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Malabu: I Didn’t Ask for or Collect Bribes, Don’t Own Property, Account Outside Nigeria – Jonathan Replies FG

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Nigeria’s immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has responded to the Federal Governments allegation that he acted corruptly and may have received bribes in the ever brewing Malabu Oil scandal, saying such claims are “recycled falsehood that is blatantly dishonest, cheap, and predictable.”

In the statement released by the former President’s aide, Ikechukwu Eze Saturday evening, Jonathan stated that although there is nothing new in the “fabricated bribery claim” which he had debunked in the past, he will continue to restate the facts.

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan did not ask for or collect any bribes, neither has he been charged for asking or collecting bribes, neither will he ever be charged with asking for or collecting bribes, because such never happened,” the statement read in part.

He argued that this particular dispute predated the Jonathan administration and survives it, adding that Mr Jonathan is a 61-year-old who, throughout his life, has never opened an account, nor owned property outside Nigeria.

“The fact remains that as recent national events continue to vindicate former President Jonathan, and as the world continues to celebrate him, those who are insecure will feed such propaganda to their media agents to feed their inferiority complex,” the statement said.

“In fact, we expected something like this ever since it was announced that former President Jonathan would lead the Election Observation Mission of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa to South Africa’s national and provincial elections.

“We are well aware that this claim was intentioned to eclipse the goodwill and positive reports of former President Jonathan’s diligent engagement in South Africa’s national and provisional elections.

“The fact that most major media houses in the country refused to republish this falsehood bears out our conviction that Nigerians can no longer be deceived by hollow and diversionary claims of corruption, in the face of worsening state of affairs in the country.”

Mr Eze said that beyond the “wave of conjecture”, former President Jonathan was not linked, indicted or charged for collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.

Rather than reacting specifically to why Mr Jonathan authorised his ministers to sign the deal and transfer such funds to an ex-convict, Mr Etete, Mr Eze said: “It bears repeating that the documents relating to the transactions and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabu issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the relevant government offices, where they are accessible.

“We would like to point out that all the actions taken by the Jonathan administration in relation to activities in the oil industry were legally conducted by relevant Nigerian government officials and were carried out in the best interest of the country.

“Finally, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we will like to point out that whether in office or out of office, former President Jonathan still does not own any bank account, business or real estate outside Nigeria. It, therefore, beggars belief that so much useful energy is channelled by dark forces into this futile bid to bring down a man whose political ambition was not and still is not worth the blood of any citizen.”

The controversial Malabu scandal involves the transfer of about $1.1 billion by oil multinationals, Shell and ENI, through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete.

Prosecutors alleged that half the money ($520 million) went to the accounts of companies jointly controlled by Abubakar Aliyu, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA oil, and Mr Etete. Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect Mr Aliyu fronted for top officials of Mr Jonathan’s administration, as well of officials of Shell and ENI.

The transaction was authorised in 2011 by Mr Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers, and the money was payment for the block, considered one of Nigeria’s most lucrative. Although Shell and ENI initially claimed they did not know the money would end up with Mr Etete and his cronies, evidence has shown that claim to be false.

Shell later admitted it did know the money would go to Mr Etete. Shell, Eni, Mr Etete, Mr Aliyu and several officials of the oil firms are being prosecuted in Italy for their roles in the scandal.

Jonathan is not under any probe on the matter.

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Peter Obi Chides FG, Says Poverty on the Increase, Unemployment Rising

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The presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 election, Peter Obi, has criticized Nigerian leaders for their misplaced priorities amidst the country’s declining economic fortune. Obi, in a social media statement, noted that Nigeria’s GDP growth rate plummeted from 6.72% between 1999-2014 to 2.79% in 2015, followed by a recession in 2016 with a negative growth rate of -1.58% and 0.82% in 2017.

He lamented that the country’s economy has regressed significantly over the past nine years, with Nigeria losing its position as Africa’s largest economy. He said, “When Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999, it maintained an average GDP growth of about 6.72% for 16 years from 1999-2014. The impressive growth trajectory, unfortunately, was not sustained by the then-new government and our GDP growth collapsed to 2.79% in 2015 and then sank into a recession in 2016 with a negative growth of -1.58% and 0.82% in 2017. For the past 9 years, Nigeria’s economy has seen unprecedented retrogression on many fronts.

“In 2014, just before the inception of a new administration a year later, Nigeria had the biggest economy in Africa with a Gross Domestic Product of $568.5 billion and a GDP Per Capita of about $3,200.

“Our economic indices pointed towards hope and prospects for the future growth of the economy. Nine years later, the giant of Africa has retrogressed to the 4th largest economy in Africa.

“Reports showed our GDP in 2023 stood at $375 billion with a per capita of $1700. In 2024, our estimated GDP declined further to $253 billion with an estimated per capita of $1087. These trends and figures show how our 9 years journey since 2015 has resulted in a sharp decline in our national prosperity.”

He added, “Today, poverty is pervasive and on the increase. Unemployment is rising. Food inflation has skyrocketed to over 43%.

Foreign and local investors are losing faith in the future growth of our economy and are leaving in large numbers.

“Businesses are shutting down. Urgent actions need to be taken to salvage the nation from further economic collapse and move it from consumption to production.” Instead of addressing these pressing issues, Obi accused leaders of prioritizing their selfish luxuries and lavishness while blaming others for the country’s problems.

According to him, politics should focus on serving the people and bettering society, committing to inclusive and sustainable growth to alleviate hardship and achieve a peaceful and secure society.

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Aftermath of Monopoly Allegation: Dangote Offers to Sell Refinery to NNPC

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Africa’s wealthiest man Aliko Dangote said he is willing to give up ownership of his multibillion-dollar oil refinery to the state-owned energy company NNPC Limited.

