Spokesman for the Nigerian National Assembly, Eyinnaya Abaribe, has said the Senate will not be investigating the $1.1 billion oil block scandal, involving top Presidential aides, two foreign oil companies and Malabu Oil, a company owned by former Petroleum minister and convicted fraudster, Dan Etete.
In an interview with online news publication, Premium Times, Abaribe said the Senate could not launch an investigation based only on news media reports.
“This thing has never come up. There is no such investigation anywhere. Do we just wake up and start to do our work based on reports in the newspapers?” the senator queried.
Mr. Abaribe explained that the National Assembly could only act if a formal petition is brought to the Senate and debated on the floor, the Committee on upstream petroleum, will not investigate the details.
“If you have any documentation, make a formal complaint. It is on that basis that the senate will debate it,” he said.
House of Reps not reluctant
While the Senate is reluctant to dig further into the shocking allegations of a billion dollar dirty deal, involving the very top echelon of government, including President Goodluck Jonathan himself, the House of Representatives has said it will not shy away.
Deputy spokesman of the House of Representatives, Victor Ogene, assured that when the matter is brought to the floor, the House “will not shy away from any case of malfeasance”.
Ogene said he had taken interest in the reports and speculated that other members of the House “may be doing their own discreet investigation,” before presenting the case to the floor of the House.
The media has been abuzz with reports of the underhanded sale of the disputed oil block, OPL 245. A recent report from Global Witness, an anti-corruption NGO based in the US, stated that documents presented before a New York court revealed that both Royal Dutch Shell and Nigeria Agip Exploration had paid the Federal Government of Nigeria $1.092 billion in order to secure the rights to OPL 245.
At about the same time, payments in the same amount were made to Malabu oil, owned by Etete who had awarded himself the oil block during his tenure as petroleum minister under late head of state, General Sani Abacha.
Further investigations by the Premium Times showed the scandal also involved Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and the Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, both of whom transferred the funds to Malabu before Ngozi Okonjo Iweala began her term as Finance Minister.
The accusations that have filled press pages and inundated news websites have been met by a deafening wall of silence from the Federal Government and the Presidency and spokespersons to the involved government officials.
Civil society groups have criticized the President’s refusal to address the corruption and their role in it, even as lawmakers are reluctant to hold the government accountable.