The Federal High Court has convicted the suspects arraigned on allegations of fraudulent involvement in the 2010 contract between the Nigerian government and an Irish firm, the Process and Industrial Development (P&ID).
The court also ordered the firm to forfeit all its assets to the Nigerian government.
The court gave its ruling after the suspects on Thursday pleaded guilty to an 11-count charge filed by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.
The suspects are Muhammad Kuchazi, said to be a commercial director with P&ID incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and Adamu Usman, who was described as a director of the firm in Nigeria. Both accused represented their firms, the court ruled.
Following the details recommended by the EFCC, the court convicted Mr Usman for the offences mentioned in the 11 counts while Mr Kuchazi was convicted based on the offences in the first ten counts which had his name.
The charges, read out in court, related to money laundering, abuse of office and economic sabotage.
Deciding on the matter after the guilty plea, the judge said he had taken note of the guilty plea and the pieces of evidence tagged exhibits PW1a and PW1b.
He then convicted the accused based on the plea taken.
The lawyer representing the EFCC, Bala Sanga, argued that “where a corporate body is convicted of an offence, the court may order that all its assets be forfeited.”
The judge, Edward Ekwo, then asked why the EFCC failed to file its charge pursuant to Section 54 of the Company and Allied Matters Act.
Mr Ekwo said the punishment to be given to the convicts, who had legal representation in court, is contained in the Advance Fee Fraud Act and the Money Laundering Act.
“An order is hereby made that the assets of Process and Industrial Development company be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the judge ruled.
“An order is hereby made for the second convict to be round up and his properties and assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The judge said the orders would be entered as the judgement of the court.
The EFCC commenced an investigation into the contract between Nigeria and P&ID following a British court ruling that Nigeria owed the Irish firm about $9 billion for violating terms of the contract.
The contract for gas supply and processing (GSPA) was signed by the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and P&ID.
The company was to build gas processing facilities around Calabar, Cross River State, and the government was to supply wet gas up to 400 million standard cubic feet per day. The agreement defined wet gas as “associated gas removed, during oil production, having a propane content of not less than 3.5 mol per cent and a butane content of not less than 1.8 mol content, compressed and delivered via pipeline to the site.”
In turn, the company “shall operate and maintain the GPFs (gas processing facilities) on a professional basis to ensure a regular supply of Lean Gas (approximately 340 MMSCuFD) for power generation.” Lean gas, defined as “pipeline quality gas having a composition of not less than 95 mol per cent of methane and ethane,” was what the government was to take after supplying wet gas for processing by the company.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the agreement was designed to fail as key elements necessary for its success was missing.
A three-member arbitration panel that reviewed the contract had ruled against Nigeria and ordered the government to pay the firm $6.6 billion as damages.
A British court last month ruled against Nigeria’s objection to the 2017 arbitration.
The money with interest has now accumulated to about $9 billion (approximately N3.24 trillion), over one-third of Nigeria’s 2019 budget.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Butcher of The High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.
Nigeria has since condemned the ruling and said it suspects that various officials involved in the negotiations did so for pecuniary reasons.
Thursday’s ruling is expected to give Nigeria a stronger bargaining chip in any negotiations with P&ID or in any related trial outside Nigeria.
Source: Premium Times
Photo News from ongoing Russian-African Summit in Sochi, Russia,
In a bid to support the nation’s economic drive, the Management of Heritage Bank Plc joined other Corporates and government agencies to brainstorm on the way forward for the African continents.
R-L: Wale Tinubu, Group Chief Executive, Oando Plc; Timi Alaibe, Non-Executive Director, Heritage Bank Plc; Chris Oshiafi, Group Managing Director of Pan African Capital Holdings; Ifie Sekibo, MD/CEO, Heritage Bank and Demetrios Halios, President/CEO of Halios Capital, at the ongoing Russian-African Summit in Sochi, Russia, yesterday.
LEKKI SEAPORT: CHINESE INVESTOR INJECTS $629 MILLION TO COMPLETE PROJECT
…Sanwo-Olu Witnesses Agreement Signing, Says Development A Major Milestone
In 30 months, Nigeria’s first deep seaport will be delivered in Lekki – a coastal community in the nation’s commercial nerve-centre – Lagos State.
