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Malabu scandal: Middleman who received $520m appears before Italian court

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A principal suspect in the controversial Malabu oil scandal, Abubakar Aliyu,  yesterday, appeared as a witness before an Italian court in Milan.

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Aliyu is alleged to have acted as a “middleman” for top officials of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in the long-running controversy.

He is being questioned in Italy over his role in what had been described as one of Africa’s most controversial corrupt oil deal.

The Malabu scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by Shell and ENI through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Dan Etete. From accounts controlled by Mr Etete, about half the money ($520 million) went to accounts of companies controlled by Mr Aliyu, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA oil.

During the trial in Italy,  yesterday, the prosecutors announced that an Italian lawyer who claimed to be acting for Aliyu visited them yesterday asking for a new delay.

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An anti-corruption campaigner who covered the trial, Barnaby Pace of UK Global Witness, however, said the lawyer was not present in court and that no written request was submitted.

But as proceedings commenced, Aliyu confirmed that he received the information regarding the charges against him.

He was, however, reminded he could choose not to answer questions as he could incriminate himself in the process.

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