$9bn judgment debt: FG reacts to Daily Times story as Buhari directs EFCC, NIA, IG to probe contract


Our correspondent

Following Daily Times investigative report on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Inspector General of Police to conduct a thorough investigation into how Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) arrived at a whopping $9.6 billion judgment debt against Nigeria.

Daily Times had on Monday carried a lead story with the title, ‘$9billion Judgment Sum a Fraud?” which exposed many top government functionaries from different past administrations that were involved in the oversight that led to the debt judgment.

In reaction to Daily Times story, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Tuesday disclosed at a press conference in Abuja that the President has directed that investigation be carried out on how the award of the contract to P&ID was awarded, adding that the federal government suspects foul play in the whole contract which was signed in 2010 by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, late Dr. Rilwan Lukman during the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

The minister declared that “we want to place on record that the federal government views with serious concern the underhand manner in which the contract was negotiated and signed.

“Indications are that the whole process was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration, which apparently colluded with their local and international conspirators to inflict grave economic injury on Nigeria and its people.

“In view of the above and in an attempt to unravel the circumstances surrounding the entire transaction, the attorney general of the federation, with the approval of Mr. President, has requested the EFCC, the NIA and the inspector general of police to conduct a thorough investigation into the company, the circumstances surrounding the agreement and the subsequent event, which includes commencing a full-scale criminal investigation.”

However, the minister said despite the court judgment, Nigeria is not about to lose any of its assets, adding that “despite the recent recognition of the award by a UK court and contrary to some reports, Nigeria is not about to lose any of its assets to P&ID. There is no imminent threat to Nigeria’s assets.

“In the first instance, the enforcement of the award cannot even commence now because the judge in the UK court ordered that the P&ID cannot enforce the judgment against Nigeria until after the court resumes from its current vacation.

“What this means is that enforcement action cannot begin until a further hearing on the matter, which will take place on a date to be determined by the court upon its resumption.

“The federal government therefore, wishes to use this opportunity to assure Nigerians that there is no immediate threat to Nigeria’s assets as has been wrongly interpreted by a section of the media.

“Nigerians should be assured that the federal government is taking all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the UK court, to seek for a stay of execution of the decision, to defend its rights and to protect the assets of the people of Nigeria.”

The press conference was addressed by the information minister in conjunction with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

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