$9.6bn P&ID judgment: efcc arraigns director for bribery

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Friday, arraigned a former Director, Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Grace Taiga, before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on charges relating to the controversial Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) between Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The gas supply processing agreement is the subject of a $9.6 billion awarded against Nigeria in August by a London arbitration panel.

Taiga’s arraignment on Friday came on the heels of Thursday’s order of an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, given by Justice Inyang Ekwo, who ordered the forfeiture of P&ID assets as well as winding up of its activities and those of its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria.

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The two firms were convicted by the court following the guilty plea after their arraignment by EFCC before the court on an 11-count charge bordering on economic sabotage, money laundering, tax evasion, among others.

The former director was arraigned before Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, sitting at Apo, Abuja, on an eight-count charge bordering on bribery, among others.

She was accuses of receiving bribe through her offshore bank account in signing the controversial gas supply processing agreement.

The EFCC alleged that Taiga violated various laws by entering into the controversial GSPA without a prior approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and a certificate of no-objection to the contract from the Bureau of Public Enterprise (PBE).

The defendant was alleged to have signed as Nigeria’s witness to the GSPA while the then Minister of Petroleum,  the late Alhaji Rilwan Lukman, signed as Nigeria’s representative.

She, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against her by EFCC.

Following her not guilty plea, her counsel, Ola Olanipekun SAN, urged the court to remand Taiga in EFCC custody pending when her bail application would be heard.

The senior advocate informed the court that the defendant was suffering from hypertension and diabetes.

The defendant’s counsel’s request was, however,  objected by the prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, who argued that the proper place to remand a defendant whose plea had been taken was prison custody.

In a bench ruling, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, ordered that the defendant be remanded in Suleja prison in Niger State pending hearing and determination of her bail application.

The judge then directed that Taiga should be given due medical treatment while she is in custody.

Justice Adeniyi, therefore, adjourned the case till September 25 for the hearing of her bail application. A British Commercial Court awarded judgment of $9.6 billion against Nigeria on August 16 in favour of P&ID over a failed contract between the company and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010. The court further gave approval for the seizure of foreign assets belonging to Nigeria to the tune of the judgment sum.

The Federal Government has consistently maintained that the alleged gas supply contract agreement was skewed deliberately to fail with a view to benefitting a syndicate out to extort the country.

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