Bimbola Oyesola It is no longer news that some states are owing workers backlog of salaries running into several months. But reflecting on the issue recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, without any apology, said anybody, in both the private or public sector, owing workers is committing a crime. The Minister, who…
By Doris Obinna
Trouble for former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is not over, as documents by United States prosecutors have unveiled shocking details of contract deals and gratifications.
Prosecutors of the United States Department of Justice last Friday released details of Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore’s alleged gratification to Mrs. Alison-Madueke for facilitating oil contracts, in a forfeiture case.
The former minister allegedly got four residential properties in and around London worth £11.45 million for the business favour done the two businessmen.
The US court documents revealed facts about the controversial Strategic Alliance Agreements and Oil Mining Leases.
It said: “Prior to 2010, NNPC participated in a joint venture with the subsidiary of a major international oil company (the “IOC Subsidiary”) for the development and production of oil and gas in connection with eight oil mining leases (“OMLs”). In particular, the joint venture held interests in and operated OMLs 26, 30, 34, and 42 (the “Forcados OMLs”) and OMLs 60, 61, 62, and 63 (the “Brass OMLs”).
“The IOC subsidiary owned 45 per cent of the joint venture, with the remainder owned by NNPC. In 2010, however, the IOC subsidiary chose to divest itself and sold its minority stake to various indigenous Nigerian entities.
“With the IOC subsidiary’s departure, NNPC became responsible for financing and operating the OMLs. It assigned this task—along with its 55 per cent majority stake—to its own operating subsidiary, NPDC. However, NPDC lacked the in-house technical expertise and the financial resources to fund and operate the OMLs. NPDC, therefore, sought to enter into Strategic Alliance Agreements to partner outside parties who could both finance and provide technical assistance for the operation of the OMLs on NPDC’s behalf.”
The court paper revealed that Alison-Madueke played a major role in the award of the Forcados SAAs (OMLs 26, 30, 34, and 42) to AEDC, which was incorporated in Nigeria in July 2010, three months after Diezani’s appointment as minister.
According to the court papers, “on or about March 8, 2011, AEDC first expressed its interest in entering into an SAA in a letter to NPDC. Less than three weeks later, on or about March 28, 2011, Aluko, acting on behalf of AEDC, attended a meeting with NPDC representatives to discuss a possible SAA award.
“Within another three weeks, on or about April 20, 2011, AEDC and NPDC entered into SAAs for OMLs 26 and 42. These SAAs were signed by Omokore on behalf of AEDC.
“Approximately one month later, on or about May 25, 2011, AEDC and NPDC entered into two more SAAs for OMLs 30 and 34. These SAAs were also signed by Omokore on behalf of AEDC.”
The court document revealed that NPDC’s award of the Forcados SAAs to AEDC was done “with the knowledge and support of Alison-Madueke and at her direction,” revealing: “A February 2014 report prepared by the then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria determined that AEDC ‘had neither the technical expertise nor the capital to develop the joint venture, but (was) none-the-less able to lift crude and retain the proceeds, . . . up to 70 per cent of the profit of the Joint Venture.’ The report concluded that the arrangement was set up ‘for the purpose of acquiring assets belonging to the (Federal Republic of Nigeria) and transferring the income to private hands.’”
The US court papers said AEDC’s failed to perform under the Forcados SAAs, as it did not, for instance, fulfill its requirement to fund training facilities for NPDC staff, leading to an outstanding obligation of approximately $5,600,000.
“Furthermore, AEDC failed to cover NPDC’s share of the Forcados operating costs. Upon information and belief, of the more than $1,400,000,000 required to finance such costs, AEDC made contributions of only approximately $305,108,522.43.
“Despite AEDC’s failure to fulfill its obligations under the Forcados SAAs, AEDC was, upon information and belief, allocated and permitted to lift and sell, for its own benefit, 21 cargoes of crude oil valued at approximately $677,238,673.”
As compensation for the favour of the award of the contract, the documents revealed, facilitators of AEDC purchased £11,530,000 building for Alison-Madueke.
It said: “Concurrent with the negotiations for and the award of the Forcados SAAs, Aluko and Omokore …purchased and refurbished several multi-million dollar properties in the London area for the benefit of Alison-Madueke and her family members. Aluko, Omokore …provided these properties for the purpose of inducing her to use her influence within the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the NNPC, and the NPDC to direct the award of business opportunities to entities under their control and beneficial ownership, including the award of the Forcados SAAs to AEDC.
It also revealed: “On or about January 27, 2011, i.e., less than two months before AEDC officially approached NPDC about the first of the Forcados SAAs, a Seychelles company … purchased a property known as “the Falls” for £3,250,000. The Falls is located just outside London at 96 Camp Road, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire SL9 7PB.”
The document stated that the company was beneficially owned by Omokore, adding: “ Aluko engaged a construction company (the “Construction Company”) to upgrade and maintain the plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, and audio-visual systems at the Falls.
“Finally, on or about October 8, 2013, Aluko used his American Express card to purchase two identical exercise machines at Harrods in London. The machines were purchased for £10,926 each. One was to be delivered to the known London address of Alison-Madueke; the other was to be delivered to the Falls.”
The US court papers also revealed that in March 2011, a British Virgin Islands company was used to purchase real property at 39 Chester Close North London, NW1 4JE (“39 Chester Close, North”) for £1,730,000, saying: “Aluko engaged the Construction Company to undertake extensive alterations and renovations at 39 Chester Close, North, including the installation of an elevator. An employee of the Construction Company (“Construction Company Employee #1”) has stated that the intended occupants of 39 Chester Close North, were Alison-Madueke’s mother and son.
“On or about March 28, 2011, a Seychelles company, was used to purchase real property at 58 Harley House, Marylebone Road, London NW1 5HL (“58 Harley House”) for £2,800,000.
“As with 39 Chester Close North, Aluko engaged the construction company to provide renovation services at 58 Harley House. On or about August 9, 2011, a second employee of the construction company (“Construction Company Employee #2”) forwarded by email to Aluko design plans for the kitchen at 58 Harley House. Aluko, subsequently, forwarded this email, including the design plans, to Alison-Madueke.”
It revealed that in March 2011, another Seychelles company was used to “purchase real property at Flat 5 Park View, 83-86 Prince Albert Road, London NW8 7RU (“Flat 5 Park View”) for £3,750,000. The purchase was financed, in part, by a loan obtained from FBN Bank (UK) Ltd,” adding: “The same real estate company used to purchase 39 Chester Close North, and 58 Harley House also assisted in the purchase of Flat 5 Park View.
“As with both 39 Chester Close North and 58 Harley House, Aluko engaged the construction company to perform significant renovations at Flat 5 Park View. Construction Company Employee #1 personally met Alison-Madueke at Flat 5 Park View, where she was present for a discussion of interior design plans.”