The trial of Shell & Eni is ongoing in Milan, Italy, Valori.it, an Italian newspaper is reporting.
Italian authorities had asked prosecutors to produce Isaac Eke, a Nigerian witness who is a retired assistant inspector-general of police, in the ongoing probe of the $1.1bn Malabu oil scandal.
Eke was brought up by defendant Vincenzo Armanna, former Eni manager, who became one of the main accusers of the current CEO Descalzi and the other managers.
Shell and Eni were said to have given out bribes in the bid for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks. The oil block’s reserves were estimated at 9.23 billion barrels of crude oil.
At the time of the OPL 245 deal between 2010 and 2012, Eke was deputy commissioner of police operations in Abuja.
While testifying, Eke said he met Armannna twice through a mutual friend, Timi Ayei, the first time in 2014.
But the Italian prosecutor pointed out that he had earlier said, in his letter, that he met Armanna in 2009 and that he was introduced to him as Victor Nwafor.
Although Eke confirmed that his signature was on the letter, he said he has never used the name Victor Nwafor.
He said he was unaware the trial would be public but the prosecutor countered him, saying he had said he was ready to testify in the trial.
Asked who paid for his flight ticket to Italy, the witness said he did but was told Armanna would pay him for his flights and accommodation.
He also said he spoke with the Nigerian security services before he came to the country and was summoned by Babagana Munguno, national security adviser.
He, however, said he never met ENI’s managers.
The final witness, Salvatore Castilletti, a senior officer with the Italian secret service, AISE, was called by Eni manager and defendant Roberto Casula.
Castilletti said he was head of AISE in Abuja and knew Casula “as he was head of Eni in Nigeria and AISE had a role in protecting Italians in Eni.”
He said he never discussed OPL 245 with anyone since it was not part of his duties.
He also denied being aware of a meeting between ENI’s senior managers and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
The federal government had accused Jonathan and Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum, of accepting bribes for the OPL 245 deal.
The claims were that the duo received bribes concerning payments made to acquire the licence in 2011.
In the court case filed against Shell and Eni, the federal government said Jonathan and Alison-Madueke broke the law for making a secret profit and sidelining the government from its true share of the deal.
On April 9, 1998, the federal military government awarded OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, which was said to be owned mainly by Mohammed Abacha, son of the Sani Abacha, and Etete, who was the petroleum minister at the time.
On July 2, 2001, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked Malabu’s licence and assigned the oil block to Shell — without a public bid. Malabu went to court, but ownership was reverted to it in 2006 after it reached an out-of-court settlement with the federal government.
Shell fought back and commenced arbitration against Nigeria, but when Jonathan came to power in 2010, the controversy appeared to have been resolved with Shell and Eni agreeing to buy the oil block from Malabu for $1.1 billion.
The oil companies also paid $210 million as signature bonus to the federal government.
However, the deal has been enmeshed in more controversies and trials over allegations of bribery.