*As FG increases charges against Briton to 32
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, raised a strong objection to the admission of the statement of its own witness, in the trial of a British citizen, James Nolan, alleged link with the Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) contract scam.
Nolan was on October 21, arraigned alongside another Briton, Adam Quinn (at large), over their alleged complicity in the activities of P&ID, which recently won a $9.6 billion judgment against Nigeria.
The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI) and ICIL Limited, were arraigned on a 16-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The Federal government only Wednesday opened trial of the Briton by calling its first witness Adewale Adeseye, an official of a new generation bank who gave oral evidence of what he new about the defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, at end of Wednesday’s proceedings had adjourned to Thursday for the cross examination of the witness.
Before the oral evidence at the Federal High Court Abuja, the witness had made written statement at the EFCC wherein he chronicled how about eight accounts linked with the controversial oil and gas supply contract were opened in 2006 and operated till date before the sponsors of the company were arrested in connection with the failed oil and gas deal.
Adeseye, who was led in evidence by lawyer to the EFCC, Iheanacho Ekele, had told the court how huge amount in dollars were transferred from P&ID accounts overseas into its subsidiaries’ accounts in Nigeria through the said bank.
The witness also told the court how huge sums running into millions of Naira were also transferred from one of the subsidiaries to another, especially Goidel Resources Nigeria Limited and ICIL Nigeria Limited.
At the resumed trial on Thursday, counsel to the defendants, Paul Erokoro SAN, midway into his cross examination of the witness sought to tender the said written statement made at the EFCC so as to assist the court arrive at a just conclusion.
The move was however challenged by the prosecution counsel on the grounds that the defence counsel did not lay foundation for the admission of the statement.
Adeseye during cross examination admitted that there was nothing unusual in foreign companies transferring money to their subsidiaries in Nigeria legally.
The witness further told the court that his bank would not have accepted the transfer of funds from abroad if it were not for legitimate purposes.
But, Ekele in opposing the tendering of the witness written statement insisted that the statement can only be tendered if it was for the purpose of discrediting the oral testimony of the witness.
Responding, Erokoro SAN expressed worry on why the EFCC objected to admission of its own statement, adding that the witness was accurate in the statement he made to the anti-graft agency.
Justice Abang however fixed December 6 for ruling on the admissibility or otherwise of the statement and for continuation of the trial.
Earlier, the EFCC had brought a 32 count amended charge and amended proof of evidence against the Briton and the two companies, who denied the entire charges.
In the 32 amended count charge, the defendants were accused of money laundering, tax evasion and failure to disclose their activities to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in line with the Money Laundering Act.
A British Commercial Court had in August this year, awarded judgment in favour of P&ID, who had dragged Nigeria to the International Court of Arbitration, over alleged non-execution of a 20-year gas and supply processing agreement (GSPA).
Nigeria had appealed the decision insisting that the contract was built on fraud from the onset.
Only few months ago, the country also secured a judgment which ordered the folding up of the P&ID in Nigeria as well as forfeiture of all their assets to the federal government.