I didn’t forge oil contract, Obasanjo’s in-law John Abebe tells court

John Abebe, Obasanjo's brother-in-law

John Abebe, a businessman and brother-in-law of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Monday denied forging parts of an oil contract before an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

Oil firm Statoil Nig. Ltd. filed a suit on June 22, 2010, accusing Mr Abebe, brother of the late former first lady Stella Obasanjo, of forgery.

According to the company, the defendant forged parts of a net profit interest agreement (NPIA) dated November 30, 1995, which was drafted by British Petroleum (BP).

Abebe who was arraigned on July 26, 2018, faces a four-count charge of forgery, fabricating evidence, using fabricated evidence and attempt to pervert the course of justice.

The charge was brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Led in evidence by defence counsel Edoka Onyeke, Abebe who is the managing director of Inducon Nig. Ltd. and Osborne Chemicals Ltd. told the court the agreement was not forged as alleged by Statoil.

He said: “In 1995, there was a lot of talk in the oil industry about Statoil wanting to sell their assets and leave the country.

“I was approached by BP in the United Kingdom and a meeting was called and held in their London office in which this particular issue was discussed between myself and BP in the UK.

“At the end of the day, an agreement was signed between BP and my company, Osborne Chemicals, to work together and buy potential stakes of Statoil assets in Nigeria.

“It is notable that the agreement is still very much alive and both companies have not cancelled that agreement.

“It was a whole five years after, that Statoil started accusing me of forging a BP document. If indeed such existed, I do not believe BP would have touched me with a one-mile-long pole.”

The defendant disputed the October 2018 testimony of Joanne Cross, an employee of BP Petroleum, who said the document was forged.

Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until Tuesday for continuation.