Nigeria may lose at least N549 billion ($2.8 billion) in oil royalty and petroleum tax in what appears an absurd deal involving Mohammed Adoke, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Businessday reports.
Investigation by a wire report alleged that Adoke was negotiating a deal with the Nigerian subsidiary of Chinese-owned Addax Petroleum that could deny Nigeria about N549 billion. The report alleged that the deal was reminiscent of the infamous Malabu Oil scandal in which Adoke was also named.
It was gathered that the attorney-general was working to reach an out-of-court settlement in a law suit over a 15-year alleged miscalculation of oil royalty obligations and taxes worth $1.7billion and at least $1billion, respectively, between Addax (plaintiff) on one hand and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), Ministry of Petroleum Resources (Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (defendants) on the other.
Addax had approached a Federal High Court in Abuja in 2014 to stop the payment of the disputed unpaid royalty stemming from its alleged miscalculation of oil royalty requested by the DPR. The company is also challenging the NNPC for over-lifting crude from its Production Sharing Contract (PSC) of OMLs 123, 124, 126 and 137 to cover for the alleged miscalculation.
However, an article from the Punch also reports The Federal Ministry of Justice has said that national interest will not be compromised in a suit filed by Addax Petroleum Development (Nigeria) Limited and Addax Petroleum Exploration (Nigeria) Limited against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and three other government agencies.
The ministry, which stated this in a statement on Wednesday by the Director of Information in the Ministry of Justice, Charles Nwodo, denied that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, SAN, was involved in an alleged deal capable of robbing Nigeria of N549bn.
The ministry faulted a publication, which portrayed Adoke as not being interested in defending Addax against NNPC, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Federal Inland Revenue Services.
“While the Attorney General of the Federation is not averse to amicable resolution of any disputes where sufficient justification exists for such closure, it is not in his nature to act unilaterally, especially where the Office is a nominal party (as in this case) nor is it in his character to coerce agencies of government to enter into settlements that are likely to compromise national interest or perverse the course of justice.
“The AGF wishes to assure Nigerians that the Addax suit will not be treated differently, no matter the issues involved and regardless of the interests at play.
“It must be stated very clearly that the AGF is only a nominal party in the aforementioned suit. The principal agencies of government concerned with the issues in dispute are the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“That no defence of action has been filed till date is because the DPR and FIRS are yet to accede to the request for the relevant information and supporting documents from the Office of the Attorney General, so the insinuation is both baseless and reckless.”
According to the ministry, any lawyer knowledgeable in the rudiments of legal practice would agree that a counter-affidavit cannot be prepared and filed by the AGF, or anybody for that matter, without such necessary information and documents.