20 July 2012

Nigeria: Senate Probes N172 Billion Oil Well Scandal

SENATE has resolved to investigate the controversy generated by the sale of the $1.092 billion oil bloc OPL 245 involving Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and Shell/Agip.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi, though the Senate was initially divided on the committee to handle the probe.

While some of the Senators opted for the setting up of an ad hoc committee to carry out the investigation, others demanded that the probe be handled by a standing committee.

But Senate President, David Mark intervened in the argument warning that calls for an ad hoc committee probe was an indication of distrust for the Senate's standing committees.

He said: "Let me say that no Senate committee is under investigation, so any Senate committee can do the assignment. Any committee can do the job; I want to hear those who do not want this investigation to take place. Let us not give an impression that there is something that we don't want to touch. It will not be good."

Leading the debate on the motion, Ningi observed that the Senate was worried by recent media attention on the controversies surrounding a tripartite transaction involving the Federal Government, Shell/Agip and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

He said that the transactions referred to the oil bloc "OPL 245" to the effect that the Federal Government sold the bloc to Shell/Agip consortium in the sum of $1.092billion.

He added: "The media reports have raised legal and ethical issues surrounding the transaction and pattern of distribution of proceeds to the beneficiaries. If all these weighty allegations are ignored, Nigeria may be sanctioned by the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative(EITI) for violating a global initiative to which it is a signatory and our image will further be eroded locally and internationally."

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday confirmed Justices Kumai Bayang Akaahs and Stanley Shinko Alagoe as Justices of Supreme Court.

Justice Akaahs represent North-West zone at the Supreme Court while, Justice Alagoe will be representing South-South zone at the Supreme Court.

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