Ex-minister, Lukman, signed controversial agreement with P&ID, witness tells court

An official of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday told FCT High Court Apo, that former Minister of Petroleum Resources, late Dr Rilwanu Lukman signed the controversial Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) between the Federal Government and Process and Industrial Development (P&ID).

The controversial GSPA is the subject of the $9.6 billion damages awarded against Nigeria by a London arbitration panel in August 2019, which the Federal Government is making moves to vacate.

The witness, Umar Babangida, stated this while being cross-examined by Ola Olanipekun, SAN, in the trial of Mrs Grace Taiga, a former Director, Legal Services Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Taiga was arraigned by the EFCC over her alleged involvement in the signing of the controversial gas supply contract between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Irish firm, P&ID.

She was accused of receiving a bribe to the tune of 11, 000 dollars through her offshore bank account in signing the GSPA in January 2010.

EFCC also accused her of violating various laws by entering into the GSPA without prior approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and a certificate of no objection from the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).

She was alleged to have also signed the agreement as Nigeria’s witness to the GSPA, while the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Lukman (now late) signed for Nigeria.

The former top government official, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against her.

Testifying, Babangida said, the EFCC investigators did not investigate the late minister because he is dead.

He, however, stated that the late former minister had vast experience spanning many years in the ministry.

According to the witness, the late minister was the chief executive of the ministry by the virtue of being the minister in charge.

The late Lukman, Babangida stated, had many assistants who helped him pilot the affairs of the ministry when he was in charge.

He added that the late minister set up a large technical committee for the gas supply project.

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“We did not investigate the experience of Dr (Rilwanu) Lukman because he is not alive.

“He set up a large technical committee for this project.

“It was the same Dr Lukman who signed the GSPA in the presence of the defendant (Taiga),” the PW2 told the court.

He told the court that Taiga was a witness to the signing of the agreement, adding that, “she signed as a witness.”

Babangida told the court that the defendant overstayed her term in office.

He added that she told EFCC that it was approved by former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Muhammed Bello Adoke, SAN.

“The defendant overstayed her tenure in office. I investigated it. She said Mr Adoke asked her to stay behind and Mr Adoke denied saying so,” he said.

The witness stated that during the period the defendant overstayed in office, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was making payments, including duty tour allowances, purchase of stationeries, among others, to her.

He, however, acknowledged the fact that there were certain circumstances that could lead a public officer to overstay in office.

The witness added that in the course of the investigation, it was found that the controversial GSPA was supposed to be forwarded to the Infrastructure and Concession Regulatory Commission by the Petroleum Resources.

The judge, Justice Olakayode Adeniyi, after an application for adjournment by Olanipekun, adjourned until March 31 and April 9 continuation of cross-examination. (NAN )

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