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$9.6b judgment: Ex-CJN Belgore, others may face trial

Published by The Nation on Sun, 22 Sep 2019


A former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alfa Belgore may face trial for his alleged role in the $9.6billion debt judgment against Nigeria.Belgore is alleged to have provided legal consultancy service to the Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) during the case that got it the debt judgement.He has already been quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the matter.Also quizzed is his secretary.A team of legal giants left Abuja yesterday to hold talks with the nations offshore lawyers preparatory to the resumption of the legal battle to reverse the debt judgment on Thursday.The team left with a three-point agenda: seeking the leave of the court to set aside the $9.6b damages, seeking a stay of execution of the award and appealing the judgement.Several other people may also be arraigned with Ex-CJN Belgore, The Nation gathered yesterday.A total of 18 past and present government officials have been linked with the signing of the alleged agreement with P&ID.However, only one of them, a former Director, Legal Services of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Grace Taiga, has so far been taken to court.She was arraigned before Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on Friday.Sources said the EFCC has concluded investigation on more suspects and recommended them for trial.One source said anyone who is implicated during investigation will face trial.Another source said: The case at hand is serious. Many suspects conspired to create this problem for the country. We will arraign more people and companies in court.The final outcome of the investigation will determine the fate of ex-CJN Belgore. If he is found guilty, we might put him in the dock with others. The law is no respecter of anybody.When contacted, the EFCCs prosecution lawyer, Mr. Bala Sanga (a former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Adamawa State), said: We are going to give it everything to get to the root of this criminal conspiracy.We will prosecute anybody found culpable after the conclusion of our investigation.The Federal Government, it was also gathered, has perfected plans to register in London last Wednesdays judgment in Nigeria against Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) in line with UKs law on Registration of Foreign Judgment.If the registration scales through, P&ID will forfeit all its assets in Nigeria and in the UK, including the $9.6billion damages to the Federal Government.Investigation showed that Nigerias legal team departed Abuja yesterday for consultations with the nations offshore lawyers in London.The Federal Government also rejigged the legal team by dropping some of those who appeared on its behalf in the past in the case.A reliable source said: We have tinkered with the legal team; we now have a tighter group which will work with our offshore lawyers.We will build our case on the conviction of P&ID by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court for fraud, money laundering, bribery and tax evasion among others.The granting of an order forfeiture of assets of P&ID is more important to us. We will take advantage of the UKs law on Registration of Foreign Judgments to register Justice Ekwos verdict on P&ID.Once we succeed in registering the judgment, all assets of P&ID, including the so-called $9.6billion will belong to Nigeria.Asked of what Nigeria would be tabling before the court in London, the source said: We have a three-point agenda including seeking the leave of the court to set aside the $9.6b damages; a stay of execution of the award; and going to an appellate court if Nigerias application is refused.Seeking the leave of the court is not a matter of right, you have to argue for it on the point of law. This is why our team is battle ready.The founder of Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), Michael Quinn admitted to have had audience with the late President Umaru YarAdua, ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Shehu Ladan and 15 others over the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA).He also said he wrote ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and a former Special Adviser to President on Petroleum Matters, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah on certain developments on the failed project.Read Also:Alleged N450m fraud: Belgore denies complicityHe was silent on whether or not the ex-President, Diezani and Egbogah played any roles.But he admitted that the Arbitration, which led to the $9.6billion judgment debt, was entered into by the Jonathan administration with the knowledge of Diezani.He said on 19 September 2012 he wrote to the Minister for Petroleum Resources nominating P&IDs choice of Arbitrator, the Sir Anthony Evans.He said on 30 November 2012 the Government wrote to inform P&ID of the appointment of Chief Bayo Ojo as the Governments arbitrator.Despite the fact that he said there was a meeting earlier on 12 October 2012 at the office of the Government, he said he would not want to divulge what transpired.But Quinn included the list of the 18 key actors/ players in the contract in his in a witness statement tabled before the Arbitration Tribunal.He said the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the project was done on July 22, 2009.
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