Fear grips ex, serving officials as EFCC, NASS uncover more details

SEVERAL former and serving government officials now live in fear over possible indictment in the $9.6 billion debt judgement obtained by the Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited  against Nigeria.

The federal government has gone to court in the United Kingdom to reverse the judgement, while the House of Representatives and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are probing where it all went wrong.

Investigators are said to have uncovered more information on the deal.

“Investigators are daily uncovering a web of conspiracies  and connivance in violation of known best practices as well as local and international laws, that could be used to nail a number of former public office holders who broke the laws and aided the foreign firm to hoodwink past administrations as far as P&ID claims are concerned,” a well-placed source said on Saturday.

It was also gathered that the EFCC has established strong cases against a number of former federal government appointees.

The affected persons may be   invited soon for questioning in relations to the ongoing probe.

A former presidential aide told The Nation that allegations made by the anti-graft agency against some people on the controversial deal could be just a tip of the iceberg.

He said: “We are all waiting to see how all these will farm out. The P&ID issue may just be the opportunity some people have been waiting for to nail some of us. It is not yet time to talk but I can tell you we are all worried with the turn of events.”

Another source, a former technical assistant to a minister said: “the ongoing saga over the P&ID is scandalous enough to put anybody with the remotest link to it in trouble. Names are being mentioned and everybody is critical.

“Nobody is considering the fact that many of us acted in official capacity and in fact, as instructed back then. So if you are asking me if I am worried, I say yes, I am worried and for good reasons too.”

He added that some of the discoveries are already giving Nigerians the impression that all those who served in the concerned administrations are culpable in the alleged shady deals.

He said a number of former officials in the Umar Musa Yar’ Adua administration have been questioned by investigators.

He added: “one bad official can tarnish the whole team.”

While expressing his readiness to be questioned, the Kogi-born Engineer urged that the ongoing investigations should be devoid of politics.

The EFCC, it was learnt, made more discoveries in its quest to unravel how some government officials allegedly aided the foreign firm to swindle the country. Reliable sources said that more persons would be invited for questioning soon. One of the sources said: “Statements by some of the people we have spoken to as well as findings by our legal team have uncovered some more people who played one role or the other in the scam.

“We are poised to listen to all of them and subsequently determine how culpable they are. One thing that I can tell you is that what led to this situation was a conspiracy that was planned right from the very moment the botched project was conceived.

“Those who participated in the conspiracy as well as the subsequent cover-ups know themselves and I am sure they are also expecting to be summoned.

“We have even received correspondences from some of them we have not invited. They claimed some reports mentioned them directly or indirectly. It is good we are making these discoveries.”

The House of Representatives commenced the investigation of the controversial issue a fortnight ago.

This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance on the need to look into act of negligence of the P&ID’s transaction by the Ministries of Justice and Petroleum Resources.

The motion was sponsored by Prof Julius Ihonvbere.

Consequently, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, constituted an ad-hoc committee to probe the circumstances surrounding the award of the contract.

The Nation learnt the committee has been questioning some people as part of its assignment.

Speaking on the matter, Ihonvbere said: “the House is alarmed that the agreement was somewhat shrouded in secrecy and as such apparently dubiously procured, as those who ought to know about its existence did not and more importantly, the relevant laws in Nigeria for the transaction to be consummated was not applied especially, Part IV of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act 2007 which deals with the Fundamental Principles of Procurement.

“The House is worried that the lack of diligent prosecution of cases in which Nigeria is involved by those whose duty it is to do so, is due to our tendency to either politicise everything or focus more on personal interests, or failure on the part all parties involved.”

The ad hoc Committee chaired by Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) is to recommend appropriate sanctions where necessary without fear or favour or preference for status in line with Order 14 of the Standing Orders of the House, against those involved in the contract that led to judgment debt.

The House further resolved to initiate a process of reviewing all Agreements and Treaties signed by Nigeria through the appropriate committees to create opportunities to discover anomalies and avoid a repeat in the future.

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