Abubakar Malami

A federal high court sitting in Lagos has granted the Human and Environment Development Agenda (HEDA), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), a leave for a judicial review against Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the Federation (AGF) in the Malabu oil deal.

HEDA had on April 5, filed an ex-parte motion before the court, seeking for an order compelling the AGF 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”.

The group alleged that the licence was obtained via corrupt practices.

In a report of the ruling issued by Olanrewaju Suraju, HEDA chairman, 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 sale of the controversial block in 2011 has unfurled a chain of scandals and litigation, leading to an unprecedented approval by an Italian court for the prosecution of Shell and Eni executives over allegations of bribery.

Milan prosecutors alleged bribes were paid to win the license to explore the field which has never entered into production.

HEDA, however, said it confirmed from the minister of petroleum resources that the government is still having some dealings with Eni and Shell, and also making arrangements to go into a joint venture with them

“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,” Suraju said.

“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 ex parte seeking the leave of the court to file for judicial review in the form of a mandamus against the respondent.

“The applicant has filed the instant ex-parte motion application seeking the following reliefs: AN ORDER of the Honourable court granting leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review in order to seek an order of mandamus directing and or compelling the respondent to revoke the Operating Production License (OPL) 245 on grounds that the entire Malabu transaction in relation to the OPL 245 was unconstitutional, illegal and void as it was not legally granted, same having been obtained fraudulently vide corrupt practices.

Speaking after the hearing , R.A.O Adegoke, counsel to HEDA said: “On this issue, HEDA will continue to keep members of the general public as well as the media abreast of development on the case.”

The case was adjourned till October 4 for hearing of the application for rejoinder by interested parties.

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