The Federal Government has seized a private jet belonging to Dan Etete, Nigeria’s minister of petroleum from 1995 to 1998, who is accused of playing a part in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal.
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Financial Uncovered quoted Babatunde Johnson, whose firm Johnson & Johnson Solicitors, was appointed by the Federal Government in 2016 to recover assets from the OPL 245 deal, as saying the Bombardier 6000 jet, with tail number M-MYNA, landed in Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in Canada on May 29.
It said the jet had landed from Dubai via Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland.
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On Saturday, a court in the province of Quebec reportedly granted a seizure order for the aircraft, and was served on Tibit Ltd, the company which owns it.
Tibit Ltd, an anonymously owned company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, is said to have been given June 9 to oppose the court order.
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The jet, Johnson said, had been grounded in Dubai for the past four years, where it had been closely monitored.
“Our investigators in Dubai then noticed that the jet, having been grounded in Dubai for so long, suddenly did some test flights and even went up to a cruising altitude for a short while. It seemed like they were testing whether they could fly somewhere,” he was quoted to have said.
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“The jet then took off from Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai, mid-morning on Friday. We did not know the destination at that point.
“We now suspected that it was being flown to Canada for a major service, pending a possible sale.
“We had just a few hours to get a legal team in place on the ground there in Canada to file the injunction. It was 3am in Nigeria when I made a statement to the judge via video link,” he said.
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In 2011, the federal government brokered a deal between Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, the original allotees of the enormously endowed but controversial OPL 245, and Shell/ENI who wanted to buy the oil block from the Nigerian company.
While Shell and ENI paid a signature bonus of $210 million to the federal government, they paid $1.1 billion to buy 100 percent interest in the oil block from Malabu.
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The entire $1.3 billion was transferred to the account of the federal government in London, UK, from where Malabu was paid its $1.1 billion.
It later emerged that some Nigerian officials had collected bribes to ensure the deal went ahead.