On Wednesday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu witnessed the signing of four agreements with China Development Bank (CDB), including $629 million financing facility, to accelerate the completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport project, which started in 2011.
The loan was secured from the Chinese bank after China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), which owns majority shares in the project, signed a 45-year concessionary agreement with Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLTZ) to complete the Phase 1 of the deep seaport project.
After completion, the deep seaport would have two container berths of 680-metre long and 16.5-metre water depth. It will also have the capacity to be berthed by fifth generation container ships, which has a capacity of 18,000 TEU ship.
Governor Sanwo-Olu described the development as “another milestone” for the State in infrastructural development and commerce, saying the signing of the agreements ended period of uncertainty that had trailed the delivery of the project. He noted that the completion of the project would invigorate the Lagos economy and push it up in the index of largest economy in the world.
He said: “This is a new beginning for us in Lagos. We have achieved another milestone in our efforts to transform the State and accomplish the 21st century economy ambition. As a Government, we are fully in support of the project. We will do all we can to ensure the terms of the agreements signed today are delivered within 30 months as agreed and we expect the outcome would catalyse Lagos’ fifth largest economy and take it up more in the index of largest economies in years to come.”
In the coming weeks, the Governor said more trade agreements would be signed with foreign investors, adding that his administration would continue to explore investments and partnerships that would accelerate growth and benefit residents of the State.
Chairman of Lekki Port Board of Director, Mr. Biodun Dabiri, noted that the development of the seaport was strategic for the growth of Lekki Free Trade Zone, pointing out that it would make “immense impact” on the nation’s economy by creating more than 200,000 jobs and generating about $350 billion in revenue for the State over the period of the concession.
He said: “The loan facility represents a significant milestone, which when combined with foreign direct investment of $230 million through equity injection by CHEC, will ensure a successful delivery of the seaport and reposition Nigeria as the transshipment hub in sub-Saharan Africa upon the conclusion of the second phase.
“The project is strategic for the economic growth of Lekki Free Zone, as it would support the massive industrial and petrochemical complex being embarked on in the Northern and Southern quadrant of the zone with investment over the next three years peaking at over $20 billion.
With Lekki Airport in view, there will be an emergence of a Harbour City which would be internationally connected by air and also with world-class integrated transport network of roads, rail and bridges.”
Dabiri said the concessionary agreements had the support of both the Federal and the Lagos governments, observing that the investors agreed with the terms and conditions laid down by the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and Lekki Worldwide Investment.
CHEC Chairman, Mr. Lin Yichong, said the Chinese engineering firm took interest to invest in the deep seaport to enable Nigeria strengthen its maritime infrastructure and business by building the first deep seaport that would ease of pressure at Tin Can Island and Apapa ports.
The Phase 1 of the project, Yichong said, will be built with annual handling capacity of 1.2 million TEU, adding that the capacity would be increased to 2.5 million TEU upon the completion of the second phase.
He said: “After the completion of the Lekki port, it would become the first deep seaport in Nigeria and the container transportation hub in Africa. It would also release big pressure off Apapa and Tin Can Island ports. In the course of the construction of the project, it is expected that a huge number of employment opportunities would be generated for residents of Lagos.”
CDB Deputy General Manager, Mr. Zhang Aijun, said the bank approved the loan facility, given the strategic importance of the project to Lagos’ economic growth. He said the bank considered the investment as basis for expanding its business in Nigerian and contributing to the development of the nation.
Managing Director of Tolaram Group in Africa, Mr Haresh Aswani, hailed Lagos Government for supporting the project since the beginning, adding that the completion of the deep seaport would change narrative of foreign partnerships with the government of Nigeria.
The highpoint was the signing of the four agreements, which was witnessed by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, Consul General of Chinese Embassy in Lagos, Mr. Chu Maoming, and representatives of key stakeholders in the project.
Other agreements signed by the CDB, CHEC and LPLEL include Completion Agreement, Sponsor Support Agreement and Tripartite Keep Well Agreement.
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