A whistleblower, Fidelia Onoghaife, who exposed Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria, Robert Petri, of leaking confidential information about an extensive corruption investigation into the operation of Shell to the oil company, has challenged her dismissal at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
Onoghaife, a Nigerian-British, who was the Senior Policy Advisor of Economic and Political Affairs at the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria, wondered why she was sacked while the ambassador continued to work in the foreign ministry.
She revealed that it was unfair and demanded compensation.
“I don't even know what I'm accused of,” she said.
NRC, a Dutch online news outlet, revealed that the ministry had called the ambassador to Nigeria back after revealing to a senior boss of Shell in Nigeria at the end of 2017 that FIOD investigation agency would visit the Nigerian authorities.
Onoghaife had complained to the ministry that Petri was not observing integrity regulations – he leaked secret information to Shell, which is involved in a major corruption scandal in Nigeria and flew on the private jet of the oil company.
The leakage of the confidential information fuelled tensions at the embassy and because of that report, she felt she had to leave.
The Dutch and Italian authorities have been conducting criminal investigations into Shell and Eni for years, and their possible involvement in the corrupt purchase of the offshore oil field OPL 245, which involves $1bn in kickbacks.
The lawsuit shows that it was Onoghaife, who told the ministry about it and that cost her job, she suspects.
After she filed her complaint about the ambassador, an investigation into the alleged integrity violations followed.
Petri was not allowed to come back afterwards but shortly afterwards another investigation came into the general atmosphere at the embassy.
That suddenly showed that Onoghaife had been behaving impossible for years, hence the punishment she is being subjected to as whistleblower of the whole issue.
However, the ministry's lawyer maintains that this connection does not exist.
“Yes, it is true that the ambassador had to leave after the “internal stasi” visited the embassy in the capital,” he tells the judge.
Since then, Onoghaife has been "broken-winged" at the ministry.
If she had been warned enough before she was fired, the judge now wants to know exactly.
The judge is expected to deliver his verdict on the case on September 9.
An integrity investigation into Petri’s tenure as ambassador to Nigeria was prompted by a complaint received by the country, NRC, a Dutch online news outlet revealed.
Petri was brought back to the Netherlands after 15 months, after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs identified major problems at the post in Abuja.
Research by NRC further shows that the ministry only intervened after two consecutive inspections: an integrity investigation into Petri at the end of 2018, and subsequently a specially inserted investigation into the working climate at the embassy at the beginning of 2019.
FIOD travelled to Abuja in December 2017 as part of the criminal investigation into Shell's large-scale bribery in Nigeria.
The embassy had prepared the visit of the FIOD officers to their Nigerian sister organisation, EFCC.
Shell and the Italian oil company Eni are said to have paid about $1bn in bribes to local officials and politicians to obtain the rights to this field.