A United Kingdom High Court yesterday ruled that a $1 billion bribery suit brought against oil giants Shell and Eni by the Nigerian government could not go ahead in England.
According to Premium Times, while referencing a report by Law360.com, the judge, Christopher Butcher, held that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the claim.
The suit was another of the many suits that had been springing out of the controversial Malabu Oil deal known as OPL 245.
Some Nigerian players involved in the deal, including a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), are facing different charges before different Nigerian courts.
For instance, the former AGF was early this year docked before an FCT High Court in Gwagwalada along with Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie and Malabu Oil and Gas, Nigeria Agip Exploration, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.
They were charged by the EFCC with alleged fraudulent activities in the $1.1b Malabu oil deal. Aside the ongoing cases in Nigeria, an Italian court has also ceased proceedings in relation to the OPL 245 deal.
In his written decision yesterday, the UK judge said the English case had both the same essential facts and parties as a parallel proceeding in Italy also brought by the Nigerian government over the Malabu deal.
Virtual hearings in the case reportedly took place last month, during which the companies argued to halt the $1 billion English suit as duplicating the ongoing criminal trial and parallel civil claim being brought by Nigeria in Italy over the controversial OPL 245.
When contacted, Dr. Umar Gwandu, the spokesman of the AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said, “The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has not been formally briefed by the solicitors assigned to conduct the matter.”