TALKING POINT: Nigerian Government To Investigate Goodluck Jonathan And Others lnvolved ln The Controversial $10billion P& lD Contracts

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The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on Monday announced that the Federal Government will investigate former President Goodluck Jonathan, officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and others involved in the controversial $10 billion P& ID contracts.

At a meeting with the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Affairs chaired by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, the Attorney General said the lack of transparency in the award of the contracts could undermine the country’ s economy and deprive Nigeria of $10 billion.

Presenting a 2022 budget proposal of 11. 82 billion naira for the Ministry of Justice, Malami accused the previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan of failing to follow due process as he revealed that the government had prevented the Federal Executive Council (FEC) from scrutinising the deal.

” On the issue raised by Distinguished Senator Bala Na’ Allah, as you rightly observed, these are the components that will provide solutions to the issues raised. It is the Taskforce that is intended to review the existing problematic contracts that have the capacity to undermine the economy in line with the P & ID; a kind of lesson and experience.

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There are two major departments in the Attorney General’ s Office that deal with procurement. The Attorney General’ s Office is responsible for reviewing all government contracts and over time has lived up to expectations.

The Contract Contain A Clause That ls Against The lnterest Of The Nation, Malami Alleges

. However, the biggest problem with P & ID is that the contract was never allowed to go through the Attorney General’ s office to be forgotten. For this reason, the contract contains a clause that is against the interest of the nation. Due to the fact that there is a preliminary conspiracy between the main promoters of the contract, the contract was never allowed to pass through the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval, nor was it allowed to pass through the Federal Ministry of Justice for review, ” he explained.

In 2010, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources signed a contract to build and operate a new gas processing plant with P& ID, a British Virgin Islands- based company.

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The contract provided that Nigeria would supply the P& ID plant with natural gas (” wet gas” ) free of charge. In return, P& ID was to build and operate the plant, process the gas to produce natural gas liquids (which P& ID was entitled to do) and return the lean gas free of charge to Nigeria to be used for power generation and other purposes.

In August 2012, P& ID sued the federal government, alleging that Nigeria had abandoned the contract, adding that it (P& ID) had been prepared to fulfil its contractual obligations and that the project had failed because Nigeria had not fulfilled its part of the bargain.

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As a result, the court awarded P& ID $6. 6 billion in damages in 2017, which was later increased to $8. 9 billion, with a further $2. 3 billion in interest accruing at 7% per annum, because the federal government refused to provide redress for more than five years.

The AGF also revealed that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was planning eight more similar settlements, claiming that ” In respect of P& ID, there were about nine contracts that were signed at the same time in breach of due processes and procedure. They are there; they simply use the P & ID as a test case. If it has indeed succeeded in taking away $10 billion out of our economy, those other existing contracts that were signed at the same time in breach could have now been the contracts we will be faced with in terms of arbitration and associated issues. ”

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Malami Says Nigerian Government Has Taken Measures To Prevent Treaty Fraud With China

Malami explained the measures taken by the federal government to prevent treaty fraud with China and lamented the willingness of government agencies to compromise and give in to foreign interests.

To prevent this, he explained further” we have developed a need for other circulars that these are intended clauses that could be tolerated in the public interest and the interest of the nation in mind were attached. What I’ m saying in essence is that the Taskforce is poised at looking at it.

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The intention of the working group is only an ad hoc agreement, because if you put it in the Federal Ministry of Justice, for example, and the Federal Ministry of Justice has undertaken to draw up the agreement, you can’ t do anything with it.

But then it is a matter of bringing about a comprehensive composition of responsible members who can now deal with it.

The Justice Minister also addressed concerns raised by Senator Chukwuma Utazi (Enugu North) on asset divestment.

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He said, ” all the ministries, departments and agencies of government were major and critical players in what is being done. For example, if you are talking of vessels, we have the Nigerian Navy whose responsibility it is to provide security. If you are talking of Nigerian petroleum content, you have the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, whose responsibility it is to measure and ascertain the authenticity of the product in contention.

” What we are trying to do here is to have a harmonized arrangement through the Taskforce whereby the Police, EFCC, ICPC, Office of the Attorney General will all be participants in assessing and analyzing and in of each contract that is being reviewed and targeted, we now analyze it to find out who is responsible in one compromise or the other that now subject the Federal Government to unnecessary liabilities. ”

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Malami Also Alleges That A Task Force Has Been Set Up To Probe Other Contracts By Previous Government

He explained that the task force set up for the purpose will spend N1. 1 billion in 2022 to conduct a holistic investigation into nine other contracts signed by the previous government against the interest of the country.

In his opening remarks, the commission chairman lamented the rising indebtedness of the judiciary, describing it as a national embarrassment that required urgent action.

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According to Bamidele, ” It is also pertinent to state that the judgment debt profile of the country keeps soaring without a corresponding response from the government in order to address the situation.

” This development is now viewed as a national embarrassment and necessary action must be taken to ensure that the image of the country is protected.

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” In this regard, I implore you to prioritize your budget and make a case for legislative intervention where necessary, in order to ensure that this area of concern is critically looked into, with a view to proffering the much- needed solution. “

Source: Mcebiscoo.com

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