27 November 2018

An Italian court is examining charges of corruption against international energy giants Eni and Shell in a controversial oil deal that led to Nigeria losing an estimated $6bn. The leaked emails and confidential documents showed that the oil giants might have used unethical means to secure the deal as they altered earlier terms on the oil block known as Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 to make huge profits, while Nigerian state lost $6bn. Two weeks before the deal was signed in 2011, Andrew Obaje, then Director of Department of Petroleum Resources advised the Federal Government not to accept the deal because it was bad. Despite this advice, the Federal Government went ahead to approve the deal that stripped it of earlier favourable terms. Oil giants paid $1bn which went into the pockets of the top leaders and nothing went to the state.

The scandal, which is unfolding in the Italian court, has involved former MI6 officers, the FBI, a former President of Nigeria, as well as current and former senior executives at the two oil companies.

The presidents, governors and ministers have systematically plundered the oil revenues for several decades. A court in France found the former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete, guilty of money laundering. It is also claimed he had five tons of cash in $100 bills.

The campaign group Global Witness has spent years investigating the deal which gave Shell and Eni the rights to explore OPL 245. It engaged Resources for Development Consulting to analyse the contract. Global Witness was supported by the NGOs HEDA, RE:Common and The Corner.

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