Published On: Thu, Nov 21st, 2019

$9.6bn judgment debt: FG adopts strategies to quash contract – Malami

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• As court refuses Briton application for adjournment

By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

The Federal Government yesterday gave indication that it has started implementing enhanced strategies towards setting aside the entire P&ID liability and possible nullification of the contract.
This is just as Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja refused to grant the British national, James Nolan’s application for adjournment over inability of his counsel to prepare for his defence.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, made the federal government position known as he shed light on the development relating to the case.
Malami’s comments were conveyed via a statement issued, Wednesday, by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations in the Office of the AGF.
Malami said under the new strategy, “no lawyers were replaced, but more lawyers with specialized skills are locally and internationally engaged to support the existing capacity and initiate fresh suits with a view to achieve the desired result.
“This time around it is not limited to a challenge on enforcement proceedings, but extended to setting aside the entire liability and probably the nullification of the contract on the basis of which the award was hinged.’’
On replacement of the Nigerian Legal team on P&ID, Malami said “Our lawyers originally engaged have proven to be versatile, competent and effective and constitute our winning team. They have such capacity which we do not doubt in their ability to deliver.
“There was no change of counsel, but enhanced strategy commonly agreed upon which was targeted at getting overall success,’’ AGF said.
It will be recalled that Malami described the so-called P&ID contract as a well-organized scam “consciously, deliberately and intentionally orchestrated by some dubious and well-placed Nigerian government officials at the time with some shrewd foreign collaborators to defraud Nigeria and inflict heavy economic and financial loss on Nigeria and its people”.
He vowed that the Nigerian Government will not sell out the interest of the country and the Nigerian people in order to satisfy some elements who are consciously out to extort the Nigerian people for their selfish aggrandizement.
“We will not allow fraudulent local and foreign collaborators to rip off the resources of Nigeria for no just cause but merely to be seen as being nice or ‘investor-friendly,’’ Malami concluded.
On the British national, consequent to that, the court ordered counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ekele Iheanacho, to call his first witness.
Nolan and Adam Quinn (at large) are before the court over their alleged complicity in the 9.6 billion dollars judgment against Nigeria.
The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI) and ICIL Limited, were arraigned on a 16-count charge bordering on money laundering.
At the resumed trial, the prosecution counsel informed the court of their readiness to commence the trial as scheduled, adding that they have two witnesses in court.
However, Counsel to Nolan, Paul Erokoro, SAN, told the court that he had already briefed the prosecution about the difficulty he faced in preparing for the trial.
He said the Nolan was being held at Kuje Correctional Centre where they were allowed access to him twice a week.
Erokoro said that on each visit, they were are allowed only 15 minutes with the defendant, adding that the development had made it difficult for him to prepare for the trial.
He said the development was for the fact that there were lots of persons awaiting trial at the correctional center who all needed to be visited by their counsel and families.
He said it was disheartening that all these persons received their visitors at once without any privacy, besides the time constraint.
“Again, the visitors are supervised by prison officers. So the time for proper communication is not there,” Erokoro said.
Erokoro also hinted that his application for bail variation for Nolan was before the court.
He urged Justice Abang to grant the request.
In his ruling, Justice Abang dismissed the prayer for adjournment and ordered the EFCC to present the first witness.
Mr Agunbiade Adewale Akinseye, an account officer with an new generation bank, was called up by the anti-graph agency.

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