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$9.6Billion Scam: How Top Nigerian Government Officials Aided P&ID Directors, EFCC Investigator Tells Court

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Mr Umar Babangida, an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigator, on Tuesday, detailed how top government officials supported directors of Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited in the alleged $9.6 billion scam against Nigeria.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Babangida, the second prosecution witness (PW2) in the current trial of James Nolan, an Irish national, told Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court in Abuja during his testimony.

The commission had in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/9/2022, sued Micad Project City Services Ltd. and Mr Nolan as 1st and 2nd defendants.

was granted N100 million bail after pleading not guilty to 20 counts. However, he failed to appear in court, leading to his bail being revoked. Justice Ahmed Mohammed issued a bench warrant for his arrest and allowed the EFCC to continue his trial in absentia.

While being led in evidence-in-chief by EFCC’s counsel, Bala Sanga before Justice Okorowo, the witness said former President Muhammadu Buhari directed that an investigation be conducted by the commission into the signing of a gas supply and processing agreement between the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID Ltd. dated January 11, 2010.

 

“On June 28, 2018, a letter from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice was forwarded to EFCC conveying the directives of Mr President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, that investigation be conducted by the EFCC.

 

“The petition was assigned to my team and I, including Isah Suleiman Daku, Aminu Lawal, Hembafan Tortilla, and others,” he was quoted by NAN as saying.

 

 

 

 

“Upon receipt of the documents, which include copy of the signed gas supply and processing agreement dated Jan. 11, 2010; memorandum of understanding dated July 22, 2009; memos and other correspondence, we reviewed the documents.

 

The investigation revealed that the gas supply and processing agreement was signed by Dr. Rilwan Lukman, witnessed by Mrs Grace Taiga, and by Michael Quinn, an Irish citizen, and Alhaji Muhammed Kuchazi, the owner and operator of P&ID Ltd.

He added: “We further discovered that they have incorporated about 30 companies registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria.

 

“They also registered 20 offshore companies which they promote and operate.

 

“Among the 30 companies registered in Nigeria is Micad Project City Services Ltd, the 1st defendant and their representatives in Nigeria.”

 

Micad Project City Services Ltd is run by Irish citizens James Richard Nolan, Adam Quinn, Lloyd Quinn, Neil Christopher Murray, and Gerry Gallagher. The company was incorporated in 2005 with two shareholders and directors, James Nolan and Adam Quinn, each holding 50% equity.

He said he requested the incorporation document from the CAC, which revealed the company was incorporated in 2005.

He said in March 2007, Nolan resigned as a director of Micad Project and relinquished his shares back to the company, and Lloyd Quinn and Gerry Gallagher were appointed the company directors.

 

“In April 2007, Adam Quinn also resigned as director of the company and relinquished his shares back to the company leaving Lloyd Quinn and Gerry Gallagher as directors.

 

“Lloyd Quinn had 99 per cent equity while Gerry Gallagher had 1 per cent equity of the company,” he said.

The witness said his team wrote to Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) requesting the account opening package and statement of account of Micad Project and discovered Lloyd Quinn was the sole signatory to the company’s account.

The EFCC investigator claimed that Micad Project City Services Ltd. had an account with Diamond Access Bank, previously Diamond Bank. James Nolan resigned as director and shareholder in 2007 and was a signatory to the Access Bank account.

He said after further review of the statement of account domicile with Access Bank Plc, the team discovered that the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) paid over N151 million into the account on May 22, 2017.

 

“We also discovered a payment from the account of a single transaction of N50 million to Avory Chambers dated 24th of May, 2017,” he added.

 

He said the team confirmed through the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) that the company failed to comply with the provisions that the Money Laundering and Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended).

The witness said the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in the course of their investigation, revealed that the company failed to comply with the tax law.

He added that Micad Project had a tax liability of over N39 million, and failed to pay between 2008, 2009, and 2010. The company also failed to pay N151 million and received records of terms of settlement from the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

Babangida said all the documents relating to the investigation were forwarded to the EFCC Forensic Department for forensic analysis.

 

He said the forensic expert would be in a better position to tell the court of his findings.

