Nigerian govt seizes private jet of ex-minister implicated in Malabu oil scam

The Federal Government on Saturday morning seized a Bombardier 6000 jet purportedly owned by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete.

The ex-minister is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over his alleged involvement in the $1.1 billion OPL 245 scam.

Etete, who served as Minister of Petroleum under the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha was accused of awarding the prospecting rights for OPL 245 to a company he secretly controlled, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

He later offloaded the oil block to oil giants Shell and Eni who paid a combined $1.3 billion to the federal government in 2011.

A former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke and several other individuals and companies were arraigned by the EFCC last year for their alleged involvement in the oil deal.

The jet touched down at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport in Canada on Friday evening and was seized on Saturday morning after a Quebec judge granted a seizure order.

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A lawyer appointed by the federal government in 2016 to recover assets from the OPL 245 deal, Babatunde Olabode Johnson, confirmed the seizure of the plane to journalists on Saturday evening.

According to him, the court order was served on the jet’s owner, Tibit Limited, which has until June 9 to challenge the seizure.

Tibit Limited is an anonymously owned company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Johnson said: “Our investigators in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 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.

“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.

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“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 3:00 a.m. in Nigeria when I made a statement to the judge via a video link.”

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