Top officials of the Federal Government held a meeting on Monday to discuss the government’s response to the $9.6bn judgment entered against Nigeria in favour of Process and Industrial Developments by a United Kingdom court.
The meeting, which was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, came as the economic implications of the controversial judgment on Nigeria gained national and international focus.
Participants at the meeting were largely members of the Economic Management Team of the government and other officials. They were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr Timipre Silva; Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Festus Keyamo; and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr Melee Kyari.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele; and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, were also at the meeting.
The meeting ended at about 3.50pm, but the officials refused to grant interviews.
Lai Mohammed was the first to come out of the venue but he quickly walked away as reporters approached him.
The Senior Special Assistant to the VP on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, too refused to speak, insisting that Mohammed would address the public at the appropriate time.
When asked what the agenda of the meeting was, Akande said he was not “authorised” to speak because the matter on the agenda was a referral to the VP by President Buhari.
However, some of the participants at the meeting confirmed off record that the meeting discussed the $9.6bn.
One of them said the Federal Government’s lawyer in the case, who was based in the UK, was part of the meeting, adding that he gave “an update on the case.”
The source added that as of the time the meeting ended, no conclusion was reached.
Before the meeting with the VP, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, had dashed to the Presidential Villa and reportedly met with Buhari to brief the President on the latest developments concerning the P&ID case.
He was sighted in company with the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, on their way to Buhari’s office.
State House sources revealed that “nothing else as important as the P&ID issue” could have brought Malami to the Villa to meet with Buhari on his first day in office after the President returned from Japan on Saturday.
One official said, “It is most likely the AGF came to brief Mr President on the Federal Government’s chances and options.
“It is to guide the government in taking the appropriate steps. There have been mentions that the government will appeal the judgment.
“There are also comments by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, suggesting that the government is also not ruling out negotiations with the P&ID on how to resolve the issue. The AGF’s visit may be part of the ongoing discussions within the government to decide on the immediate step to take.”
Malami emerged from Buhari’s office about 12.25pm and was practically shielded by Kyari as the AGF hurried past on his way out.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has denied reports indicating that representatives of P&ID attended the meeting.
The Senior Special Assistant to the VP, Mr Laolu Akande, reacting to the reports, said, “I have seen some reports purporting that the P&ID representatives attended a meeting in the Vice President’s office this afternoon.
“No such thing happened. There were no P&ID representatives in any shape or form near the Villa.”
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