The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Sunday said those named to have taken bribes in relation to the $10bn judgment obtained by the British Virgin Islands firm, Process and Industrial Development, against Nigeria, were being investigated.
Malami, who said this while featuring on Channels Television’s programme, Sunday Politics, also said some of them were being prosecuted. He put the figure of the bribes involved in the controversial P&ID contract at about $301m.
Also his spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu, had earlier in his response to an inquiry by The PUNCH on Sunday, said all those who collected bribes were being investigated.
A United Kingdom court had, in a landmark judgment, on Friday, granted the Federal Government permission to challenge the final arbitral award delivered by a London arbitration tribunal in favour of P&ID and against Nigeria in January 2017.
The award which stood at $9.6bn as of 2019 has risen to $10bn.
The tribunal had held Nigeria liable for the alleged breach of a Gas Supply Processing Agreement it entered into with the P&ID in 2010.
But the Nigerian government had approached the UK court requesting an extension of time within which to challenge the final arbitral award on the basis that the GSPA and the award were tainted by fraud.
Justice Ross Cranston of the High Court of Queen’s Bench Division of Commercial Court in London, in granting Nigeria’s request on Friday, agreed that there was prima facie case of fraud in the agreements leading to the award which should be inquired into.
The judge named a former Director, Legal Services of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Grace Taiga, as one of those who were allegedly bribed by the promoters of the P&ID to prepare a faulty agreement against Nigeria’s interest.
He also named others whom sources of payments to their bank accounts Nigeria had yet to identify their sources.
Taiga is already being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Apo, Abuja, for receiving bribe through an offshore bank account.
In an SMS sent to one of our correspondents on Sunday, Gwandu said all the named persons “are all under investigation”, while another of the cases “is before the court for determination.”
In the interview on Channels TV, Malami said, “As much as I wouldn’t want to be pre-emptive, the fact still remains that at the local level, some of the principal characters were being investigated, and some were not only investigated but were arraigned and then there were certain convictions recorded.
“Within the official cycles of government, some have retired, and they are being alleged to have been involved in under-hand dealing as it relates to within the region of $301m.
“There were arraignments, there were convictions and indeed, monies were established to change hands as a basis for inducement that eventually resulted into compromises on processes, compromises on the procedure and then, failure on the part of the officials of government to do the needful in terms of ensuring that the interest of the nation is protected.
“The due diligence relating to P&ID was not adequately undertaken as at the time of signing the agreement, but arising from the investigation, we have taken time to conduct and expand our investigative capacity to other jurisdiction inclusive of the US and there is nothing establishing greater financial strength capacity on the part of P&ID right from the onset either in Nigeria and the Virgin Island,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mr Wahab Shittu, the lawyer to the suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, said in a statement on Sunday that the Friday’s judgment of the UK court came as victory to Magu.
Shittu said, the decision of the English court “again shows the result of a detailed and thorough investigation done by the EFCC led by Mr. Magu”.
Magu was suspended after a panel set up to investigate alleged corruption and insubordination leveled against him by the AGF.
The UK court had in its Friday’s judgment acknowledged a letter by Malami to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), accusing Magu of not acting promptly to investigate the P&ID saga.
But the UK court judgment had relied on the findings of EFCC’s investigations to hold that the GSPA was tainted by fraud.