Process and Industrial Developments Limited reacted to the trial and conviction of two of its directors in Abuja today and slammed it all as shambolic, according to an unsigned statement.
“Today’s sham trial in Nigeria is entirely illegitimate, and follows a systematic campaign of harassment, intimidation and illegal detention of a number of individuals associated with P&ID or the GSPA contract. The individuals detained have not been afforded due process and have instead been pressured and intimidated by the government into making false statements.
“Nigeria’s Attorney General Abubakar Malami has publicly acknowledged that his aim is to provoke global opposition against P&ID, by undertaking this EFCC ‘investigation’.
“None of the individuals involved are current employees or representatives of P&ID. P&ID itself has received no communication from any Nigerian authority about the investigation or today’s hearing. There has been no evidence produced, no defence allowed, no charges laid, no due process followed.
“The EFCC’s investigation is an attempt to produce false evidence, and is being conducted in blatant disregard of basic human rights and the rule of law. P&ID calls on the Government of Nigeria to accept its responsibilities under the law and to cease this sham investigation.”
Docked today were P&ID, the commercial director, Mohammed Kuchazi and the company’s director of process, Adamu Usman.
They were arraigned before Justice I. E. Ekwo of Federal High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja. The judge sentenced the company, incorporated in British Virgin Island to wind up in Nigeria and its properties, forfeited to the federal government.
The duo were arraigned on 11-count charges, bordering on obtaining by false pretence; dealing in petroleum products without appropriate license; money laundering and failure to register P&ID with the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) as required by law, amounting to economic sabotage against the Nigerian state.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Process and Industrial Development Limited, being a company, incorporated in the British Virgin Island, Michael Quinn (deceased), Brendan Cahill (at large), Neil Hitchcock (deceased), Muhammad Kuchazi and Grace Taiga on or about the 11th of January, 2010 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court with intent to defraud made a false statement in Paragraph 8 (g) of the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) to wit: the parties are aware that the 24-inch Adanga Pipeline, presently under construction from the Addax operated OML 123 directly to Calabar and due for completion in 2010 which part of the said agreement you knew to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 362 (a) of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 364 of the same law.”
The defendants pleaded guilty to all the 11-count charge.
While urging the court to convict them according to their plea, the prosecuting counsel Bala S. Sanga presented to the court, statements of account, showing massive withdrawals of dollars, some running into as much as $700,000 (Seven Hundred Thousand dollars) and some of which established the violation of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, as well as the law on Advance Fee Fraud. He revealed that contrary to the impression sold by P&ID that it was established in Calabar, the Cross River capital, the company did not as much as acquire a land for an office structure.
Section 10 (1) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 states that “Where an offence under this Act which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed on the instigation or with the connivance of or attributable to any neglect on the part of a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any person purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, where practicable, shall be deemed to have committed that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.”
It further provides that “Where a body corporate is convicted of an offence under this Act, the High Court may order that the body corporate shall thereupon and without any further assurance, but for such order, be wound up and all its assets and properties forfeited to the Federal Government.”
Testifying as prosecuting witness, Babangida Umar Hussaini, an operative of the EFCC proved with evidence how Kuchazi (first defendant) and Usman(second defendant) conspired and sabotaged the country’s economy by evading tax payment for a period of 10 years; an accusation the duo agreed to be true.
Counsel for the defendants, however, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy since the duo did not waste the time of the court with their immediate plea of guilt to all the charges against them.
Justice Ekwo convicted them based on all the charges levelled against them by the EFCC. He sentenced the company to wound up and its properties be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria.
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