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Italian prosecutors have named
former President Goodluck Jonathan and Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who served
under his administration as Minister of Petroleum Resources, among those who
allegedly received kickbacks in the controversial $1.3bn oil block deal
involving oil giants ENI and Royal Dutch Shell.

According to AFP, Italian
prosecutors, in court documents filed late last months in Milan, claimed that
the Chief Executive of ENI, Claudio Descalzi, and his predecessor, Paolo
Scaroni, met Jonathan “in person” to thrash out the deal, which also involved
former British intelligence agents working as advisors for Shell.

The prosecutors alleged that
Jonathan and Diezani benefitted from a sum of $466m converted into naira and
used to grease the palms of some Nigerian government officials to facilitate
the alleged shady deal.

The prosecutors alleged that
another $54m was withdrawn by one Abubakar Aliyu, whom the prosecutors described
as an “agent” of Jonathan.

The beneficiaries of the money went
on a shopping spree buying “property, aero planes, armoured cars,” prosecutors
stated in the court papers.

In the said papers, which AFP
claimed to have sighted, the Italian prosecutors alleged that ENI and Shell
executives worked with a Nigerian businessman, Dan Etete, who was an “oil
minister under the military ruler, Sani Abacha, from 1995 to 1998.”

Etete’s company, Malabu was the alleged
“fraudulent holder” of the OPL 245 block, according to the court documents
filed by Italian prosecutors.

The prosecutors claimed that after
talks in Milan and Abuja, the oil block was bought illegally by the oil majors
in contravention of domestic laws, “without competitive tendering” and with
“full, unconditional exemption from all national taxes.”

To facilitate the alleged shady
deal, a total of $801.5m was allegedly transferred to Etete’s Malabu accounts,
out of which $466m was converted into naira and used for greasing the palms of
government officials, including Jonathan and Diezani.

However, ENI and Shell have both
denied wrongdoing in the transaction.

Shell, in an email to AFP, said,
“We are aware of the investigation and we hope to show the prosecutor that
there is no basis to prosecute Shell.

“Shell takes this matter seriously
and is co-operating with the authorities.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission had also recently pressed charges in connection with the same oil
block deal

Last Friday, the Federal High Court
in Lagos ordered three banks to temporary forfeit a sum of $153m, which Diezani
allegedly siphoned from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum

For his part, Jonathan has denied
that his government was corrupt and contested that the claim by his successor,
President Muhammadu Buhari, that he left “virtually empty” treasury.

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