The federal government has insisted that Nigeria's controversial gas contract with Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited was a well organised scam from the onset.
This assertion was made by the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), during an interaction with media executives yesterday in Abuja.
He wondered why the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration would award such a sensitive contract to a firm whose address was in the care of a lawyer's office.
Malami said that the company had no record of executing project of any magnitude close to what it was awarded in Nigeria.
He, however, assured Nigerians that the federal government would not sell out the interest of the people in order to satisfy a few selfish individuals.
The minister said: "I know each of you will be itching to know more about the current case that Nigeria has on hand - the $9.6 billion awarded against us in favour of Process and Industrial Development Limited. I have decided not to speak too much on this matter since it is still within the domain of the courts in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US). While I don't wish to say so much on the P&ID matter, I want to state clearly that the Nigerian government will not sell out the interest of the country and the Nigerian people in order to satisfy some elements who are consciously out to extort the citizens for self-aggrandisement.
"Nigerians should also ask the PDP government that awarded the contract why it was given to a company, whose address is care of of a lawyer's office: Trident Chambers, P.O Box 146, Tortola, British Virgin Island and that means the company does not have an office of its own and has no record of executing any project of any kind close to what it was awarded in Nigeria," he said.
Malami insisted that the purported contract and the arbitration processes were clearly not in the interest of Nigeria.
He, however, enjoined Nigerians who blamed the botched contract on President Muhammadu Buhari to query the suspicious processes with which it was awarded.
"Those who are clapping for P&ID and blaming Abubakar Malami and the Buhari administration for the huge $9.6 billion slammed on the country as a result of the so-called Gas Supply and Processing Contract (GSPC) awarded the firm on January 11, 2010, five years before President Buhari came to power and I became minister, should be kind enough to ask those who awarded the 'so-called contract' what it was all about and why there was no attempt by either those who awarded the contract and the contractor to implement even an aspect of it," he added.
According to Malami, it is clear from all indications that the so-called contract was a well organised scam Consciously, deliberately and intentionally orchestrated by some dubious and well-placed Nigerian government officials at the time with some shrewd foreign collaborators to defraud Nigeria and inflict heavy economic and financial loss on the country and its people.
"In whose interest was the critical contract awarded and what was it to achieve? Why was the centre of arbitration taken to London, and not Nigeria, a sovereign nation? Why was the contract not passed unto the Federal Ministry of Justice for vetting? Why was the Federal Executive Council (FEC's) approval not sought for in the execution of the agreement? Was there any direct capital inflow arising from the contract? Was the NNPC, NPDC and IOCs which were to have supplied the gas component of the agreement not made parties to it?" he queried.
While assuring the Nigerian business community and foreign partners that the government would negotiate and meet the terms of agreements reached with all genuine investors in the country, Malami insisted that the current administration would not allow fraudulent local and foreign collaborators to rip the country off its resources.
"It is to be noted that while we are willing and ready to negotiate and meet the terms of agreements reached with all genuine investors who have done business or are still doing business with Nigeria on mutually beneficial terms, we will not allow fraudulent local and foreign collaborators to rip off the resources of Nigeria for no just cause in order to be seen as being nice or 'investor-friendly', " Malami stated.