The Federal High Court, Abuja has returned Oil Prospecting License, OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks which is at the heart of the controversial Malabu oil deal scam to Shell and Eni.
Recall that on January 26, the court had issued an order forfeiting OPL 245 to the Nigerian government pending the conclusion of investigations into the controversy that had characterized the Malabu oil deal.
The order followed a motion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, who argued that the process through which the multinational oil companies, Shell and Eni, acquired the oil block was flawed.
But the oil companies challenged the order and asked the court to revert it. The companies argued that their rights of fair hearing were not considered before the ruling was reached.
They prayed the court to reverse the order, and allow the parties address the issue, legally.
Malabu, the company which was awarded the oil block in controversial circumstances in 1998 had also applied to be a party to the application.
Delivering the ruling on the various applications regarding the matter, Justice John Tsoho said that the ownership of the company should return to Shell and ENI.
However, the court refused the application by Malabu to be joined in the matter.