As the process of repudiating the $9.6bn arbitral award against the country gathers steam over “a fraudulent contract with Process and Industrial Development (P & ID) this week,” the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has urged Nigerians to trust in the ability of President Muhammadu Buhari administration to stave off the largest financial liability in Nigeria’s history.
In a statement on Monday, the group says it’s optimism is based on the manner the government “is painstakingly making efforts to show that the 2010 deal that led to the verdict was built on fraud and deceit.”
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, that the court processes that unfolded in Abuja on Thursday and Friday last week are bound to go a long way in proving Nigeria’s case when the matter comes up in the United Kingdom on September 26.
“Nigerians saw how the Commercial Director of the British Virgin Island-registered company and a director of its Nigerian affiliate pleaded guilty to an 11-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence; dealing in petroleum products without appropriate licence; tax evasion, money laundering and failure to register P&ID with EFCC’s Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) as required by law
“The FCT High Court sitting in Abuja has since convicted the company and also ordered its liquidation, while all its assets are to be forfeited to the Federal Government.
“Another leg of the judicial process is the on-going trial of the then Director of Legal Services at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Grace Taiga who, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), made ‘a false statement in Paragraph 8(g) of the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) which gave undue advantage to the shell company in exchange for over $20,000 in bribe.
“We are elated that the recent meeting between Vice President Yemi Osibanjo (SAN) with all the top lawyers in the Federal cabinet, including the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, Minister for Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola and Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs Festus Keyamo,led to a creative way of digging Nigeria out of the mess that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) plunged the country into, nineteen years ago.
“Just like the Attorney General had said after EFCC had secured the conviction of the company, we are convinced that Nigeria now has a cogent ground for setting aside the liability with the judicial proof of fraud.
“It was als
o encouraging to see media reports quoting one of the country’s best legal minds as saying that ‘once the judgment obtained from Abuja High Court is registered abroad, it can be executed against P&ID. What Nigeria has to do now, is to quickly apply to have that judgment set aside on the basis of monumental fraud’.
“Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), was also quoted to have said that the fact that ‘they have admitted that they did not even acquire any land in Calabar for the project in the first place shows that the entire project was a package of fraud ab initio’”. The group therefore urged Nigerians to be expectant of good news as the government delegation travels to the United Kingdom for a preparatory meeting with a legal consortium ahead of the case.
“We have no doubt that the Nigerian authorities are on track by refusing to be blackmailed to negotiate a pay-off for a contract that was designed to fail from the beginning.
“And like we said in a previous statement, this is the time the citizenry needs to be supportive of efforts to set aside a judgment debt that if enforced could see Nigeria lose its prized assets to a shadowy company set up by foreigners and their local collaborators with the intention of defrauding the country.
“We are once again reaffirming that it was an intentional act of fraud by a portfolio company against the Nigerian state which has now been proved in court to have been built on deceit, money laundering, bribery and all forms of criminality’, BMO added.
The group also urged the EFCC not to relent in its efforts to ensure that all government officials, serving or retired, involved in the controversial deal are made to face the wraith of the law in such a way that a clear signal would be sent to others who may be nursing such an idea.