The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, has given an insight into the case the Federal Government will on September 26 present to a British court challenging the $9.6bn judgment delivered in favour of Process and Industrial Developments in August.
Malami, who spoke with newsmenon Friday, said the case had yet to reach appeal level, but at the stage of determining whether or not the P&ID should be allowed to enforce the award of $9.6bn by an arbitration panel against Nigeria.
He said the Federal Government would tender before the court evidence that the Gas Supply Processing Agreement signed in 2010, which led to the August 2019 judgment of the British court, was rooted in fraud and corrupt practices.
Malami said although the court had ruled that Nigeria should pay P&ID $9.6bn, it had yet to grant the firm the go-ahead to seize Nigeria’s assets in enforcement of the award given in favour of the firm.
The AGF said the Federal Government would tender, among others, the investigative report of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as well as Thursday’s judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja convicting P&ID Limited which was incorporated in the British Virgin Island, and its Nigerian affiliate of fraud.
The AGF said the FG would also tender the charges pending against firms and individuals who played one role or another in the alleged fraudulent GSPA.
He said, “It has not got to any appeal stage as such.
“The arbitral panel had no enforcement power. So, when an award is made you have to approach the conventional court for the enforcement of the award.
“What they (P&ID) did was to approach the conventional court for the enforcement of the award.
“The conventional court said it was not going to give an order for the enforcement of the order until they were heard.
“They had wanted an order ex parte without putting us on notice to attach (for seizure) our assets. But the court said it would have to hear from the other side (Nigeria) in the enforcement proceedings.
“The court fixed September 26 for the hearing of arguments by the parties as to whether to allow for the enforcement or not to allow enforcement.
“So, it is not about an appeal now. The court’s pronouncement as to what amount of money to be paid has been made by the court.
“They now approached the court to allow them to attach Nigerian assets in fulfilment of the award that was granted. The court fixed September 26 for the entertainment of arguments as to whether or not it would allow the attachment of Nigeria’s assets.
“So, we are going to the British court to argue that they should not be granted the power to attach the assets.
“The only thing that can be of help to Nigeria in stopping the enforcement of the entire award is proof of corrupt practices as the basis for the arbitral award.
“So, we called for investigation as to the relationship between local partners component and international partners component.
“And arising from the proof of evidence that we have in support of the charges that were filed by the EFCC, there is evidence that money changed hands between international partners and officials of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources influencing things that had to do with the agreement, influencing the formation of the agreement, influencing what clauses should go into the agreement, influencing the officials to ensure the by-passing of the vetting by the Federal Ministry of Justice, influencing the by-passing of the presentation of the agreement before the Federal Executive Council.
“So, we have at our disposal proof that they sent money to Nigerian officials, and in return for the money that was sent to Nigerian officials, there was a compromise all through the creation of a fraudulent and deceitful agreement.
“Some of them have now pleaded guilty. So we are now armed with investigation report establishing corrupt practices. We are now armed with charges pending before the court arising from the fraudulent agreement.”
Malami said the FG would approach the court to set aside the award because the agreement was fraudulent.
He added that once “the court comes to know the existence of fraud, it would realise that the tribunal couldn’t have handed down the award against Nigeria”.
Asked how many persons had been indicted in the EFCC’s investigative report, he said, “There are two cases filed so far and there are four parties.
“One of them is Process and Industrial Developments Limited incorporated in British Virgin Island, the local company they registered here, Process and Industrial Developments (Nigeria) Limited. There is also Mohammad Kuchazi, and then Grace Taiga. Grace Taiga was one of the officers.”
He also said there was possibility of filing charges against more individuals and entities.
He said, “We cannot rule out the possibility of charging more. But so far, these are the ones that have been charged.”
Asked whether the FG would reinforce its legal team in the UK ahead of the September 26 proceedings, he said, “It is too early to decide”.
He added, “But we are having a general appraisal.
“It is the outcome of the general appraisal that will determine if the need for reinforcing the team arises.
“We have not taken a decision over it yet. But we will meet and review the whole thing generally and take a decision.”
The Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo on Thursday found P&ID Limited incorporated in British Virgin Island, and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited, guilty of fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and other sundry offences.
Justice Ekwo, who convicted the companies, also ordered their winding up and the forfeiture of their assets to the FG, after two men said to be directors of the firms pleaded guilty to the charges on behalf of the companies.
The EFCC on Friday arraigned a former Director, Legal Services of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Grace Taiga, on charges of bribery and other sundry offences in connection with the controversial GSPA, which led to the $9.6bn judgment.
The prosecution accused her of, among other charges, receiving a bribe through her offshore bank account in signing, alongside then-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Rilwan Lukman (deceased), the agreement between P&ID and the FG through the ministry on January 11, 2010.
Meanwhile, the Apo Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on Friday ordered that a former Director, Legal Services of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Grace Taiga, charged with offences connected with the controversial P&ID $9.6bn judgment should be remanded at the Suleja Prison in Niger State.
This came after the defendant pleaded not guilty to the eight counts preferred against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi subsequently fixed September 25 for the hearing of her bail application.
The prosecution accused her of, among other charges, receiving a bribe through her offshore bank account in signing, alongside then-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Rilwan Lukman (deceased), the Gas Supply Processing Agreement between the Process and Industrial Developments Limited and the Federal Government through the ministry on January 11, 2010.
She was also accused of violating various laws by entering into the GSPA without a prior approval by the Federal Executive Council and a certificate of no-objection to the contract from the Bureau of Public Enterprise.
The charges are in connection with the controversial Gas Supply Processing Agreement which led to the recent $9.6bn judgement given against Nigeria and in favour of Process and Industrial Developments by a British court.
Taiga was said to have signed as Nigeria’s witness to the GSPA while Lukman signed as Nigeria’s representative.
After she pleaded not guilty to the charges, her lawyer, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), who said his client was suffering from hypertension and diabetes, pleaded with the court to allow her to be remanded in the custody of the EFCC.
But the EFCC’s lawyer, Bala Sanga, opposed the request, insisting her proper place of custody after arraignment was in prison.
The judge agreed with the prosecuting counsel and ordered her remand in prison.
Justice Adeniyi however added that Taiga should be accorded due medical treatment in custody pending the hearing and determination of her bail application.
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