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Graft war: Nigeria may lose $5.6bn over OPL 245 scam, HEDA warns

…urges FG not to succumb to IOCs, corrupt politicians

Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has charged the Federal Government to properly pursue the case of the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245, Nigeria’s largest oil field, where Nigeria was said to have been deprived of $5.6bn. This is as the organisation warned that the OPL 245 if not properly handled could become another P&ID scam in Nigeria. HEDA, while presenting a joint research and policy brief on corrupt practices in Nigeria’s Oil industry: OPL 245 as a case study; urged the Federal Government not to succumb to what it called the seeming “bullying” by the international oil companies (IOCs) involved in the multibillion dollars OPL245 scam. Presenting the report in Lagos, Chairman of HEDA, Olanrewaju Suraju, stressed the need for the government to expedite the processes of inLvestigation of parties involved in the OPL245 scam to logical conclusion. This, he stated, would facilitate prosecution and recovery of assets due to Nigeria. The report said: “Completion of investigation and prosecution of cases in respect of OPL 245 has become desirable in demonstration of Nigerian government’s resolve to reposition the Nigerian oil sector.” Other recommendations in the report include the extradition of persons already indicted in ongoing court cases to enable them to answer to corruption charges; commitment of government to revocation of OPL245, in addition to ensuring proper inventories of assets connected thereto that may be required forfeited; thorough evaluation of existing OPLs with a view to ascertaining likelihood of irregularities that may require remedies. Suraju stated that Nigeria should be wary of the recent decision of Eni, the Italian oil multinational, to initiate a legal challenge against Nigeria for allegedly refusing “to abide by its obligations to Eni to convert OPL 245 to an oil mining license.” He noted that this was how the P&ID case started which now became an albatross to Nigeria. He said: “P&ID was given by a very small brief case company which approached the arbitration panel and court to have the gas conversion and production contract which was actually an illegitimate one. “Because many of the IOCs have the power, they have the resources, they can hire the best of international lawyers and arbitrators to be on their side realising that many of the developing countries like Nigeria, we don’t take some of these issues serious until when it gets to where P&ID got to.

 

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