Nigeria’s attorney-general Abubakar Malami has said that last year’s approval to some operators in the oil industry to sell five sea vessels laden with crude oil and diesel forfeited to the Federal Government was legal.
Malami in a statement by his spokesman Umar Gwandu reacted to reports that he granted approval to Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited to dispose of the sea vessels laden with crude oil and diesel through an opening bid.
Refuting the report, Malami said the claim was “a maliciously concocted publication” alleging that he granted approval to a firm (Omoh Jay Nig Ltd) purportedly standing trial in court for stealing crude oil, diesel to auction goods seized from it.
He said that the reports were aimed at confusing the public and tarnishing his image. He insisted “that he committed no infraction by granting approval to Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited and its officials even if they were being prosecuted for alleged theft of crude oil.”
“Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited was granted approval vide Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) letter DPR/DSM/ROM/OPS/COL 2/285 dated 11th August 2009 to evacuate the products onboard of MT AKUADA and MT HOPE,” Malami said.
“That was four years before the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and long before Malami was appointed as the Attorney General of the Federation.”
Malami stated that reception of the forfeited property from the Federal High Court was in compliance to Buhari’s directive to clear territorial waters and highways of obsolete and unauthorized vessels, barges, ships, boats, trucks vehicles amongst others.
The attorney-general explained that the disposal of the vessels was done following the final forfeiture obtained by his office and the Presidential Directive of 25th October 2018 directing his office to put in the interim before the passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, appropriate transitional arrangements for the management and expeditious disposal of the realizable assets for the preservation of economic value.
“The issue of interest to the public, of which a serious journalist need to support the general public to know is whether Omoh-Jay being a duly registered company can be denied opportunity to participate in the auction bidding process on a purported account that the company is standing trial (NOT CONVICTED) by a competent court of the land if indeed as claimed that the Company is being criminally tried”.
He stated that the disposed of the vessels under reference were conducted with the due process following a report submitted by the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing on the value of these assets.
“The position of the law is clear by virtue of Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) that a person is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proved guilty.”