 

Earlier, Mr Temitope Erinomo, the 2nd prosecution witness and former Principal Complaint Officer, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, said that the ministry carried out off-site and on-site examinations of Micad Project City Services Ltd.

 

Erinomo, who said this during a cross-examination by the defence lawyer, Mr Michael Ajara, revealed that the off-site and on-site examinations “were carried out at the business addresses of the company but they were not present at the two addresses in Abuja and Lagos.”

 

“In my testimony, I said that we received a letter from the EFCC seeking to know the compliant status of Micad Project with the Money Laundering and Prohibition Act and to also furnish them with other information that will be relevant to the investigation that EFCC is carrying out,” he told the court.

 

Justice Egwuatu adjourned the matter until Wednesday for the continuation of the trial.

 

In October 2023, a United Kingdom court ruled against P&ID Limited in a London court.

 

The judgment was delivered after five years of legal frameworks which finally favoured Nigeria, as the court quashed the $11.5 billion arbitration award in favour of P&ID.

 

Judge Robin Knowles of the Business and Property Court in London, the Justice of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales, upheld Nigeria’s prayer on the ground that the ill-fated gas processing contract was obtained by fraud.

Also in December 2023, a London court gave Nigeria a final victory as it refused to grant an application by P&ID seeking to appeal the judgment halting the enforcement of its billion-dollar award against Nigeria.

The court in the judgment delivered by the presiding judge, Robin Knowles, ruled that the award against Nigeria should be thrown out immediately.

 

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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N10bn fraud: EFCC to arraign Abdulfattah Ahmed, ex-Kwara Governor Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign the immediate-past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfattah Ahmed, for alleged N10bn fraud on Friday, The PUNCH has learnt.

Credible sources in the anti-graft agency said the ex-governor would be dragged before the Federal High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

“He is going to be arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court in Ilorin for diversion of funds, amounting to N10bn,” the source told our correspondent.

The ex-governor has been detained by the EFCC since Monday when he honoured an invitation for interrogation.

His Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji AbdulWahab Oba, confirmed his principal’s visit to the EFCC office on Monday, stating that it was only “procedural and routine”.

“Dr Ahmed’s visit to the EFCC is procedural and routine. He was invited and he honoured them as he’s always done. He’s always ready to respond to any query or question regarding his tenure as a governor of the state.”

On Tuesday night, Oba lamented that the EFCC was still holding on to Ahmed, saying he was given stringent bail conditions.

“Yes, he is still with the EFCC and we are now in a dilemma over the issue because they keep changing the goalpost during the match. The case is taking a new dimension, which we don’t really understand for now.

“Initially they said they wanted him to produce two sureties who are federal directors. The sureties came and were asked to provide landed properties in Abuja. We see this as a contradiction. The case was initially handled by the EFCC office in Abuja before it was transferred to Ilorin over the issue of jurisdiction. Additionally, he has been denied access to his doctors, medication and direct access to his cook,” Oba said.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the EFCC zonal office in Ilorin, where Ahmed was being detained.

The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, expressed displeasure over Ahmed’s detention.

Led by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olusegun Adewara, the party members alleged that the All Progressives Congress in the state was behind Ahmed’s troubles.

Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “EFCC should stop being a tool in the hands of Abdulrazaq led-APC”, “Governor Ahmed was very transparent”, “EFCC is not a department in the APC, EFCC, stop the harassment”, “The opposition cannot be silenced”, “Maigida will not join the APC no matter the persecution”, “EFCC, don’t instigate political crisis in Kwara State”, “No to illegal detention. Respect the rule of law”, among others.

But addressing the protesters, the zonal commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe, said Ahmed had been given an administration bail but he could not meet the conditions.

“We’re wrapping up. Once we wrap up, the law will take its course. The anti-graft agency, being a creation of law, would not go contrary to law.

“Everything we’ve done is within the ambit of the law. The former governor is cooperating with us and we’re making good progress following rules of law. As I speak, he’s with his lawyer, a SAN; he attends to everyone who comes to see him, and he has a doctor who has attended to him. He eats what he wants to eat. I urge us to allow the law take its course. We’re not partisan nor prompted by anybody. This body is solely sponsored by the Federal Government,” Nzekwe said.

 

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