Allison-Madueke, whom President Jonathan chose as Petroleum Minister over two men with impeccable technical credentials, is in the middle of a bitter war with her former business associate, now foes, as she tries to rescue her family business.
Information gathered by Huhuonline.com reveals that Mrs Allison-Madueke has muzzled the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), forcing it to not comply with a court directive ordering DPR (a subsidiary of NNPC) to put a lien on all financial operations of the Eremor offshore field OML46 operated by Excel Exploration and Production Company Limited. Retired Rear Admiral Allison-Madueke, husband of Mrs Allison-Madueke, is the Chairman of Excel.
Sources revealed to Huhuonline.com that Mrs. Allison-Madueke removed all the decision makers in DPR, who supported the enforcement of the lien on her husband’s firm just days after she was sworn in as Petroleum Minister. Huhuonline.com learnt that her initiative was tagged by the slogan “new appointments for new loyalties”. The new Petroleum Minister however, avers that the restructuring is with a view to “greater efficiency in line with the aspiration of the President, Mr Goodluck Jonathan, for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.”
Huhuonline.com understands that Alphin Fleury & Partner, an independent privately owned company incorporated in Zug, Switzerland in February 2000, was hired by the London office of the NNPC to organize financing for several Nigerian companies operating marginal oil fields. In theory, the extraction of oil or gas from marginal fields is reserved for Nigerian companies but largely financed by foreign companies.
Huhuonline.com investigation reveals that Alphin Fleury & Partners secured a twenty million dollar facility for Excel Exploration and Production Company Limited for Eremor field in OML46, plus the payment of two million dollars access bonus to the three shareholders of Excel, from the British finance firm Afren; with the understanding that they will be paid two hundred thousand dollars (1% finders fee by shareholders). But after Excel shareholders received the funds, they refused to honour the agreement.
Consequently, Rear Admiral Allison-Madueke’s and two other shareholder of Excel Exploration and Production Company Limited were cited by Alphin Fleury & Partners for failing to pay its fees and obtained a court ruling in its favour. In calling for a lien on financial transfers involving Eremor, Alphin Fleury & Partners hopes to recover its money.
The development of Eremor, which contains 30 million barrels of oil, has been funded since 2007 by Britain’s Afren Oil Company. Eremor was discovered by Royal Dutch/Shell, to which Excel has close links. It should be recalled that Mrs Alison–Madueke was previously in charge of external relations for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Mrs Allison-Madueke has remained elusive on the matter and contact with her has been unsuccessful. However, when Huhuonline.com contacted Alphin Fleury & Partners, Mr. Pierre Fleury said:
“This is an unfortunate situation which is causing concern to those interested to invest in Nigeria and a challenge to those that pretend that you can obtain justice in Nigeria like anywhere else. In 2003 and 2004 when Excel obtained the farm-out for Eremor Field in OML46 they looked for financing. First, they found Mart Resources. This relationship did not last for all kind[s] of reasons. One of them being that the CEO of Excel, Mr. Awosika is a very difficult man to handle".
"Excel contacted us then in 2006 and after a good year of work we obtained for Excel (July 2007) that (sic) Afren Plc develops and finances Eremor Field. We were supposed to be paid a finder fee as per contract signed with Excel. We were confident that this would be paid without problem since we had obtained for Excel the payment of an access bonus of USD 2M".
"Unfortunately Excel started arguing that some interpretation of our contract could allow them to walk away from their commitment. After lengthy discussions they informed us that if we are not satisfied by this situation we should go to court".
"We decided to hire the law firm of Charles Musa. After weeks and months of litigation we finally obtained from Excel in front of the Lagos Multi Door Court House (LMDC) on September 15th, 2008, a compromise signed in front of the judge (Mrs. Yinka Aroyewun) and signed by Excel".
"In that compromise we had to abandon USD 50,000 in our fee and the balance would then be paid in 5 instalments between October 15th, 2008 and May 15th, 2009".
"Could we be more accommodating…?"
"Excel made payment of the first 2 instalments and decided to stop paying [in] early 2009 since he [they] started to have problems with Afren and actually it seems that Afren was considering moving away, not so much from Excel and Eremor but much more away from Mr. Awosika. Anyway, the agreement in Court was valid until there would be any kind of termination between Afren and Excel".
"Such termination has not happened prior to May 15th 2009"...
"Face[ed] by this refusal to pay we decided to enforce the judgment. But LMDC, being a new Court system, there (sic) was no enforcement procedure in place. Our only alternative was to go to the High Court [to] have the LMDC judgment be validated by the High Court and then enforce against Excel"!
"The High Court confirmed on 29th of June 2009 the LMDC decision. Since then we are trying to enforce this judgment. Excel is today looking for new financing notably with Capital Alliance in Nigeria and [to] try to avoid any publicity in order to preserve its chances to find new funders".
"We finally decided to put a lien on the farm-out title early this year. [The] process was long and for some reasons the DPR is asking us to explain our case and then is asking Excel to provide explanations. It is as if the DPR wanted to judge this matter again"...
"I need to stress that since the new elections have brought new ministers the DPR does not communicate with us anymore. [It] remains clear that the lien is in place whether or not Excel and the DPR agrees or disagrees".
"As you can see we are far away from a bogus case. Excel has signed [an] agreement in front the judge at LMDC. The high Court has confirmed the judgment. Sooner or later Excel will pay us and we shall not give them any chances to walk away from their signature".
"Please be informed that the Swiss Embassy in Abuja is following up this case as a good example of how the legal system works in Nigeria and how well the interests of foreigners are protected in this country”.
However, the call on Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources to put a lien on all financial operations concerning the Eremor field operated by Excel Exploration & Production in regard to OML46 by the Swiss firm Alphin Fleury & Partner, has continued to raise pertinent questions and concerns within the international investment sector, as to the effectiveness of rule of law in Nigeria.