$9bn judgment debt: Buhari directs EFCC, NIA, IGP to probe contract
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the inspector General of Police to conduct a thorough investigation into the botched contract with Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) which was recently asked by a UK court to seize $9.6 billion worth of Nigerian assets.
Buhari’s action is coming on the heels of the Daily Times front page report of August 26, in which the newspaper described the $9 billion judgment debt awarded against the country by the British Commercial Court in favour of the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) as “a fraud.”
In the report, Nigerians while reacting to the judgment, questioned the fairness and sincerity of the gas supply and processing agreement entered into by the Federal Government with P&ID during the tenure of late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
The newspaper further stated in the report that the gas agreement was a scam orchestrated by some foreign nationals to defraud the Nigeria and tasked the Buhari administration to unravel the roles played by past presidents, former ministers of petroleum resources and their counterparts in the justice ministry.
The public outcry follows Nigeria’s failure to stop the $9 billion judgment debt awarded in favour of P&ID against the Federal Government by an arbitration panel chaired by 85 -year -old British judge, Lord Hoffmann, which implementation is enough to technically render Nigeria bankrupt.
Announcing the Federal Government’s position on Tuesday at a press conference in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the decision by Buhari to investigate the award of the contract is based on the fact that the Federal Government suspects foul play in the contract award which was negotiated and signed in 2010.
The minister declared that “we want to place on record that the Federal Government views with serious concern the underhand manner in which the contract was negotiated and signed.
“Indications are that the whole process was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration, which apparently colluded with their local and international conspirators to inflict grave economic injury on Nigeria and its people.
“In view of the above and in an attempt to unravel the circumstances surrounding the entire transaction, the attorney general of the federation, with the approval of Mr. President, has requested the EFCC, the NIA and the inspector general of police to conduct a thorough investigation into the company, the circumstances surrounding the agreement and the subsequent event, which includes commencing a full-scale criminal investigation.”
However, the minister said despite the court judgement, Nigeria is not about to lose any of its assets, adding that “despite the recent recognition of the award by a UK court and contrary to some reports, Nigeria is not about to lose any of its assets to P&ID, adding “there is no imminent threat to Nigeria’s assets”.
“In the first instance, the enforcement of the award cannot even commence now because the judge in the UK court ordered that the P&ID cannot enforce the judgment against Nigeria until after the court resumes from its current vacation.
“What this means is that enforcement action cannot begin until a further hearing on the matter, which will take place on a date to be determined by the court upon its resumption.
“The Federal Government therefore, wishes to use this opportunity to assure Nigerians that there is no immediate threat to Nigeria’s assets as has been wrongly interpreted by a section of the media.
“Nigerians should be assured that the Federal Government is taking all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the UK court, to seek for a stay of execution of the decision, to defend its rights and to protect the assets of the people of Nigeria,” the minister stated.
The press conference was addressed by the Information minister in conjunction with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
Also speaking, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) said that the preliminary investigations revealed that the contract from conception was bound to fail because of deliberate inherent elements designed into it.
“I want to draw attention first to the composition of parties in the agreements which are the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources (FMPR) and the company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID).
“As you rightly know, the federal ministry of petroleum resources is not a producer of gas.
“Gas products are produced by International Oil Companies (IOC) and NNPC.
“When you conceive, sign and execute a contract for the supply of gas products without involving the IOC and NNPC as parties to the agreement, you know very well that there are lot of questions to answer rising from the conception of the contract.
“This, among others, gave rise to the insinuation of fraudulent conspiracies right from the conception of the agreement.
“The fact remains that you cannot sign an agreement to provide a product that you do not have.
“The ministry does not have oil field and gas products but it went ahead to sign the agreement without involving those that are producers of gas products,’’ he said.
He said the country, through the contract, was subjected to unnecessary economic sabotage and investigation would unravel those involved in the deal.
Corroborating Malami’s position, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said the claim by P&ID that it spent 40 million dollars on the botched contract was not correct.
“We have heard that the contractors in this case claimed that they spent 40 million dollars in the project.
“On our part in CBN, we know that as a foreign company, if you are investing in a contract or project in Nigeria, there are various options that you adopt.
“If you are bringing in machines into the country to execute a contract, you must fill certain forms and pay some money through the CBN.
Emefiele said “we have gone through our records but we do not have any information to show that the company brought in one cent into the country for the purported project.
“We have accordingly written to the EFCC and other agencies investigating the case.
“Time has come that Nigerians should rise against those who claim to do business in Nigeria without investing a penny in the country but all with an intention to defraud the country.
“The money they are plotting to take belongs to all of us,’’ he said.
The Finance minister on her part said the case was weighty considering the fact that the awarded 9.6 billion dollar is equivalent to N3.5 trillion.
“N3.5 trillion in our national budget will be covering for us recurrent votes if not more.
“Apart from being exorbitant, it is unfair and an assault to every Nigerian,’’ she said.
According to Ahmed, every Nigerian must come together to ensure that the judgment is set aside because the consequences will affect everyone.
How can u seize such amount of assets belonging to another country's citizens. It's a bad idea
That not right at all Buhari should act on that very fast
Good job my president
The EFCC must work harder and recover all our money.
Too much money oo
Good one is too late
That's is good and fine sir kindly keep it up
may God help Mr. President
I love this
I will be waiting to hear the report of EFCC and other ancillary agencies on this matter.