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Abacha Family Dismisses FG’s Claim Of Resolving $1.3 Billion OML 245 Court Cases

Daud Olatunji

The family of the late Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, has  dismissed the Federal Government’s recent claim that all legal disputes surrounding the ownership of Malabu Oil and Gas, and particularly the Oil Mining License (OML 245), have been resolved.

In a pointed rebuttal, the Abacha family has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, demanding a retraction of his statement made at a public function in Abuja.

 The family’s legal representative, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Reuben Okpanachi Atabo, disclosed the  demand in a protest letter delivered to both the Attorney General of the Federation and the Oil Minister’s offices on July 5.

Lokpobiri, during the opening session of the “Nigerian Oil and Gas Energy Week,” had announced that ongoing negotiations to end the disputes over OML 245 had concluded.

 He stated, “I am happy to announce to you that we have resolved all the issues. 

“We should be expecting investments in tens of billions of dollars to create an atmosphere where we become globally competitive.”

However, the Abacha family, through their lawyer, asserted that this claim was “false, spurious, unfounded and an affront to the courts” where several cases on the ownership of Malabu Oil and Gas are still pending. 

The family’s protest letter highlighted that the remarks were misleading and disrespected the judicial process, given the ongoing litigation.

The controversy over OML 245, a valuable deepwater oil block in the southern Niger Delta, dates back to 2001 when the Federal Government under former President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked Malabu’s license. 

Malabu Oil and Gas, founded by Alhaji Mohammed Sani, Kweku Amafagha, and Hassan Hindu in 1998, challenged the revocation in court. 

The matter was temporarily settled out-of-court in 2006 under President Umaru Yar’Adua’s administration.

The dispute re-ignited in 2011 when Shell and Eni acquired OML 245 from Malabu for $1.3 billion in a deal approved by the Nigerian government. 

The Abacha family claims this transaction occurred without their knowledge and has  since been involved in various legal battles to reclaim ownership.

The protest letter stressed  that the family was not represented in the 2011 resolution agreements between the Nigerian government, Shell, and Agip. 

It also pointed out ongoing criminal charges maintained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against some individuals in connection with the sale of OML 245.

The letter from the family’s lawyer read, “From the foregoing, it is evident that the remarks made by your esteemed self during the opening session of the Nigerian Energy Week are not only misleading but bereft of the factual situation on the ground. 

Furthermore, the said remarks are an affront to the authority of our Courts, having regard to the fact that the matter is sub judice before various courts in Nigeria.”

The letter concluded by stating that the family would take legal action against the Minister if he failed to retract his statement within 14 days. 

“Take notice therefore that we are by this letter demanding that your esteemed self, issue a statement retracting your remarks made during the opening session of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Energy Week… failure of which we shall take an action against you in a competent Court of Law without further recourse to our Clients,” it read.

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