A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted the request of Human and Environment Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, a non-governmental organization, for an order of mandamus for a judicial review against the Attorney General of the Federation in the Malabu Oil Deal Case.
HEDA had on April 5, 2018 filed a motion ex parte before the Federal High Court seeking an order compelling the Attorney General of the Federation to revoke the Operating Production License (OPL) 245 on grounds that the entire Malabu transaction in relation to the OPL 245 is unconstitutional, illegal and void, as it was not legally granted, same having been obtained fraudulently via corrupt practices.
The application by the resource centre is in accordance with the provisions of ‘Orders 34 Rules 1(1)A, 2, 3(1) & (2)A, (B) & (C) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009 Section 1(1), (2), 2 (7), (3), (4)A & 20 of the Freedom Of Information Act, And Section 15 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and under the Inherent Powers Of The Federal High Court, Ikoyi'.
In a report of the ruling of the court issued by HEDA and signed by its chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the NGO said it instituted the law suit to expose the players in the notorious Malabu scandal in which extant local laws and policies were breached and blatantly ignored.
The Malabu case involves the 2011 purchase by Eni and Shell of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oilfield, reputed as one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks, for about $1.3 billion by Shell and ENI. Italian prosecutors had earlier indicted Shell and ENI for their role in the 2011 deal in which Malabu sold the lucrative oil block to the two oil majors.
The centre said having confirmed from the response of the Minister of Petroleum Resources that the government was still having some dealings with the said Eni/Shell and also making arrangements to go into a joint venture with it, "the applicant (Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre) responded and reiterated the need to halt and suspend all thorough-going relationships with the said Eni/Shell pending the outcome of the investigations and suits in several jurisdictions with respect to the Malabu deal."
According to HEDA, Justice M.S Hassan of the Federal High Court, (Court 11) in Ikoyi, Lagos on June 13, 2018, granted the leave for the Applicant as Mr. R.A.O Adegoke who also appeared with Mrs. Fatima Usman, representing the Incorporated Trustees of HEDA Resource Centre.
It said: "Before granting the motion to file an application for judicial review as prayed in the Motion Exparte moved by the Applicant's the presence of new interested parties in the case were announced in Court. These parties included Mr. Babatunde Fagbohun (SAN) and two others who announced their appearance for Nigeria AGIP Exploration Limited as an interested party and Dr. C.O Ukata, appearing with Ehimony Oluyori representing Shell Exploration Production as an intervening party
Olanrewaju said the application was made with a view to enabling HEDA carry out its mandate of fighting corrupt and fraudulent practices involving public institutions, public office holders and their conspiring multinational corporations. He said this action is part of the organisation's broad stolen asset recovery project.
"The two interested parties representing Shell Exploration Production Ltd and Nigeria-AGIP Exploration Ltd respectively announced appearance in court and promised to file necessary process before next adjourned date. "The Applicant’s Counsel, Mr. Adegoke having confirmed service on the respondents; the Attorney General of Federation, moved a Motion Exparte seeking the leave of the court to file for judicial review in the form of a mandamus against the respondent," he said.