By Kingsley Nwezeh
Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday remanded Grace Taiga, a former Director of Legal at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, in prison custody pending perfection of her bail conditions.
The defendant, who is facing prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly receiving bribes to facilitate the award of contract in the infamous Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) scam, failed to provide a surety after she was granted bail by the court in October, 2021.
A statement issued by the EFCC stated that at the resumed sitting, prosecuting counsel, Abba Muhammed informed the court that the prosecution has a new charge which had been served on the defendant, “with additional proof of evidence.
“The only difference is that we are dropping two counts, eight and nine. It is a new charge to replace the old one. It is a reduction from nine counts to seven counts.”
The amended charge has the defendant’s daughter, Enameg Vera Moses Taiga, listed as an accused, who allegedly received the sum of $9,969.5 paid by Kristholm Limited, a company controlled by the owners and promoters of P& ID, through her HSBC bank account on behalf of the 1st defendant.
The former charge was withdrawn and replaced by the new one.
One of the counts in the amended read: “That you Grace Taiga, Enameg Vera Moses Taiga(at large), Brendan Cahill(at large), Michael Qiunn(Deceased) on or about the 30th of January, 2012, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire to commit an offence to wit, money laundering by disguising the origin of the sum of Five Thousand United States of America Dollars(USD $5,000) paid by Kristholm Limited- a company controlled by the owners and promoters of Process & Industrial Development Limited, P&ID- into the HSBC bank account of Enameg Vera Moses Taiga domiciled at No.8. Canada Square, London branch of HSBC which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act, to wit, bribery and thereby committed and offence contrary to section 18(a) and punishable under section 15(2)(a) and (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011(as amended)”.
Another count read, “That you Grace Taiga, whilst being the Director of Legal at Ministry of Petroleum Resources, on or about the 30th of December, 2009, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did commit an offence to wit, using the sum of $4969.5 paid by Marshpearl Limited- a company controlled by the owners and promoters of Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID)- into the HSBC bank account of Enameg Vera Moses Taiga domiciled at No.8 Canada Square, London branch of HSBC which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act, to wit, bribery and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 15(2)(d) and (3) of the Money Laundering(Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended)”.
The defendant pleaded, “not guilty” when the charges were read to her. Muhammed, also told the court that the prosecution has a witness in court and was ready to proceed with the trial.
“We have served the defendant the proof of evidence and we are ready, subject to the convenience of the court,” he said.
However, defence counsel, Ola Olanipekun, confirmed that they were served the second additional proof of evidence but prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him study the proof and respond.
At this stage, the judge asked the defendant if had perfected her bail conditions and the defense counsel responded that she was unable to perfect it.
Consequently, the judge remanded the defendant in the custody of the Correctional Service pending the perfection of the bail condition and adjourned the matter till February 3, 2022 for continuation of hearing.