The billionaire spoke as a new dispute with one of the key equity partners in the plant heats up in the latest phase of a bitter row with regulatory authorities in Nigeria.

The 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery, which came to life last year after a decade of prolonged construction, cost $19 billion, more than double the initial estimate, promising to help wean Africa’s biggest oil producer off its reliance on fuel from overseas and save up 30 per cent of the total foreign exchange spent on importing goods.

“Let them (NNPCL) buy me out and run the refinery the best way they can. They have labelled me a monopolist. That’s an incorrect and unfair allegation, but it’s OK. If they buy me out, at least, their so-called monopolist would be out of the way,” Mr Dangote told PREMIUM TIMES in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

“We have been facing fuel crisis since the 70s. This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery.”

The multisectoral investor’s big bet on oil and gas, which he ventured into following years of relatively stress-free dominance of Nigeria’s cement, salt and sugar industries, is turning out problematic in its early days.

Set for its first roll-out of petrol to the Nigerian market in August, the mammoth plant has been operating just above half its capacity since the January start of refining operations, constrained in part by difficulties in sourcing crude from international producers.

Dangote Refinery said those companies are either demanding outrageous premiums before agreeing to supply crude or simply claiming the product is unavailable.

NNPC, once a sweetheart of the refiner before the current dispute soured relations, had delivered only 6.9 million barrels of oil to the plant as of May since last year, according to S&P Global Platts, a tracker of supply data.

NNPC Limited has a supply deal with the company dating back to the commencement of operations and previously agreed to a 20 per cent equity participation, the refinery saying only 7.2 per cent has been fully paid for before the deadline issued to the company to acquire the stake.

Starving the refinery of the feedstock required to keep it running at present capacity means it has turned to countries like Brazil and the US to bridge the gulf in supply.

“As you probably know, I am 67 years old, in less than three years, I will be 70. I need very little to live the rest of my life. I can’t take the refinery or any other property or asset to my grave. Everything I do is in the interest of my country,” Mr Dangote told PREMIUM TIMES.

“This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery. At least the country will have high-quality products and create jobs,” he added.

Mr Dangote said the obstacles his refinery is facing seem to have vindicated friends and associates who conselled him to tread with caution as he pumped billions of dollars into the Nigerian economy.

“Four years ago, one of my very wealthy friends began to invest his money abroad. I disagreed with him and urged him to rethink his action in the interest of his country. He blamed his action on policy inconsistencies and shenanigans of interest groups. That friend has been taunting me in the past few days, saying he warned me and that he has been proven right,” the businessman said.

Culled from Premium Times

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Media Office Alleges Plot to Arrest Peter Obi by Tinubu’s Govt

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The Peter Obi Media Reach has refuted allegations made by the presidential spokesman, Bayo Onanuga, linking the 2023 Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to a planned protest.

The media office described the allegations as wild, wicked and baseless, saying that the presidency was planning to use the planned protest to arrest Obi.

In a lengthy post on his verified X handle on Saturday, Onanuga claimed that Obi’s supporters are behind the planned nationwide protests against the Tinubu administration.

The presidential aide said Obi and his supporters should be held responsible for any mayhem that may occur in the protest, alleging that “they are not democrats but anarchists.”

Onanuga accused the protest organisers of lacking the patience to wait for another election in 2027 and instead, “destabilise Nigeria by staging a civilian coup against President Bola Tinubu.”

He claimed that those organising the protests were also behind the ENDSARS protest of October 2020, which later turned violent and urged security agents to interrogate the “agents of destabilisation” behind the demonstrations.

However, in a statement issued by its spokesman, Yunusa Tanko, on Saturday, the media office said the “unsubstantiated allegations are being orchestrated to arrest Obi and limit his freedom and association”.

Tanko also stated that the allegation was an attempt to stop Obi’s propagation of good governance, which the presidency found injurious to their lavish lifestyle.

He added that the former Governor of Anambra State has not in any way shown or been associated with violence, even in the most obvious provocations.

The statement reads, “The attention of the Peter Obi Media Reach, POMR, has been drawn to the wild, wicked and baseless allegations by one of the Spokespersons in the Presidency, Bayo Onanuga, accusing the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, of being the mastermind of a planned protest in the country.

“The statement even said that Obi should be held responsible for any mayhem that may occur in the protest. But POMR can report from good and reliable authority that these unsubstantiated allegations are being orchestrated to arrest Obi, limit his freedom and association and stop his propagation for good governance which they find injurious to their lavish lifestyle.

“Peter Obi, by his mien in and out of political office, has not in any way shown or been associated with violence even in the most obvious provocations. He has always shown, even during the electioneering, that he is issue-driven as he carries on without calling anybody’s name.

“POMR is also aware that multiple attack dogs have been hired and strategically deployed to ensure that Obi does not enjoy the ear of the Nigerian populace who are keen on hearing his voice on issues.

“These spine doctors and hirelings, to justify their pay, indulge in all kinds of falsehood ostensibly to distract Obi and confuse Nigerians who already see Obi as a suiting balm in the current turbulent political and economic environment.”

The media team urged Nigerians to ignore the Presidency’s cheap blackmail as Obi and his supporters all over the country and in the diaspora remain resolute in their search for a new Nigeria.

“It added, “All the problems, real and imagined, created by their insensitivity and lavish lifestyle they have curiously tried to link to Obi. Notable challenges of the administration, which are a consequence of their actions and inactions like fuel subsidy fallouts, growing poverty in the land, inflation, nepotism and unresolved historical conflicts, among others they blame all on Obi.

“POMR, therefore, wishes to urge Nigerians to ignore the Presidency’s cheap blackmail as Obi and the Obidient family all over the country and in the diaspora remain resolute in their search for a new Nigeria that is possible and would not be cowed or be made to lose focus.”

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