TheCable reports that it has seen documents which show the involvement of Obasanjo, who has denied any involvement in the deal.
Obasanjo had even warned a former Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke to stop mentioning his name in the controversial Malabu Oil deal.
“Adoke and others should not drag me into a matter I know nothing about. If they have been asked to answer questions over decisions they took while in office, they should do that honourably,” Obasanjo said in THEWILL report posted Monday.
“They should not bring Obasanjo into an Etete deal. I was not part of any such deal.
“If I hold that view, I could not have approved a deal with Dan Etete. What Etete did is the height of corruption. He appropriated the asset to himself illegally, illegitimately and immorally.
“I can’t remember giving approval that the block be given back to Etete. We gave it back to Malabu? On what ground? Do you have any such evidence?
“Ask Bayo Ojo and Edmund Daukoru what really happened because the stand I took at the time was unassailable. If Daukoru has evidence that I approved that the block be given back to Malabu or Etete, let him produce it.
“If it is proven that I indeed approved the deal, I will be willing to apologise to Nigerians. But we have to get to the bottom of it all.”
However, documents published by the news website showed agreements between Malabu and the government of Obasanjo.
In a letter dated December 2, 2006, addressed to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and Etete, Edmund Daukoru, who served Obasanjo as minister of state for petroleum resources, conveyed an approval of Obasanjo regarding the deal.
The letter titled: ‘Malabu Oil and Gas Limited – out-of-court settlement in respect to OPL 245′, read: “We are delighted to convey that the president of the federal republic of Nigeria and commander-in-chief of the armed forces having concluded a review of your legal claims for the return of the oil block 245 has graciously approved and directed as follows.
“Malabu Oil and Gas Limited shall be at liberty to exercise all rights incidental to and consequent upon the return of the oil block to it and shall be free to assign, pledge or deal in any way with its restored rights in OPL 245, in whole or in part to any 3rd party subject as always to the operative laws of Nigeria including but not limited to obtaining all approvals permit and appropriate consents necessary.”
Before the out-of-court settlement, a document dated November 3, 2006, revealed that Daukoru brokered a similar settlement agreement with Malabu on behalf of the federal government.
In the deal finally consummated in 2011, only $210 million of the $1.3 billion paid by Shell and Eni for the block went into federal government coffers as “signature bonus”.
The rest was paid to Malabu Oil and Gas, mainly owned by Dan Etete, who, as petroleum minister in 1998, had awarded the lucrative licence to himself.
The sale to Malabu was nullified by Obasanjo in 1999 and assigned to Shell — without a public bid.
Ownership was suspiciously reverted to Malabu thereafter, leading to legal action by Shell who later resorted to negotiating directly with Etete after President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office in 2010.
A year later, the $1.3 billion deal was struck, with Malabu getting $1.1 billion from Shell and Eni to its transfer ownership, while the signature bonus was paid to Nigeria.