$1.3bn Exxon Mobil/ Seplat Energy deal: I wasn’t consulted – Malami
...says Nigerian govt will follow the law on Ekweremadu
As the disputes over the acquisition of the Exxon Mobil shares by Seplat Energy limited continues, Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Thursday, said he is yet to be consulted over the stalled deal.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday approved the deal that allowed Seplat Energy to acquire the shares.
The President while consenting to the acquisition of Exxon Mobil shares in the United States of America by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited, said he acted in his approval In his capacity as “Minister of Petroleum Resources, and in consonance with the country’s drive for Foreign Direct Investment in the energy sector”
Exxon Mobil had entered into the landmark Sale and Purchase Agreement with Seplat Energy to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Mobil Development Nigeria Inc, and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc, both registered in Delaware, USA.
“Considering the extensive benefits of the transaction to the Nigerian Energy sector and the larger economy, President Buhari has given Ministerial Consent to the deal.
“The President, in commitment to investment drive in light of the Petroleum Industry Act, granted consent to the Share Sales Agreement, as requested by the parties to the transaction, and directed that the approval be conveyed to all the parties involved.
The Statement noted that “Exxon Mobil/Seplat are expected to carry out operatorship of all the oil mining licenses in the related shallow water assets towards production optimization to support Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the short term as well as ensure accelerated development and monetization of the gas resources in the assets for the Nigerian economy.
“President Buhari also directed that all environmental and abandonment liabilities be adequately mitigated by Exxon Mobil and Seplat.”
But following the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited objections to the transaction, the President was said to have retracted his earlier approval
Read also: Seplat Energy refutes media reports on withdrawal of ministerial consent
Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, confirmed that the President reversed his decision because the agencies involved have not “coordinated well among themselves.”
He revealed that the confusion over ExxonMobil shares was because “the various agencies involved in the decision had not coordinated well among themselves and having looked at all of the facts with all of the ramifications, the President decided the position of the regulator is to be supported”.
But Malami, while speaking at the regular Presidential briefing at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, said although such request for advice should come to him, he is however yet to be consulted.
“ Until such request comes my way, I will not be in a position to comment one way or the other as it relates to the alleged contentions and disputes relating to ExxonMobil,” he said.
“But then, if by any chance, such a request is made, I will certainly perhaps maybe consider the possibility of engaging the press over it as it relates to my opinion.
“No opinion has been formed as it stands now by the Attorney General’s office.”
Malami who also spoke on the travails of former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, stated that although there has been in existence, mutual legal assistance, requests, and collaboration between Nigeria and other countries across the world, neither Ekweremadu nor the British government has approached his office on the issue.
He said: “So to this end, I want to state that we will address the request if such a request comes.
“I can remember very well. There was a request which was passed through my office and that was sealed information and meant for delivery to the Crime Agency in the UK at the instance of a distinguished Senator which requests I was not in a position to comment on because it was a simple transmission.
“An agency of government was asked to respond to certain inquiries they did, and under seal, they presented their result which was transmitted to the UK accordingly.
“So the application or what I’m trying to say in essence is, we have mutual legal assistance, understanding the UK, and that whichever the agency, either the senator as an accused or suspect or indeed the agencies in the UK, make any requests for international support. I respond accordingly.
“But as far as the interest of the federal government is concerned, this is not a matter over which we can develop any interest.”
Malami however assured that if the case of an allegation or breach of Child rights is referred “we may possibly consider looking at it from that perspective.
“ As you are actually aware, a number of Nigerians were before now convicted across the globe. Then, a number of foreigners are equally convicted in Nigeria over time. So it is about issues that affect crime if indeed, crime allegation is an issue.
“The jurisdiction determines what happens both in terms of request in terms of scope support, and not for the Nigerian government to simply because you have profile personality jump into the arena. It has never been the tradition of the Nigerian government to intervene in anything judicial, local or international. And that stands the concern of the government.”