Fidelis Oditah, a Queen’s Counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), whose company- Indigo Drilling drilled the Eaton field- one of the two fields been developed in the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 block, on Wednesday testified in the Milan court in Italy, as a consultant for Eni, one of the two companies standing corruption charges for the unwholesome sale of the block in 2011.
Indigo, which is jointly owned by Oditah Ibeneche, is part of the Transocean group of companies.
Transocean says that Indigo,”is jointly owned by Transocean and its local Nigerian partners, Chima Ibeneche and Fidelis Oditah, SAN. According to the company which managed the Deep water Horizon rig that spilled 210 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico in 2011, ‘Indigo operates Transocean’s rigs in Nigeria.
Transocean’s Deepwater Pathfinder drill vessel, drilled Etan-1X in OPL 245 to a Total Depth of 4,574 m in 1,720 m of water.
The well was said to have logged 120 m of hydrocarbon-bearing sands. Oditah did not declare to the Milan court that he has interest in the block before taking the stand to give his summation on the 2011 six-party agreement reached between the Federal Government of Nigeria, Malabu oil and Gas, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS), Eni and its Nigerian subsidiary Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE).
“Mr President to sum up, I believe that the challenge to the 2011 Resolution Agreement of Shell and ENI is just politically motivated by the FGN under pressure by international NGOs”.
Oditah made this conclusion, despite overwhelming evidence showing a webbed trail of kickbacks and sleazy deals that mandated the Milan prosecutor to begin trial after four years of investigation.
Connection to Kola Aluko
As a lawyer with expertise in solvency and corporate structures, Fidelis Oditah is no stranger to the corrupt entrails of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
Septa, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to Seven Energy International- a company Oditah served as non-executive Board member to between 2012 and 2016, received at least $26 million in loans from a firm called Arcadia. According to civil organizations- Global Witness, Corner House, and Re:common who have been providing evidence to the Milan prosecutor, says Arcadia collected $4 million from Rocky Top, one of the companies used to move proceeds of the payments made to Malabu Oil and Gas to the accounts of persons within and outside Nigeria.
The said $4 million remittance made to Arcadia by Rocky Top, was done on behalf of Septa. This same fund, was used to repay a loan to Ark, a company controlled by Kola Aluko- a former Deputy CEO of Septa).
Aluko is under investigation in Nigeria and the UK for money laundering on behalf of Alison Madueke-Nigeria’s Minister of petroleum Resources under Goodluck Jonathan.
Septa has since repaid loans worth $9 million to Arcadia for funds borrowed by Aluko. Aluko has been accused of using Seven Energy and Atlantic Energy to launder funds- a claim all parties deny. Oditah’s involvement with illicit monies predate’s Kola Aluko.
According to an online source, Professor Oditah received N5.7 million from a Zenith Bank Asaba branch account set-up by Ibori. The money was paid to him in three installments.
Oditah is also the Director of Vetiva, the financial service company that served as joint financial advisor and joint stockbroker for Notore Chemicals during the latter’s float on the Nigeria Stock Exchange. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the London Metropolitan Police have labelled Notore as a front for James Ibori.
Surprisingly, naught of this was mentioned on the prospectus for the firm’s listing on the stock exchange. Contrastingly, the allegation of Seven Energy’s involvement with Kola Aluko was stated on its bond issue.
In April, Dayo Ayoade, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, had iformed the Milan court that the Resolution Agreement that saw OPL 245 trasnfered to Shell and Eni, was an illegal deal.
He was followed by Stephen Rogers An expert from British firm Arthur D. Little, who observed that the valuation of the block itself as at April 29 2011 was far higher than the $1.3 billion officially paid for the block but siphoned into private pockets. Rogers said the value of the block was in the region of $3.5 billion.
The registration date of Indigo Drilling on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) website, is given as 2011-08-05, which is shortly after the April date of the resolution agreement.