GOODLUCK Ebele Jonathan, Nigeria’s former president, has officially responded to bribery allegations levelled against him by the federal government in an oil scandal dating eight years back.
According to filings in a London court hearing the said case, the Nigerian government had accused Jonathan and his then oil minister of accepting bribes and breaking the country’s laws to broker the $1.3bn oil deal.
The deal, in which Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell and Italian peer Eni jointly acquired the rights to the OPL 245 offshore oilfield, has spawned legal cases spanning several countries.
In papers advancing a London commercial court suit against Shell and Eni, lawyers for the Nigerian government said Jonathan and former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke conspired to ‘receive bribes and make a secret profit,’ keeping the government from getting what it was owed from the deal.
‘Bribes were paid,’ the filing, reviewed by Reuters, states. It says ‘the receipt of those bribes and the participation in the scheme of said officials was in breach of their fiduciary duties and Nigerian criminal law.’
In his rebuttal, Jonathan dismissed all the claims as among others, falsehood, cheap and predictable ploy by the government to deflect from its failings and to tarnish his image at a time his profile continued to soar.
The May 12 statement issued by his media advisor, Ikechukwu Eze, read in part: ‘We will quickly dismiss this report as a recycled falsehood that is blatantly dishonest, cheap, and predictable.
‘Although there is nothing new in this fabricated bribery claim which we had severally debunked in the past, we will continue to restate the following facts:
- Former President Goodluck Jonathan did not ask for or collect any bribes, neither has he been charged for asking or collecting bribes, neither will he ever be charged with asking for or collecting bribes, because such never happened.
- That this particular dispute predated the Jonathan administration and survives it.
- That former President Jonathan is 61 years old and throughout his life has never opened an account, nor owned property outside Nigeria. Perhaps those behind this latest propaganda would be bold enough to make the same deposition?