The Federal Government has ordered a high powered probe of the controversial gas project contract that attracted a huge damage of $9 billion. The probe is to be jointly conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the National Intelligence Agency and the Inspector General of Police.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed disclosed this at a joint press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, joined at the press conference was the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zaynab Ahmed; and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
he said the Federal Government was challenging the UK court’s $9.6bn judgment in a United States of America’s court in order to protect the country’s interest and its assets.
The minister said the President’s decision to probe the firm and its activities was based on the fact that the Federal Government suspected foul play in the contract which was negotiated and signed under the past administration in 2010.
He said, “We want to place on record that the Federal Government views with serious concerns the underhanded 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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the National Intelligence Agency 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.”
Mohammed, however, said despite the court judgment, Nigeria was not about to lose any of its assets.
He added, “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. 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 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 the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Nigerians should be assured that the Federal Government will strongly avail itself of all defences customarily afforded to sovereign states under the United Kingdom Sovereign Immunity Act to stave off any enforcement of the award.”
Giving a background to the judgment, Mohammed said it was the fallout of the contract purportedly entered into in 2010 between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the P&ID.
He noted that in the 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement purportedly entered into with the P&ID in 2010, the company never performed as agreed, therefore necessitating the case going to arbitration.