Nigeria has for the fifth time lost its case in the long-running OPL 245 court case in Italy. Yesterday, the Appeal Court in Milan, Italy, rejected the country’s request for $1.1 billion compensation from Shell and Eni, the two energy giants that bought the oil block off Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd in 2011.
The Nigerian government had alleged that there was corruption in the deal, leading to a number of criminal trials in Nigeria and Italy. The Milan Appeal Court rejected Nigeria’s civil claims and promised to make its reasons public within 90 days.
“We are pleased that these civil proceedings have been dismissed. This follows the Milan criminal tribunal’s finding that there was no case to answer for Shell or its former employees when they were fully acquitted in 2021, a decision that was upheld in July 2022, when criminal proceedings ended,” Shell said in an emailed comment to the Reuters news agency.
In the first case, in which the government of Nigeria joined as an injured party, the Court of Milan ruled in March 2021, after three years of criminal trial, that the prosecutors did not establish any proof of corruption, discharging and acquitting Shell, Eni and all the defendants.
The prosecutors subsequently filed an appeal but Celestina Gravina, the Italian attorney general, said the case “has no basis… in fact it should have finished earlier” and it was struck out in July, 2022.
In another case, the High Court of England and Wales ruled in July 2022 that Nigeria did not prove its allegations against Mohammed Bello Adoke, the former attorney-general of the federation, who was accused of corruption in the transaction. Nigeria had sued JP Morgan Bank for $1.7 billion for allegedly failing in its “duty of care” when it transferred the payments by Shell and ENI to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd between 2011 and 2013.
On Tuesday, Aliyu Abubakar, the property developer who was also on trial in Italy over the OPL 245 affair, told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that he was forced by EFCC to implicate former President Goodluck Jonathan and Adoke in money laundering in the same transaction. He said in December 2019, a statement was prepared for him to sign, failing which he was to be detained by the EFCC under the instructions of Ibrahim Magu, then chairman of the commission.