GRACE Taiga, a former director of legal services at Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources was on Friday remanded in Suleja Prison, Niger State for her alleged involvement in the controversial P & ID scandal.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Tiaga before the Abuja Federal High Court on an eight-count charge of fraud among other financial improprieties.
Investigations carried out by the anti-graft agency revealed that Tiaga had allegedly received bribes to the tune of $20,000 to ensure that the gas supply and processing agreement between Nigeria and P&ID was successful.
At the hearing, the presiding judge, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, allowed the charges to be read to her.
“That you, Process and Industrial Developments Limited being a company incorporated in the British Virgin Island (convicted), Michael Quinn (deceased), Brendan Cahill (at large), Neil Hitchcock (deceased), and Grace Taiga on or about the 11th January, 2010 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud made a false statement in paragraph 8 (g) of the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (“GSPA”) to wit:
“The parties are aware that the 24inch Adanga pipeline presently under construction from the Addax operated OML 123 directly to Calabar and due for completion in 2010 which part of the said agreement you knew to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 362 (a) of the Penal Code Law and punishable under section 364 of the same law,” one of the counts reads.
The defendant pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when it was read to her.
However, Justice Adeniyi remanded her in prison until September 25 when her bail application will be heard.
Taiga’s ordeal is coming a day after a Federal High Court in Abuja convicted two representatives of P&ID for their role in the failed contract while the court also ordered the forfeiture of assets linked to P&ID to the government over tax evasion.
The EFCC has accused Taiga and Rilwan Lukman, a late former Minister of Petroleum Resources of violating the law and awarding the contract without the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) or recourse to the provisions of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.