By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday ordered the forfeiture of assets belonging to Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) limited to the federal government after two representatives of the company pleaded guilty to the charges preferred against them by the federal government.
The order of forfeiture was made following the conviction of the firm on an 11-count charge bordering on economic sabotage, money laundering, tax evasion, amongst others.
The charges were preferred against the company in respect of the failed contract that led to a recent controversial award of $9.6bn judgment against Nigeria by a British Commercial Court.
P&ID Ltd, the parent company incorporated in the British Virgin Island, was represented at the court in Abuja 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 consequently convicted them based on their plea of guilt.
After their conviction, counsel to the first defendant, Dandison Akurunwa, prayed the court to consider the cooperation showed by the first defendant in not wasting the time of the court and for admitting guilt in the charge.
Similarly, the second defendant, whose representative stood for himself, aligned himself with the submission of counsel to the first defendant.
However, prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, 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.
Justice Ekwo accordingly made an order winding up the two firms as well as forfeiture of their assets to the federal government.
Recall that a British Commercial Court had on August 16 awarded judgment in the sum of $9.6bn against Nigeria over a failed contract between P &ID and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010.
The British court had in the judgment gave the nod to P&ID to seize Nigeria’s foreign assets to the tune of $9.6billion as judgment debt in its favour.
But the federal government on its part have maintained that the entire Gas Supply and Processing Agreement signed between Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum and P&ID in 2010 was deliberately skewered to fail so as to benefit a syndicate that was out to extort Nigeria of its resources.
P&ID had in 2012 instituted the legal battle against Nigeria in the Court of Arbitration in the UK in 2012, following Nigeria’s refusal to carry on with the GSPA agreement entered with the firm in 2010.
By the terms of the agreement, P&ID was to build and operate an accelerated gas development project at Adiabo in Odukpani Local Government Area (LGA) of Cross River State. The agreement required the federal government to supply natural gas from Addax Petroleum-operated Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 123 and 67 for P&ID to refine into fuel suitable for power generation in the country.
According to the terms, the initial volume of gas was about 150 million cubic feet of gas per day, which would be ramped up to about 400 million cubic feet per day during the 20-year period.
P&ID alleged that after signing the agreement, the federal government reneged on its obligation after it had opened negotiations with the Cross River State Government for allocation of land for the project.
P&ID claimed that the failure of the federal government to construct the pipeline system to supply the gas frustrated the construction of the gas project and deprived it the potential benefits expected from 20 years’ worth of gas supplies