ON Thursday, Justice Abubakar Kutigi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Gwagwalada, Abuja, ordered the arrest of a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, for his involvement in the Malabu oil scandal.
His arrest was ordered alongside Munamuna Seidougha, and Joseph Amaran who were allegedly co-owners of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited to which Etete, then Minister of Petroleum under the regime of General Sani Abacha, had used to procure the fraudulent allocation of the oil block.
This decision follows an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, accusing the trio of the fraudulent roles they played in the allocation of the lucrative Oil Processing Licence, OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in 1998.
In his ruling Justice Kutigi stated he had studied the application filed by the anti-graft agency and deemed it fit to grant their prayer.
“I have carefully gone through the application…The application has merit and is granted as prayed,” he said.
The EFCC said the three are being wanted in relation to a pending charge connecting them with the $1.09 billion Malabu Oil Block settlement agreement.
Counsel to the EFCC, Bala Sanga, had told the court that the ex – parte application was filed on January 28 and supported by an 8-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Ibrahim Ahmed and attached with one exhibit.
“The kernel of the ex-parte application is that names of the respondents in the criminal charge CR/151/2020 were mentioned in count 14-42 of the charge and where indicated to be at large,” he said.
He explained further that in order for the respondents to be brought before the court to enter their pleas, an order of warrant for their arrest had to be issued.
“Intelligence suggests they reside in France and occasionally at some African countries and to be able to get the support of the international police, the warrant of arrest would be needed,” he said.
The EFCC had named Etete, Seidougha, and Amaran as being on the run in the 42 counts of the alleged fraudulent Malabu Oil transactions recently filed against the immediate-past Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke and six others.
Adoke and others had since pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail by the judge on Thursday.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.