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P&ID Scandal: AGF not aware of agreement–Witness

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A prosecution witness, CSP Umar Babangida, on Thursday told an FCT High Court that contrary to the claims of Grace Taiga, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation did not receive a copy of the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement allowing P&ID to operate in Nigeria.

Mr Babangida, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the lead investigator of the alleged fraudulent activities of the P&ID, made this known while testifying in the case.

The investigation was over the alleged involvement of the former Director of Legal Services,  Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Grace Taiga, in the P&ID scandal.

At the resumed hearing, Babangida, informed the court that based on the claims made by Taiga that she forwarded the GSPA to the Ministry of Justice, he wrote a letter to the minister in-charge of the ministry.

”After the defendant stated that she forwarded the draft GSPA to the Ministry of Justice, we wrote a letter to the Honorable Minister in charge of the Ministry, requesting evidence of receipt of the GSPA and asked the minister to send a copy of the draft agreement.

“We received a response from the Ministry of Justice, signed by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, SAN, informing us that after a thorough search of their archive, there was no evidence that such document was received from the Ministry of Petroleum.

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“He also stated unequivocally that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice did not play any role and was not aware of the drafted agreement from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources,” Mr Babangida said.

He also informed the court that after receiving such letter, the former Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice between the year 2008 and 2015 was invited.

“In respect of the letter from the office of the AGF, we contacted and invited one Abdullahi Yola, he was the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice between the year 2008 and 2015.

“We interacted and interviewed him over the GSPA.

“He confirmed that throughout his tenure in office, the GSPA was never brought to him for vetting.

“He further stated that according to the regulation of the Ministry, agreements by legal officers at ministries, departments and agencies above N50 million must be forwarded to the office of the AGF for vetting and a project of that nature ought to have been forwarded but that wasn’t done” he said.

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The witness also informed the court that during investigation, it was discovered that an associate company of Petroleum and Industrial Development made several payments into the Zenith Bank account of the defendant.

“During investigation, it was discovered that one of P&ID’s associate company, Industrial Consultant International, paid 10,000 dollars into the account of the defendant domiciled in Zenith Bank.

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“In 2018, the same Industrial Consultant International paid another 10,000 dollars into the defendant’s Zenith Bank account.

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“Another associate company called Eastwide Trading limited, paid 1,000 dollars into the defendant’s account.

“The only payment made to that domiciliary account was from these two associates.

“Also from the investigation of her naira account, it showed that she received N194, 210 on 27 March, 2019 from Industrial Consultant International.

“Also on March 28, 2019, another sum of N194, 230 was received from the Industrial Consultant International.

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“Further investigation showed that those payments were made in Euros, 500 Euros each.

“The defendant also wrote a letter to the Branch Manager of Zenith Bank requesting that the Euros be converted to naira and paid into her naira account,” he said.

Mr Babangida said an email was sent from Brendan Cahill to Taiga, thanking her for being a good friend to Cahill and Michael Quinn and also asking her to present the email in the bank to enable her to access 21,000 dollars sent to her.

He said the defendant admitted to knowing both Cahill and Quinn and that the money they sent to her was to help with her medical bills.

After the testimony, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi adjourned the case until Jan. 31, 2020 for further hearing.

Taiga is standing trial for allegedly facilitating the controversial contract and securing gratification to the tune of over 20, 000 dollars while she served at the ministry in 2010.

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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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