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Government probes N2.9tr gas deal fine by UK court

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Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN)

•Minister warns oil firms against sale of national assets
•NNPC moves to return to profitability

The Federal Government yesterday said it had raised a joint panel to probe the $9.6 billion (N.2.946 trillion) fine imposed by a United Kingdom court on the country for allegedly defaulting in a gas supply contract believed to be sealed in 2010.

The inquiry, to be conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Inspector General of Police, is to review the entire process leading to the award and failure of the deal.

Specifically, the team is to unravel how and why the agreement between the nation and a foreign firm, Process and Industrial Development Limited, failed and the roles played by local and international parties in the botched project.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who dropped the hint at a news conference attended by his Justice and Finance counterparts, Abubakar Malami, Zainab Ahmed, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

Mohammed said based on the 20-year gas supply deal, the foreign company filed for compensation in both the United States and the United Kingdom against Nigeria, resulting in last week’s granting of $9.6 billion award to the company.

According to him, government was concerned about the whole circumstances that “smack of an attempt by some individuals to rip off Nigeria.”

He emphasized that the country was not prepared to pay the huge fine, adding that it would not lose any of its assets to P&ID in the United Kingdom.

Contributing, Malami said government was convinced that the entire project was designed by the local and international conspirators to fail from inception and pave way for some elements to make quick gains off Nigeria.

On his part, Emefiele noted that the name of the firm was not found in any of the apex bank’s books as having brought in any tools or equipment for purposes of investing or establishing any projects or programmes in the country.

Ahmed, however, observed that the fine was capable of affecting the economy and causing untold hardship in the land.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, yesterday stated that some international oil companies (IOCs) were selling assets belonging to the country.

Receiving officials of Total Exploration and Production Nigeria companies in Abuja, the minister warned against the act.

Besides, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, has said the national oil firm would drastically improve oil revenue generation in an attempt to return to profitability.

Speaking during an engagement with key stakeholders in the sector, he reiterated the need to grow the nation’s oil production and reserve to 40 billion barrels.

Kyari said the corporation would prioritise transparency and accountability in its dealings with stakeholders.


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