Amid growing anxieties among Nigerians on recent UK court’s judgment awarded in favour of Process and Industrial Development Ltd (P&ID) to seize Nigeria’s assets worth $6.9bn over alleged breached of contract, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday accepted the guilty pleas of two employees of the foreign company and its Nigerian affiliate – P &ID Nigeria Limited.
Consequently, the court ordered the forfeiture of the companies’ assets to the Federal Government. In addition, the court also issued an order winding up the activities of the two companies in the country.
The two representatives, namely the Commercial Director, Mohammad Kuchazi, who represented the company, and Adamu Usman, a lawyer, who represented the Nigerian subsidiary, P &ID Nigeria Limited, were accused of fraudulently claiming to have acquired land from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the gas supply project agreement which led to the $9.6bn judgment.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned P&ID Ltd, Virgin Island and P&ID Nigeria Ltd on 11 counts of fraud, corruption and tax evasion, among others.
During the hearing of the case, both Kuchazi and Usman pleaded guilty to all the 11 counts read to them before Justice Inyang Ekwo. The charges border on economic sabotage, tax evasion and money laundering in respect of the recent judgment by a UK court which empowered the company to seize Nigerian assets worth about $6.9 billion in overseas countries.
Following their guilty pleas, Justice Ekwo gave the judgment which is now expected to legally vitiate the enforcement of the British court’s judgment against the Federal Government.
While Kuchazi was represented by his lawyer, Dandison Akurunwua, Usman represented himself.
Reacting to the court judgment, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that “The implications of today’s (Thursday) conviction is that Nigeria has a judicial proof of fraud and corruption as a foundation of the relationship that gave rise to the purported liability in the arbitral award.
The minister pointed out that a liability that was rooted in fraud and corruption cannot stand judicial enforceability, adding that with the latest judgment, Nigeria now has a very strong basis for setting aside the earlier liability placed on the country.