The Nigerian government on Thursday arraigned persons it said were representatives of the Process and Industrial Development Company (P&ID) before a Federal High Court in Abuja on allegations of fraud.
The government arraigned two suspects who pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraudulent involvement in the contract.
The suspects are Muhammad Kuchazi, said to be a commercial director of P&ID and Adamu Usman, a director of the company in Nigeria.
The prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), also suggested that the company had no license to sell petrol and that they did not comply with Nigeria’s tax requirements.
The government had vowed to arraign the people it accused of involvement in the controversial contract which resulted in the award of a $9 billion debt against Nigeria in July.
The federal government entered into the contract with P&ID in 2010 during the government of late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Speaking with journalists on Sunday, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami said the officials who signed the deal with the Irish firm, committed “fraud.”
The EFCC commenced an investigation of the contract following a British court ruling that Nigeria owed the Irish firm about $9 billion for violating terms of the contract.
The contract for gas supply and processing (GSPA) was signed by the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and P&ID.
The company was to build gas processing facilities around 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.”
In turn, the company “shall operate and maintain the GPFs (gas processing facilities) on a professional basis to ensure a regular supply of Lean Gas (approximately 340 MMSCuFD) for power generation.” Lean gas, defined as “pipeline quality gas having a composition of not less than 95 mol per cent of methane and ethane,” was what the government was to take after supplying wet gas for processing by the company.
A three-member arbitration panel that reviewed the contract had ruled against Nigeria and ordered the government to pay the firm $6.6 billion as damages.
A British court last month ruled against Nigeria’s objection to the 2017 arbitration.
The money with interest has now accumulated to about $9 billion (approximately N3.24 trillion), over one-third of Nigeria’s 2019 budget.
The judgement was delivered by Justice Butcher of The High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.
Nigeria has since condemned the ruling and said it suspects that various officials involved in the negotiations did so for pecuniary reasons.