Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, denied media reports that he received bribes in the $1.3billion Oil Prospecting Licence, OPL 245 oil block deal involving Italian oil company, ENI and Royal Dutch Shell of the Netherlands.
According to reports, Italian prosecutors had, in court documents filed last month in Milan, claimed that ENI Chief Executive, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo Scaroni, met Dr. Jonathan personally to discuss the deal. They further alleged that Dr. Jonathan and former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, benefited from the $466 million allegedly used to bribe some Nigerian government officials and another $54 million withdrawn by one Abubakar Aliyu, who the prosecutors claimed was Jonathan’s agent.
However, in a statement by Ikechukwu Eze, his media adviser, Dr Jonathan said he did not receive any kick-back or know any Abubakar Aliyu and insisted that his hands are clean over the Malabu deal.
This came as the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, IYC, decried what it described as the sustained persecution of Ijaw people and the Niger-Delta by the present administration and wondered why the Malabu oil deal had been singled out for probe while other oil blocks awarded at the same time and through the same process were left untouched.
The Jonathan statement read: ‘’Our attention has been drawn to news reports published mostly by online media, which suggested, through innuendo, rather than factual evidence, that former President Goodluck Jonathan received kickbacks in the $1.3bn OPL 245 oil block deal involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.
‘’With regards to the publication, 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 bloc deal pre-date the Presidency of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, which began on May 6, 2010 and ended on May 29, 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 Malabu 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, among 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. We hope that these clarifications will help guide future reports which should be factual.’’