Some civil society organisations have raised the alarm over what it describes as an orchestrated plot to thwart corruption charges against oil giants associated with OPL 245 scam in Nigeria.
In a statement on Sunday signed by Antonio Tricario for Re-Common, Nicholas Hidyard for Cornerhouse, Simon Taylor for Global Witness and Olanrewaju Suraju for HEDA, the CSOs asked the Nigerian media to protect public interest by ensuring professional ethics is adhered to when reporting the scam associated with OPL245.
It accused a section of the media of being partisan, providing inaccurate and misleading commentary aimed at influencing the outcome of a trial before it has run its full course.
It reads in part, "The OPL 245 is one of Africa's richest oil fields handed over to an obscure company, Malabu Oil, that had only few days earlier registered in 1998 under the military regime of late Gen Sani Abacha.
"It later witnessed a string of dirty deals spanning 20 years. Italy’s Eni and Royal Dutch Shell currently face corruption charges in Italy in their various activities linked to the bid for the rich oil field.
"ThisDay’s article misleadingly focuses on a few minutes in one hearing nearly 18 months ago to allege that the prosecutor hid key facts relating to Mr Adoke’s mortgage. In fact, the prosecutor has been entirely candid. Evidence relating to mortgage repayments was included in the prosecutor’s file submitted to the court when the trial opened and additional evidence has been filed during the trial.
"They observed that most recently, on 29 October 2019, the prosecutor submitted extensive documentation received through a Mutual Legal Assistance request to Nigeria.
"It is our understanding that this included (inter alia) full details of money flows into and out of Mr Adoke’s account at Unity Bank, the internal Unity Bank documentation relating to the mortgage and property records relating to Plot no 3271 Cadastral Zone 06, Maitama, Abuja."
The group therefore criticised attempts to rubbish the progress achieved by the investigation launched by anti-graft agencies into the case.