Mohammed Abacha has admitted before the FCT high court sitting on Thursday 4 November, that he used a different name to register Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, the company that was awarded the controversial OPL 245 in 1998.
The name, ‘Mohammed Sani’ originally had 50 percent in the company, with ‘Kweku Amafegha,’ a pseudonym for Dan Etete, who was minister of petroleum at the time, owning 30 percent; and Wabi Hassan, the wife of Hassan Adamu, Nigeria’s then-ambassador to the US, was credited with 20 percent.
Mohammed’s father, Sani Abacha, was the Nigerian head of state at the time Malabu got the oil block.
President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration revoked the allocation in 2001 but after a legal tussle, agreed to return it to Malabu.
Adoke, who is the first defendant, previously alleged that the Abacha family was using the EFCC to persecute him because they believed he did not allow them to profit from the OPL 245 sale.
EFCC denied the allegation at the time but has now presented Abacha as the prosecution witness in the case of alleged fraud filed against Adoke, the former AGF; Aliyu Abubakar, a businessman; and Rasky Gbinigie, company secretary of Malabu.
Also on trial are Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (Eni), Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.
At the hearing on Thursday, Bala Sanga, the EFCC prosecutor, presented Mohammed as the only witness he brought to the court before Justice Abubakar Kutigi, TrackNews Online reports.
Mohammed introduced himself as a businessman and testified to knowing defendants in the suit.
He said: ”1st defendant (Adoke) was company secretary of Kabo Airlines. He is the former attorney-general of the federation. I paid him a courtesy visit when he became AGF and informed him of my problems with OPL 245 and Malabu Oil and Gas. He asked me to officially write him and indicate all the issues and problems I had. I did and submitted it in 2010.”
When asked on what basis he was appearing in court, Mohammed said: ”Based on being a member and shareholder of Malabu Oil and Gas which was incorporated in 1998 to seek allocation of oil prospecting license with the petroleum ministry. OPL 214 and 245 were subsequently granted to Malabu.
”At the time of granting the licenses, the shareholders were Mohammed Sani, 10 million shares; Kweku Amafegha, six million shares; and Wabi Hassan, four million shares; Kweku was a pseudonym of Chief Dan Etete and Hassan was a pseudonym of Hassan Adamu (Wakilin Adamawa).”
Speaking on being aware of irregularities in company documents, he stated: ” After the death of my father (in 1998), I was handed some documents and I was made aware of alterations and changes in Malabu. Subsequently, I gave the power of attorney to late AVM Mukhtar Babagana to kindly oversee the affairs of Malabu.
”He traveled to London to see Chief Dan Etete who had fled the country then. It became impossible for him to see him (Etete). Subsequently, I sought the help of my lawyer, Abubakar Malami (the current attorney-general of the federation), to go to CAC and conduct a search.
”After some time, with no luck and response, I got R. O Atabo to conduct a search at CAC and it was discovered that several alterations had already been done in June 1998 and November 1998 where my name was totally removed and other changes in 2000 where shares were altered and converted and my name no longer appeared. That was when the other company, Petros Energy Limited, was introduced which is controlled by Chief Oyewole Fasawe.”
Claiming he didn’t authorize or attend meetings to change his name, Mohammed told the court steps he took after discovering the alterations: ”The first step was to file a suit at FHC, Abuja, seeking the court to assert my ownership of the 10 million shares in Malabu.
”Then I asked my lawyers in London to write Shell and ENI Agip cautioning them against entering any agreement, JV of sorts, with Malabu and I intimated them of being a director and shareholder.
”It was a caveat to Shell and Agip. I got R. O. Atabo to write a letter to the Netherlands and Italian embassy, the home embassies of Shell and Agip, to pass the information that the oil companies should not participate in any relationship with Malabu.
”Finally, I asked Atabo to publish in two newspapers cautioning anyone and forbidding anyone from entering into any negotiations, event, or partnership with Malabu. Unfortunately, all fell on deaf ears.
”The lawyer that falsified [the documents] went to CAC to make changes in Form Co2. I got Atabo to write a petition which was duly received and CAC responded, guiding and directing that they had forwarded a letter to the EFCC seeking them to investigate and prosecute the issues raised.”
When asked if he was aware of any details of the disposal of OPL 245 and the proceeds, he said: ”While my case was pending in FHC, Chief Dan Etete and his cohorts had sold Malabu’s oil block to Shell and ENI Agip. Unfortunately, the proceeds were paid without my knowledge, approval, and consent as a shareholder.”
The first defendant’s counsel, identified as Paul Erokoro also cross-examined Mohammed on the issue of the names he claimed to have been identified by.
During the cross-examination, Mohammed claimed he was identified by both ‘Mohammed Sani and Mohammed Sani Abacha,’ with the name Mohammed Sani Abacha currently on his international passport.
When asked if he had any other document with the name on his international passport, he gave a negative response, saying he ”If I was prepared, I would have brought them with me.”
Erokoro further asked that Mohammed who claims to be the original shareholder of Malabu should present original incorporation documents to the court. But Mohammed claimed that they were in the custody of the EFCC.
After the cross-examination by other defense lawyers, the judge adjourned till January 26, 2022, for further hearing.
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