Court orders forfeiture of P&ID assets to Nigeria

Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), yesterday described as fraudulent the ruling by the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordering the forfeiture of all its assets to the Federal Government.
“Today’s (yesterday’s) sham trial in Nigeria is entirely illegitimate and follows a systematic campaign of harassment, intimidation and illegal detention of a number of individuals associated with P&ID or the GSPA (Gas Supply and Purchase Agreement) contract. The individuals detained have not been afforded due process and have instead been pressured and intimidated by the government into making false statements,” the firm said in a statement by its representative, Andrew Stafford QC.
It said: “Nigeria’s Attorney General Abubakar Malami has publicly acknowledged that his aim is to provoke global opposition against P&ID by undertaking this EFCC ‘investigation’. 
“None of the individuals involved are current employees or representatives of P&ID. P&ID itself has received no communication from any Nigerian authority about the investigation or today’s hearing. There has been no evidence produced, no defence allowed, no charges laid, no due process followed. 
“The EFCC’s investigation is an attempt to produce false evidence, and is being conducted in blatant disregard of basic human rights and the rule of law. P&ID calls on the Government of Nigeria to accept its responsibilities under the law and to cease this sham investigation.”
The order of forfeiture came after the conviction of the firm on an 11-count charge bordering on economic sabotage, money laundering and tax evasion brought against it by the Federal Government.
Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo gave the assets forfeiture order following the admission of guilt by the firm and its officials in the criminal charges against them.
P&ID Limited, the parent company incorporated in the British Virgin Island, was represented by its commercial director, Mohammad Kuchazi while P&ID Nigeria Limited was represented by Adamu Usman.
The defendants pleaded guilty to all the charges read against them and the court convicted them accordingly.
After their conviction, counsel to the first defendant, Dandison Akurunwa, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy and consider the cooperation showed by the first defendant in not wasting the time of the court and for admitting guilt in the charge.
Also, the second defendant, whose representative stood for himself, aligned himself with the submission of counsel to the first defendant.
Prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, however urged the court to deliver its sentencing in line with the provision of the Money Laundering Act, which stipulates the winding up of the firm as well as forfeiture of all their assets to the Federal Government.
The convicts pleaded guilty to intent to defraud by obtaining property from the Cross River government, and a second count of obtaining land from the state government with the intent to defraud, as well as count three for conspiring with certain individuals to commit a felony by dealing in petroleum product without appropriate licence.
The defendants also pleaded guilty to count four, a similar charge to count three, and counts five and six, which bordered on charges of tax evasion.
They pleaded guilty to count seven and count eight of concealing the origin of over N3 million operated by P&ID when they knew that the money formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act.
They also pleaded guilty to count nine that between January and December 2009, they concealed the unlawful origin of over N2 million in a commercial bank when they reasonably ought to know that the proceeds formed part of an unlawful act of tax evasion.
They further pleaded guilty to concealing the origin of over N1 million in a commercial bank operated by P&ID when they ought to reasonably know that it formed part of proceeds of tax evasion by the company.
The defendants also pleaded guilty to count 11, for failing to comply with the requirement of submitting a declaration of their activities to the Ministry of Trade and Investment.
The EFCC had commenced an investigation into the contract between Nigeria and P&ID, following a British court ruling that Nigeria owes the firm about $9 billion for violating the terms of the contract. The contract for the GSPA was signed by the administration of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and P&ID.
The company was to build gas processing facilities in Calabar, Cross River State, and the government was to supply wet gas up to 400 million standard cubic feet per day. The agreement defined wet gas as ‘associated gas removed, during oil production, having a propane content of not less than 3.5 mol per cent and a butane content of not less than 1.8 mol content, compressed and delivered via pipeline to the site.

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