The Federal Government has been urged to arrest and prosecute former government officials connected with the ill-fated gas plant project contract the country signed with an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd, P&ID.
The Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, Dr. Dennise Aghanya, gave the advice in a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.
Aghanya, whose anti-graft outfit investigated Justice Walter Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, on fraud, said the P&ID contract was a scam aided by some unpatriotic citizens to swindle the country.
News Agency of Nigeria recalls that a British court on August 6 granted approval for the firm to seek to seize the country’s assets abroad worth $9.6bn.
The company was awarded $6.6bn in an arbitration decision over a failed project to build a gas processing plant in Calabar awarded during late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s tenure in office.
“The administration that initiated the contract should have guided it to a logical conclusion if it was well intended in the first place.
“In fact, the negotiation that saw P&ID agreeing to take $850m instead of s$6bn early 2015 was not enough excuse to exonerate the administration of its carelessness that brought about this mess,” Aghanya said.
He therefore called on the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, to open investigation into the matter with a view to prosecuting ex-officials of government who were directly and indirectly involved in the P&ID hoax contract.
“The AGF should, without delay, invite the EFCC to commence probe and prosecution of officials of the past administration who structured the contract with P&ID and failed to take corrective measures when it became obvious that the contract was not working.
“When would government officials in this country realise that the interest of the country should come first in all official negotiations?
“It has become the norm for persons in positions of authority, either as civil servants or political appointees, to see public offices as a means of amassing wealth rather than rendering service for public interest.
“We therefore encourage the President to beam his searchlight on the activities of officials of past administrations without blinking.
“The President must act without consideration to political affiliation as his fight against corruption enters the second phase in the schedule of this government.
“In Republic of China, economic sabotage attracts death penalty and we should begin to contemplate that level of stiff penalty in this country.
“We wish to commend the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for his stance that the judgement by the British Commercial must be set aside because of the dire consequences of allowing the implementation of such judgement on the country’s economy.
“We should be smart enough to evolve an alternative plan by not depending totally on the outcome of our intended appeal to challenge this judgment,’’ he said.
Aghanya explained that the government should immediately commence an out-of-court negotiation with the judgment creditor by negotiating for an alternative contract to compensate them.
He said such arrangement would enable the company to recoup the judgement sum in about a year or two in place of direct payment that would subject Nigeria to intensive economic haemorrhage.
“At the moment, no court in Europe or America will be sympathetic to us over this matter, considering the country’s worrisome image accentuated by corruption and fraud in recent time overseas.
“To them, this is an opportunity long awaited.”