P&ID contract is ‘scam’, says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday said the Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) contract with the Nigerian government was a "scam" aimed at cheating the country of "billions of dollars".
Buhari spoke at the General Assembly of the United Nations, making this the first time the Nigerian leader will speak about the issue publicly.
“We are giving notice to international criminal groups by the vigorous prosecution of the P&ID scam attempting to cheat Nigeria of billions of dollars,” Buhari said.
Media reports quoted government officials as saying the contract was signed while late president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was critically ill and Goodluck Jonathan was acting president. Jonathan has since denied any knowledge of the contract.
The deal, a 20-year gas contract, was to build and operate a plant to refine natural gas into “lean gas” in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The gas was being flared in the Niger Delta and the Nigerian government thought it was good business to have a company convert some of that wasted, poisonous gas into electricity in the face of Nigeria’s perennial power woes.
The contract also stated that the government would install the necessary pipelines and infrastructure and receive the lean gas free of charge to power Nigeria’s fragile national grid, the company said.
The company, according to a report by Bloomberg, was registered in the British Virgin Islands but had no website or track record. Its chairman was Michael “Mick” Quinn, a 68-year-old Irishman with a rakish moustache and decades of experience in Nigeria, mostly as a military contractor.
In a blog post on a website suspected to be operated by pro-P&ID entities pandidfacts.com it was claimed the Nigerian government had failed to meet its commitments, causing the project to flounder.
“This meant Nigeria would lose the opportunity of a new power supply, and P&ID would lose 20 years’ worth of profits,” it said, adding that it attempted to find solutions but “Nigeria refused to come to the table” hence the arbitration that commenced in 2012 before a tribunal in London.
“Although during the arbitration Nigeria claimed to be interested in reaching an amicable settlement with P&ID, in fact Nigeria never made a serious offer and it became clear that Nigeria was attending settlement discussions only to delay the proceedings.
In August of 2019, P&ID won its case against Nigeria. Initially awarded for $6.6 billion, the contract sum would later rise to $9.6 billion due to accrued interest since 2013.
However, on September 19, 2019, a Federal High Court in Abuja convicted two of P&ID representatives in Nigeria of charges bordering on money laundering, abuse of office and economic sabotage.
The court also ordered P&ID to forfeit all its assets to the Nigerian government.
The company representatives had pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and other charges.
Attorney-General Abubakar Malami says the contract was signed with no clear terms and conditions and that it “was engineered to fail” and defraud Nigeria, a claim reechoed by President Buhari on Tuesday.
The company, however, called the judgment a “sham” and a clear case of intimidation by the state. It said none of the individuals convicted are current employees. The firm also stated that it hasn’t received communication from
Nigerian authorities about the investigations.
The company said it will continue its efforts to identify and seize Nigerian assets to recover its money.
On Thursday, September 26, 2019, a Nigerian government delegation will head to the UK to persuade a British court
to set aside an order permitting P&ID to seize $9.6 billion worth of assets from Nigeria, since the cash equivalent is not forthcoming.
The Nigerian government delegation will include the Attorney General, Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele and Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu.
This is “about not allowing a case based on fraudulence to proceed,” Malami was quoted as saying by the New York Times. CBN Chief has warned of “advanced consequences for the Nigerian economy” if P&ID is allowed to seize Nigeria’s assets
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