P&ID $9.6bn: UK judge commends Magu; Why Malami, FG downplay commendation
After establishing $700,000 was paid as kickback in the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement between Nigeria and the Irish firm P&ID, a UK commercial court has granted Nigeria’s prayer to set aside the $9.6bn fine an arbitration court awarded the company suing for contract breach.
The favourabe turn, Justice Ross Cranston noted, was largely due to the investigative works the EFCC and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami did in establishing the irregularity.
“Nigeria’s case in brief is that it has established a prima facie case of fraud against P&ID, which justifies the extension of time and will give it the opportunity to establish at trial its full ramifications for the arbitration,” the justice of Business and Property Courts of England and Wale said.
But while responding Friday night, the federal government was silent on the specific revelation of the role the judge said the EFCC under its suspended chairman Ibrahim Magu played.
Magu, now under the Justice Ayo Salami panel investigation running into months, was detained and suspended in June, after Malami petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging abuse of office.
However, Justice Cranston revealed how Malami, in a letter, alleged Magu bungled the investigation, but the AGF himself stated the EFCC did an excellent job of it.
The blow-by-blow account the justice gave suggested he is monitoring the Magu ordeal in Nigeria,
“After the hearing, I received written submissions relating to the role of acting chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu. On 5 June 2020, the Attorney General, Mr. Malami, had sent a letter to President Buhari headed “Flagrant abuse of public office and other infractions committed by Mr. Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,’” he said.
“In the course of the letter the Attorney General stated that as regards the investigation of P&ID, although he had passed on the President’s direction in June 2018, the EFCC ‘did not accord this presidential directive with any serious attention until a year after around July/August when the scale had already tilted dangerously against Nigeria.’
“In view of the delay, the Attorney General continued, he had involved the police. That had prompted Mr. Magu to prosecute charges against P&ID, but without recourse to the wider team.
“Mr. Magu was detained on 6 July, 2020 and a panel is investigating matters. On 31 July, 2020, after the hearing before me, a Nigerian news outlet, The Cable, published what purported to be a copy of the Attorney General’s letter of 5 June 2020 and the reply of Mr. Magu. In Mr. Magu’s reply, he says that the EFCC investigation was conducted expeditiously in 2018-2019, and that a staggering and unprecedented volume of work was done in less than a year.
“After The Cable report, on 4 August, 2020, the Attorney General wrote again to the President under the same heading. He sought to clarify that his complaint was against Mr. Magu and his lack of support within the EFCC for the P&ID investigation.
“The EFCC had begun the investigation, he said, but it had taken a lot of coercion from his office to have the investigation progress. Under Mr. Magu, said the letter, the EFCC did not share information with the Attorney-General’s office or the police.
“In a further statement for the court, Mr. Malami states that he has never seen what is reported as Mr. Magu’s letter and his understanding is that the President has never received it. He states that despite his criticisms of Mr. Magu’s personal handling of the EFCC investigations into P&ID, the investigation itself made excellent progress.”
In his own statement Friday night, Malami mainly credited the development to “our ongoing fight against the vulture-fund-backed P&ID, to overturn the injustice of the multi-billion dollar arbitral award”.
“In the light of the new and substantive evidence presented regarding P&ID’s fraudulent and corrupt activities, the Court has granted our application for an extension of time to hear our challenge out of normal time limits,” he said.
Malami himself has been engulfed in corruption allegations, and Buhari has received petition to probe him.
A number of those involved in the P&ID scam are Nigerians, including an ex-minister, some lawyers, and government officials.
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