A former director of legal services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Grace Taiga, is to be remanded in prison custody for the next five days until a formal application is made for her bail, a federal high court sitting in Abuja has ruled.
Taiga is the latest in the number of those facing recriminations in the $9.6 billion judgment debt slammed on Nigeria by a British court.
Justice O.A. Adeniyi on Friday, September 20, 2019 remanded her in Suleja Prison. She is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mrs.Taiga, EFCC alleged was a key actor in the fraudulent Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) between the federal government and P&ID. She is alleged to have used her position to administer undue favours to the company.
She was arraigned on an eight-count amended charges, bordering on accepting bribes and other related crimes.
Count One of the charge reads: “That you, Process and Industrial Developments Limited, being a company incorporated in the British Virgin Island (now a convict), Michael Quinn (deceased), Brendan Cahill (at large), Neil Hitchcock (deceased) and Grace Taiga on or about the 11th January, 2010 in Abuja, within the Jurisdiction of this honorable court, with intent to defraud made a false statement in Paragraph 8(g) of Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) to wit: the parties are aware that the 24-inch Adanga Pipeline presently under construction from the Addax operated OML 123, directly to Calabar and due for completion in 2010 which part of the said agreement you knew to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 362(a) of the Panel Code Law and punishable under Section 364 of the same law.”
Count Five of the charge reads: “That you Grace Taiga (former director, Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) on or about the 18th of December, 2017 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, corruptly received the sum of $10,000(Ten thousand United States Dollars) from Industrial Consultants International, through your Zenith Bank offshore Account No.5070369868 on account of the favour you already showed to Process and Industrial Developments Limited, which led to the execution of the definitive agreement entered into between the said company, incorporated and existing under laws of the British Virgin Island and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on 11th of January , 2010 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(1) (a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2010.”
The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges. In view of her plea, prosecution counsel, Bala Sanga, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendant to be remanded in prison custody.
Defence counsel, Ola Olanipekun SAN, however, made an oral bail application for the defendant, which Justice Adeniyi rejected, preferring that he filed a formal bail application.
Olanipekun SAN, further told the court that the defendant had been in the EFCC custody, all the while and was down with hypertension, praying that the defendant be remanded rather in the custody of the EFCC.
The prosecution counsel objected to the prayer and urged the court to discountenance the defendant’s claim of health challenges as there was no evidence or proof to it.
He also objected to the prayer for the defendant to be remanded in EFCC’s custody, arguing that the matter was now in court and that the Commission’s detention facility was congested.
Justice Adeniyi adjourned the matter to September 25, 2019 for trial and remanded the defendant in the Suleja Prison.
Recall that two directors of P&ID: Muhammed Kuchazi and Adamu Usman were on Thursday, September 19, 2019 convicted by a Federal High Court, Abuja, after they pleaded guilty to 11-count charges that bordered on obtaining by false pretence; dealing in petroleum products without appropriate license; tax evasion, money laundering and failure to register P&ID with EFCC’s Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) as required by law.
The trial judge, Justice I.E. Ekwo also ordered a liquidation of the fraudulent company, while all of its assets are to be forfeited to the federal government.