The House of Representative ad-hoc committee Probing the award of the Malabo oil deal on Wednesday invited Nigeria’s immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan to appear before it.
In a statement, the panel said it had conducted an extensive investigation into the OPL 245 saga and that in the interest of “thoroughness, natural justice, and fair play”, it was imperative that evidence should be taken from the former president.
“Mr. Jonathan was the president at the material time the ministers brokered the deal that led to the allegation of $1bn diversion of funds,” the statement read.
“Mr. Jonathan’s name features in the proceedings initiated by the public prosecutor of Milan in Italy;
“A UK court judgment in relation to an application to return part of the money being restrained castigated the Jonathan administration as not having acted in the best interest of Nigeria in relation to the ‘deal’;
“Accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of the constitution, the committee has decided to request that former President Goodluck Jonathan gives evidence as to his role in the matter.”
While responding to questions on the clarifications sought from Jonathan, Razak Atunwa, chairman of the committee, said that the former president was at liberty to make a written submission to the committee or otherwise.
“The proper thing is that the committee has taken a decision that he must give evidence,” he said.
“Section 89 of the Constitution requires that we ask for the evidence; we’ve asked him for evidence and he must give evidence, we have asked him to give his response and submission.
“A matter entirely for him is, he may desire to send us a written submission, and we consider every written submission. We take it one step at a time.
“The normal proceeding for a committee hearing investigating such matter is to take a written submission and whatever comes out of that will have to be decided at the committee level.’’
The sale of the block, which is considered as one of the most lucrative on the continent, has been replete with allegations and lawsuits since the license was awarded to Malibu oil owned by former Petroleum Minister Dan Etete by Abacha regime.