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The Emergence of a ‘One Man Cabal’

The infamous ‘Cabal’ has seen better days as the influential nephew of the President, Mammam Daura and his ally Isah Funtua are at odds with Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari, this is according to Opera News.  The genesis of the rift is reportedly from the rejection of ministerial nominees from Mamman and Funtua by Kyari. The dilemma in the ministerial list led to its delay and also saw the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari ignored on her preferences. 

The report reveals that this move was retaliated in the ousting of Abba Kyari in the controversial Keystone Bank takeover deal where Isah Funtua allegedly used his son-in-law in AMCON to buy its bad debt and purchased the bank for a paltry N25billion. This was reported as the last straw that broke Abba Kyari who was christened the official middleman when at the ministerial inauguration; President Buhari announced that all correspondence must pass through his chief of staff relegating Mamman Daura and Isha Funtua to his (Kyari’s) mercy.

Mamman Daura and President Muhammadu Buhari at Chatham House in Feb 2015

THE CABAL

From allegations by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki of a cabal in the presidency trying to bring him down, to protest by APC Concerned Nation Stakeholders against internal forces pulling down the administration and later confirmation from the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari that a cabal runs the country by controlling her husband, it is no news that these power people exist and no longer operate under wraps. 

Reports over the years as identified the cabal members to include:

Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Buhari

Chief of staff to the president, Abba Kyari:  The chief of staff to the president is strategically placed closest to the president. He receives reports from ministers on behalf of the president and is a number one headache of vice president, Yemi Osinbajo as he is seen undermining the office of the VP without let. 

President’s Nephew, Mamman Daura: The nephew of President Buhari, has been identified as an unofficial vice president, much more than Osinbajo. Although he holds no political office in this dispensation, Daura, is often seen with the president and travels with him. 

Friend of the President, Ismailia Funtua: Chairman of Bulet International construction is reported to have the ears of the president on national issues, including appointments. 

Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai: Though he has come out to deny being a member of the cabal, the two-term governor and ex-Minister of the Federal Capital Territory is reported to have once been in the race for the president’s chief of staff.

Isamaila Funtua, a childhood friend of President Muhammadu Buhari

This once tight-knit bunch has allegedly been running the country with Buhari as its puppet. They were reportedly significant in the Ministerial appointments, ousting the Wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, the relegation of the vice president; Yemi Osinbajo amongst other national decisions. 

The latest national decision sees Abba Kyari at its centre and affects the recovery of over $62.1 million from International Oil Companies in arrears as oil revenue entitled to the federal government from 2008 to 2018. Chief of staff, Abba Kyari in a letter dated 16th, October 2019 reportedly demanded that the Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami terminate the recovery contract the ministry had signed with Trobell International Limited.

TROBELL CONTROVERSY

President Mohammadu Buhari in March 2019 ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to disengage Trobell International barely a year after their engagement. The AGF ignored this directive and was again through Abba Kyari asked to terminate the recovery contract.

Kyari was reportedly alarmed at the 5% commission payable to Trobell as a recovery agent. Though the percentage was 25% lesser than that of the previous administration, the Presidency was reported to have wondered why the Department of Petroleum Resources being industry regulators, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service isn’t allowed to do their jobs of recovery.

Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

The reservations may not be unconnected to commission payments of $17M to Nigerian lawyers for the return of $321 million Abacha Loot from Switzerland — though a Swiss attorney, Enrico Monfrini, did all the recovery for seven years.

Malami defended his position on Trobell thus:

“The 5% as a recovery fee is a product of innovation introduced by the Federal Government upon the assumption of office of President Muhammadu Buhari as against 30% and above which was the traditional fee by the previous administration…… It does not accord with reason and logic for the Federal Government of Nigeria to overlook, forgo and condone the loss of $64bn on account of meagre 5% fee payable upon recovery.”

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Similarly, Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko said: 

“I find it a chagrin that a Nigerian government official, who should be working in the larger interest of the Nigerian people, will seek to set aside a Supreme Court’s judgment that is actually in favour of Nigerians.

WHY TROBELL INTERNATIONAL? 

Following the insistence of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Trobell International after two presidential directives to terminate the ministry’s contract with them, eyebrows rise, Why Trobell International?

With little or no online presence, Trobell International Nigeria Limited is a private company with headquarters in Port Harcourt. The company has estimated revenue of $1M and less than 20 employees. 

Further investigation by Roots TV reveals that the company was incorporated on 17th, June 1987 and is led by Lawal Garba. From 2012 to 2013, Trobell was a Pre-shipment Inspection agent for Oil and Gas export under the Nigerian Export Supervision Scheme. It is worthy of note that in 2017 alone, Trobell International remitted over 8 Billion naira in pension with a staff strength of just 3. 

It was reported that on 19th January 2018, Trobell International proposed to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation an engagement as an agent to recover diverted proceeds of the Governments of Nigeria due to the share of profit oil under the various Production Sharing Contracts. 

On 12th April 2018, the company got approval from AGF and engaged the services of lawyers, engineers, financial experts, and petroleum experts nominated by state governments of Rivers, Bayelsa and Cross River.

On 14th, January 2019, Trobell had on behalf of the federal government demanded $13.65B from Shell as one of the oil companies to remit revenue as ordered by the Supreme Court.

$62.1B OIL REVENUE IN ARREARS

Nigeria awarded Production Sharing Contracts to multinational oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell PlcExxonMobil Corp, Chevron Corp, Total SA, and Eni SpA in 1993 for exploration in deep offshore and inland on the basis that they would share profit with the government after recovering their costs.

The federation was supposed to automatically get more share of the oil revenue after several years but the terms were not reviewed after the price of crude oil exceeded $20 per barrel from $9 per barrel as it then was.

Between 2003 and 2015 the federal government lost an estimated sum of $1,149,750,000,000 due to its failure to activate the upward review of the sharing formula.

President Muhammadu Buhari

Due to the lack of an upward review of the sharing formula to 60 – 40 in favor of the federal government, Nigeria was estimated to be entitled to oil revenue at $62.1 billion from 2008 to 2018 which remains unpaid.

The Supreme Court had in October 2018 delivered a judgment ordering the Federal Government to immediately commence steps to recover outstanding revenues lost to oil exploring and exploiting companies due to the wrong profit-sharing formula termed as the Production Sharing Contracts. 

This judgment followed a suit filed by Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River states to recover all allocations due to them as oil-producing states of the nation, Hence Malami’s contract to Trobell International.

While the drama unfolds between the presidency and the attorney general of the federation, it can be recalled that same Abba Kyari hand-delivered the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin production sharing contract Act 2019 to President Buhari on 4th November in faraway London while he was on a private visit for 15 days, to sign it into law. 

On Nov 4, 2019, Abba Kyari, took a bill to President Muhammadu Buhari, who was in London on a private visit.

This move trended the #AudioVP which many signified the final proof that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been relegated and Kyari has taken his position.

This law is one which is coming 16 years too late but will now see Nigeria receive its fair, rightful and equitable share of income from its natural resources. 

While Malami’s insistence on Trobell is one to watch, one unique character is consistent from the move to terminate Trobell, to the seal that gives Nigeria more from oil revenue. Either way, a collector will be needed. 

If Trobell is successfully kicked out, will the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Federal Inland Revenue Service take up the mantle or will a more ‘convenient’ option surface? 

We wait with eagle eyes!