Oil Companies Debt Recovery: ‘I have no personal interest’ – Malami
Abuja (Min. of Justice) – The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has said that struggle to recover unpaid arrears of approximately sixty-two billion one hundred and ninety million six hundred and seventy-nine thousand seven hundred and ninety three dollars to the Federal Government of Nigeria by International Oil Companies was not for to get any percentage thereof.
This was made known in a statement issued and made available to the media by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, in Abuja on Thursday November, 2019.
The Minister reiterated his stance that the matter was neither propelled by any ulterior motive nor about gratification of any personal desire through any percentage to be given to the recovery agent, but of an unflinching patriotic commitment to get back to the country the revenue it deserves.
“It has never been the tradition of the Attorney-General of the Federation to demand much-less of accepting a Kobo on matters relating to such engagements and conduct of his official duties. Multiple agents were overtime engaged in that respect without pecuniary consideration”, the Minister reaffirmed.
The Process of payment of professional fee is exclusive function of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. Malami said it has never been the tradition of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to effect payment of the professional fees. It is a “function exclusively vested in Federal Ministry of Finance which has the right to vet, confirm and interrogate issues before any payment is made. And payments are made upon recovery directly to the recovery agent and not to the Office of Attorney-General”, he said.
Malami said rather than adopting campaign of calumny, evasive and dilly-dally techniques and tactics, the oil companies and their allies should channel such efforts toward paying the Federal Government its due, so as to execute more developmental projects in the country.
Against the insinuations that he hired the recovery agent to carry-out the task, Malami said Trobell International Ltd was the agency that originally came up with the idea of the liabilities of the oil companies for the consideration of the government adding that the Supreme Court case to that effect was a product of joint efforts and understanding established by the parties at the instance of the company.
“Subsequent action thereof; inclusive of the court case and engagement of professionals for forensic analysis that established the case and the liability in quantum were all the products of Trobell’s initiatives”, he said.
For the avoidance of any allusions of securing any personal gains, the Attorney-General of the Federation has established a tradition of presenting for the consideration of the Federal Executive Council contentious issues that borders on payment of professional fees for Council’s approval.
The Minister said he has established a tradition of being open and transparent through subjecting contentious payment of professional fees for Federal executive Council’s approval. He noted that when his integrity is at stake he has also established the tradition of submitting himself for judicial scrutiny and legal determination.
Malami recalled that in order to set the record straight and to clear his name against agents of blackmail he had in similar circumstances, before now, initiated legal action against a media outfit which is pending in a court of law where his integrity is impugned.
The HAGF is determined to protect his integrity against individuals and corporate personalities bent on tarnishing his reputation in the conduct of government affairs.
In this vain, the Minister, had submitted for judicial determination against The Cable Network for insinuating of corrupt practices in handling of the Abacha loot, by alleging without proof that the Minister was engaged in sent under hand dealings in relation to the professional fees of the lawyers.
Malami recalled that when the present administration assumed office, the country was at the threshold of financial crisis and effort were made to intensify anti-corruption fight including recovery of all looted Nigerian Assets.
He noted that despite the signing of Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, government in the past did not make concerted efforts to get the oil companies pay the revenue they deserve to pay.
“Nigeria was to get more shares of the oil revenue which the international companies did not pay the arrears of which was estimated as at 2018 at sixty- two billion one hundred ninety million, six hundred and seventy-nine thousand seven hundred and nine three dollars”, Malami explained.