The London commercial Court approached the Nigerian Government to allow Jonathan to come to defend himself of the bribery allegation against him and the former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke who conspired to “receive bribes and make a secret profit” in respect of the controversial OPL 245 offshore oilfield.
Although the case is largely against Shell and the Italian oil giant Eni, the federal government accused Jonathan and Diezani of denying Nigeria what it was owed from the oil deal.
It said the duo accepted bribes and broke the laws in brokering the $1.3 billion oil deal in 2011.
“Bribes were paid. The receipt of those bribes and the participation in the scheme of said officials were in breach of their fiduciary duties and Nigerian criminal law,” it said.
The bone of contention is a payment made by Shell and Eni to acquire the licence for the oilfield thought to be one of the most lucrative in the country.
Its reserves are estimated at nine billion barrels.
Shell and Eni jointly acquired the rights to the OPL 245 offshore oilfield but the deal went awry, leading to legal cases in several countries.
Nigeria claims to have received only $209 million as a signature bonus on the deal, it estimates the value of the oilfield to have been “at least $3.5 billion”.
The Nigerian government has also filed a London case against U.S. bank JPMorgan for its role in transferring over $800 million of government funds to another former oil minister Chief Dan Etete, who has been convicted of money laundering.
JPMorgan has denied any wrongdoing.