OrderPaperToday – A global anti-corruption coalition has urged Nigeria to press on with corruption charges against Eni, Shell and complicit Nigerian officials implicated in dealings involving billions of illicit funds embezzled in oil well OPL 245.
In a letter addressed to President Muhammad Buhari, the coalition made up of Re:Common, The Corner House, HEDA Resource Centre and Global Witness, noted that the legal systems in Italy and Nigeria allows Eni, Shell, and several others who were charged in Milan to also be prosecuted in Nigeria.
The coalition’s petition was signed by Luca Manes of Re:Common, Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House, Olanrewaju Suraju of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) and Simon Taylor, Global of Witness.
The petition read in part: “We are aware of mischievous, self-serving calls in press from allies of those being charged that the Nigerian prosecutions should be dropped on the basis that Milan has found no case to answer. These calls must be rejected. Italy is not in charge of Nigeria’s justice system. The judges in Nigeria must be allowed to hear the cases and to judge them on the basis of Nigerian law. Indeed, the world is now watching the Nigerian prosecutions,”
The international coalition applauded the stance of President Buhari in his letter to Eni of 14 June 2018, in which he stated that there should be no decision on whether or not to award an OML to the companies until extant prosecutions were complete.
The group reiterated that “as civil society organisations and partners in the promotion of accountability in the extractive sector we are in solidarity with the Nigerian Government and Italian Prosecutors in ensuring justice is delivered in this and other relevant cases.”
The Milan Tribunal ruled on 17 March 2021 that the 13 defendants in OPL 245 international corruption trial had no case to answer. But there are prospects of an appeal in Italy which the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office will likely take.