Former President Godluck Jonathan yesterday denied collecting $466m kickback in the fraud-fraught $1.3 billion OPL 245 Malabu oil deal involving oil giants Shell and ENI. A report by French News Agency AFP on Monday quoted Italian prosecutors as naming the former president and his Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke,
among those who collected the bribe after the former president met with top officials of the oil companies. The report quoted the prosecutors as alleging in documents filed by Italian prosecutors last December in Milan, that Jonathan met with Chief Executive of ENI, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni, to discuss the deal. The prosecutors alleged that Jonathan and Mrs Alison-Madueke benefited from $466m converted into naira and used to buy property, aircraft and others.
The Italian prosecutors alleged that ENI and Shell executives worked with former Petroleum Minister Dan Etete to strike the deal. The oil companies have denied the allegations. In a statement by his Media Adviser Ikechukwu Eze, Dr. Jonathan denied it all. He said: “We wish to make it clear that former President Jonathan was not accused, indicted or charged for corruptly collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over. “In the first place, we have to categorically state that the negotiations and transactions for the oil block deal predate the presidency of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which began on 6th May 2010 and ended on 29th May 2015. “It may interest those promoting this false narrative to know that all the documents relating to the transactions, issues and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabo issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice.
“As President of Nigeria, there is no doubt that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan met with executives of all the oil majors operating in Nigeria and urged them to, amongst other things, support the growth of the Nigerian oil industry by ramping up their investments and comply with the Local Content Act that he promoted and signed into law. “We however wish to state, for emphasis, that at no time did the former President hold private meetings with representatives of ENI to discuss pecuniary issues. All the meetings and discussions former President Jonathan had with ENI, other IOCs and some indigenous operators were conducted officially, and in the presence of relevant Nigerian Government officials and were done in the best interest of the country. “We make bold to point out that the former President never sent any Abubakar Aliyu, as the innuendoes in the false report suggest, to ENI, the IOCs or any indigenous operator to seek favour or collect any gratification on his behalf.
“We will like to point out for the umpteenth time that whether in office or out of office, former President Jonathan does not own any bank account, aircraft or real estate outside Nigeria. Anyone with contrary information is challenged to publicly publish same. “As the President who signed the Freedom of Information Act into law, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan lifted the veil on governance and encouraged transparency, knowing that evil breeds in secrecy. It is the opinion of the former President that journalists and media houses should take advantage of this law in their investigative journalism, rather than rely on hearsay.”