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Eni and Shell go on trial over Nigeria kickback scandal

– Email trail –

Email exchanges between Shell management cited by Global Witness, and seen by AFP, suggest that Shell was aware the money was likely to be funnelled to individuals, including Etete and Jonathan.

“Etete can smell the money,” a Shell official wrote in 2010, while another said, “the President (Jonathan) is motivated to see 245 closed quickly –- driven by expectations about the proceeds that Malabu will receive and political contributions that will flow as a consequence.”

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the EFCC, filed corruption charges against Shell and Eni in March 2017, accusing 11 defendants, including Etete, of “official corruption” in connection with the deal.

Current president, Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged to fight relentlessly against the “cancer of corruption” that plagues Africa’s largest oil producer.

But in a letter leaked in February from Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, to Buhari dating from September, the minister asked the president to interrupt the EFCC investigation.

In the letter Malami expressed concern that the case did not contain enough evidence to bring the main defendants to justice and that a trial would be an embarrassment for the country and could put off potential investors.

Global Witness called for justice, saying that “$1.1 billion can help a lot of people in a country like Nigeria” where “80 percent of citizens live on less than two dollars a day”.

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