution Agreement’ entered into between Malabu Oil and Gas, SNEPCO and Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) with the federal government acting as obligor.
“The ‘Resolution Agreement’ ceded away our national interest and further committed Nigeria to some unacceptable indemnities and liabilities, while acting as an obligor. Indeed, clause 17 of the resolution agreement commits the federal government of Nigeria to indemnify, and even defend Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD), SNEPCO and NAE from and against “all suits, proceedings, claims, demands, losses and liability of any nature or kind, including but not limited to all litigation costs, attorney’s fees, settlement payments, damages and all other related costs and expenses, based on, arising out of or in connection with” the ‘Resolution Agreement’ and or the issuance of the Oil Prospecting License in respect of Block 245.”
The order paper read in part: “That the federal government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) facilitates a new ‘Resolution Agreement’ in line with the Petroleum Act, and the Indigenous Concession Programme (ICP) of Government that guided the initial allocation of OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas, as a situation where the ‘Resolution Agreement’ diverted 100 per cent of the beneficial ownership to two foreign based companies is contrary to our national aspirations. Indeed the ‘Resolution Agreement’ should acknowledge Nigeria’ s National interest in the huge deposits existing in the block.
“That the House should direct the Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Gas Resources- and Local Content to liaise with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to make available a comprehensive list of similar ventures with Petroleum Sharing Agreement or contract without the Nigeria in National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) participation, for necessary remediation;
“That the AGIP Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (NAE) be formally censured or reprimanded by the House for its role in the ‘Resolution Agreement’ which Tacked transparency and did not meet international best business–practices. The ‘Resolution Agreement’ was meant to resolve existing disputes between the various parties, which even by AGIP’s acknowledgment they are not party to the disputes, in the process, they cornered 50 per cent equity in Block 245;
“That Shell Nigeria Ultra Deeps (SNUD) be censured or reprimanded by the House for its lack of transparency and full disclosure in its bid to acquire OPL 245;
The report urged the Office of the AGF, the Ministry of Petroleum
Resources and the Ministry of Finance to be guided by its recommendations and findings “in any dealings with respect to OPL 245.”
It also admonished the Nigerian Police Force and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) initiate investigation and prosecute any person found wanting.