P&ID: DSS, NIA excluded from conducting background checks on UK firm – Malami
Vows those who worked against Nigeria’s interest would be prosecuted
NEW revelations emerged on Tuesday that the Department of State Security (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) were excluded from conducting a proper background check on the British engineering firm – Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) before it entered a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with the Nigerian Government.
Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice disclosed this during a regular morning broadcast tagged “Good Morning Nigeria” aired on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Tuesday morning.
He appeared on the television programme alongside Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture to give insight on the proceeding from which the nation got a major ruling.
Malami had recently returned from the United Kingdom (UK) where his ministry along other partners helped the nation secure a favourable ruling for an extension of time and relief from sanction earlier sought by the P&ID against the Nigerian Government for defaulting in the Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA).
The Royal Courts of Justice, London, in the case presided by Justice Sir Ross Cranston had on Friday acknowledged new evidence presented by the defendant where Nigeria accused P&ID of flawed contract award, bribery among other irregularities.
“In my view there is a strong prima facie case that the GSPA was procured by bribery,” the presiding judge stated, stressing that offering cash benefits to “public officials from individuals holding or seeking to obtain a contract are assumed to be bribes” under the laws of both Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
But Malami vowed that those found guilty directly or otherwise would be duly prosecuted.
He explained that in situations where the country plan to engage in a PPP business model of great economic interest, due diligence should be observed.
The Minister noted that agencies of government with supports from their foreign partners should have conducted background checks on the investor to probe the investor’s antecedents.
The International Police (INTERPOL) and the local police authorities, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) among others, he said should have participated in the verification process.
He further stressed that the credibility, years of existence, capacity of the firm to deliver on the proposed project and other track records should have been a major check before finalising the deal.
However, he said the listed agencies were excluded from the fact-finding exercise until the case against Nigeria emerged.
“We expected that traditionally, they should provide due diligence or assist the government in arriving at a decision one way or the other but the implication of what unfolded is that all these agencies were in no way involved,” Malami said.
“And if you have to approach the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the purpose of approval, it is only logical that the contract of that magnitude must pass through the procurement process and the Bureau for Public Procurement is equally saddled with the responsibilities of conducting a due diligence and providing the FEC with a due diligence report.”
Though, in March 2017, Malami had proposed some recommendations to Yemi Osinbajo, the Acting President at the time, including reasonable but failed settlements such as a forensic probe of the original contract, he also directed the EFCC to investigate the P&ID.
He disclosed that investigation was still ongoing on the case.
“I can certainly state that the possibility of multiple and unaccountable prosecutions is there,” Malami added.
The ICIR had earlier reported via an obtained document how Olasupo Shasore, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) allegedly worked against Nigeria’s interest in the case.
The document revealed how the former Attorney General of Lagos State reportedly deceived the country despite receiving a legal fee of $2 million for arbitration.
It could be recalled that P&ID on January 11, 2010, signed a gas supply and processing deal with the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources. While Nigeria was to source for natural Gas from Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 123 and 67 managed by Addax Petroleum, P&ID was to construct an Accelerated Gas Development project expected to boost the nation’s power generation.
“P&ID was eager to deliver this promising project in the hope of bringing electricity to millions and helping Nigeria reach its full potential. Unfortunately, the government did not uphold its side of the contract, so the project failed. Having been unable to find a willing partner in government to resolve the matter forced us to seek remediation for the repudiation of our contract, which has resulted in an arbitration award against Nigeria,” Brenda Cahill had argued.