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Malabu oil scam: Nigerian witness fumbles in testimony against Eni in Italy

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AT the ongoing corruption trial of oil conglomerates, Shell & Eni in Milan, Italy the court listened to the testimony of Isaac Eke, a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police as he spoke about his role in the ongoing probe of the $1.1 billion Malabu oil scandal. 

At the hearing held at the Palace of Justice in Milan, Eke who was invited to the witness stand by defendant Vincenzo Armanna, past Eni manager, who became one of the main accusers of the current Eni Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Claudio Descalzi amongst other managers.

In a series of tweets by Barnaby Pace, an environmental journalist who posted details of the court proceeding Eke’s statements contradicted the letter he had written to the court of his willingness to testify in the case.

In his letter, Eke stated that Armanna was introduced to him as the main contact person for Agip in Nigeria, Eni’s subsidiary but during cross-examination in the court he said no one was introduced to him as Eni’s contact.

He also admitted that he was summoned by the then National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno who gave him instructions which involved paying for his accommodations and flights for which he will be reimbursed by Armanna.

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Another witness called by Roberto Casula, a defendant in the case was Salvatore Castilletti, a senior official with the Italian secret service who was in charge of protecting Italians in Eni. He said while he was attached to Eni he never heard the mention of OPL 245 nor was he a part of the process.

Considered to be one of the biggest corporate corruption scandals in history, the Malabu oil scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by oil giants Shell and Eni through the Federal Government to accounts controlled by a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete.

Shell and Eni were said to have given the bribes in a bid for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks. The oil block’s reserves were estimated to be 9.23 billion barrels of crude oil.

Since the trial of the deal commenced, several of the oil giants’ most senior executives have been in the dock, after being accused of massive corruption.

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.

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