Nigeria: P&ID Scandal - Witness Testifies Against Ex-Petroleum Ministry Official

6 November 2019

A principal witness, Umar Babangida, on Wednesday alleged that Grace Taiga, a former director, Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, played a major role in the fraudulent gas supply agreement between the federal government and Petroleum and Industrial Development (P&ID).

Testifying in an FCT High Court in Abuja, Mr Babangida informed the court that he led the team that investigated the alleged fraudulent activities of the P&ID.

"We opened an investigation as a result of a petition forwarded from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to the Acting Chairman of EFCC in July 2015.

"The team wrote a letter of investigation to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources requesting the Ministry to provide the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement dated January 11, 2010.

"We also asked them to provide the MOU dated July 22, 2009 which was signed between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID.

"Upon analysing the two documents, we observed that the MOU was signed by P&ID Nig Ltd while the Gas Supply and Production agreement was signed by P&ID Ltd, a company registered in the British Virgin Island," he said..

He said that the then minister of Petroleum Resources, Deiziani Allison-Madueke, signed for the ministry of petroleum resources while the defendant witnessed for the ministry.

"On the strength of this response, we then wrote a letter to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, to confirm if the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) was forwarded to the commission form the ministry to enable the Federal Executive Council make a decision.

"ICRC replied that the GSPA was not forwarded to the commission and the Federal Executive Council had not deliberated on it.

"Based on their reply, we wrote a letter to the office of the Secretary General, to confirm if the GSPA was forwarded to them for the Federal Executive Council to deliberate on.

"The office of the Secretary General replied that it did not get to them. As a result of this, we then wrote to the Bureau of Public Procurement to confirm the role they played.

"Their response was that after going through their archives and records, they discovered that the Bureau wasn't contacted in any way and as such wasn't involved in the agreement." he said

The witness also explained that a list of members of the technical team, which Ms Taiga was on, was provided by the ministry.

Mr Babangida said the defendant voluntarily made a statement in the absence of her lawyer.

The witness said that Ms Taiga confirmed that the drafted agreement was forwarded to the office of the AGF for vetting which was part of her duty as the director of legal services.

After the testimony, Ola Olaonipekun, counsel for the defence, prayed the court for an adjournment on the grounds of the defendant's failing health.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi adjourned the case until December 12 for further hearing.

The EFCC accused Ms Taiga of facilitating the controversial contract and securing gratification to the tune of over 20,000 dollars while she served at the ministry in 2010.

She pleaded not guilty and was admitted to bail in the sum of N10 million and two sureties in like sum.

(NAN)

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