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The $9bn P&ID scam – Between TY Danjuma and our government lawyers (II)

We started this series last week and I listed 5 points that Nigeria needed to look at in order to try and extricate the country from this needless liability. I must quickly add that P&ID as a name also rhymes with PAID. The company was set up to get PAID. They usually get PAID. Nothing tells that it is a scam more than that. All the little scams that some young Nigerians embarrass us with everywhere is not up to the massive scams that is wrought on Nigeria by those we call ‘foreign investors’ from time to time. Since last week, some new revelations has come into play, including how a former Chief Justice of the Federal, Alfa Belgore – a man who got retirement benefits to the tune of N2.8Billion (can you imagine that – and when did we start paying these kinds of amounts to singular retirees anyway and is that justified! – was indicted as the person who provided some ‘fool-proof’ argument to P&ID in order that they should get PAID $9.6Billion from this poor, long-suffering country. The man got paid $50,000 by P&ID for his efforts. As I made to send in this article, I saw in the news that another lawyer, the former Director of Legal at Ministry of Petroleum, a woman for that matter – Mrs Grace Taiga – has been remanded in prison for the role she played in the whole saga. That is the civil servant that ensured no one saw this transaction until it became crystallized. We hear that lawyers in the civil service are used to playing a scam on Nigeria whereby they deliberately do shoddy jobs on contracts, so that the other party can sue Nigeria and they will then share the payout. Could that be what happened in this instance? That said, please let us conclude the article by looking at the remaining recommendations.

  1. If the deal was not discussed at the FEC meeting given that when it was initiated, President Yar’Adua was already on his deathbed, is there any possibility that forgeries were involved? It is also noteworthy that Rilwan Lukman, a very competent and experienced professional who was Petroleum Minister then, is dead. The trails are blurring. The duo of Lukman and Yar’Adua are central to the eventual push of the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill to the Senate; a bill that some conglomerates swore will never see the light of day and which is still in a quagmire since 2007, 12 years on. Any connection with this crazy litigation?
  2. On what basis did Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) – a former Attorney General of the Federal Republic – propose a settlement of $250million for this deal that looks from a mile away like it doesn’t have any legs under the law, when he was the Nigerian representative in an arbitration made up of 3 people?
  3. On what basis did other lawyers from the government end finalize at $850 million until this government finally rejected the whole arrangement and headed back to court where we were now slammed with an obligation of $6bn – a figure that has added $3 billion as interest and accretes $1m in interest every waking day? Is the involvement of our own lawyers towing the path of alleged fraudulent legal deals which reap off Nigeria (and similar countries) and pay out for lawyers and other big men in our society?
  4. Could it be that the involvement of our lawyers – and their apparent neglect to push the angle of the legality or otherwise of this contract – added an undeserved legal imprimatur to this whole transaction and should this not be the very basis of Nigeria’s argument going forward? I mean, did we admit liability by even sending legal reps?
  5. How did TY Danjuma hope that between himself and his ex-auto mechanic turned gas consultant, Mick Quinn, would have carried out such a massive, technical transaction in the first place, because from afar, given the characters involved and the magnitude of the project, it doesn’t seem like there is any real attempt to execute the project. What seems more likely is that this is one deal where – like in a chess game – Nigeria was programmed into a tight corner from which we will have to pay serious money to get out.

This all looks like a major scam. I keep saying Nigerians are not good scammers. We are only lousy with our scams. Let a Nigerian boy find $10,000 and he is busy spraying money at parties and dancing on Benjamin Franklin’s image, much to the chagrin of the owners of modern finance. Bloomberg tells us that there is a whole industry behind these types of legal deals that keep countries permanently skidding and indebted. If these guys succeed in getting $9bn out of our reserves, this country will go into a Zimbabwe-type economic tailspin, as portfolio investor and local collaborators will come trooping in to take their own investments; which carry Nigeria’s sovereign guarantees.

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The only thing left to consider here is the role of leaders, especially when governments change hands. Who is to blame in this transaction? First, we will have to see the document to know who was bold enough to try sign Nigeria away. Then we will see, which president or FEC signed off and establish if it is a fraud or not. We know that Jonathan was excluded from the Yar’Adua government due to trust reasons. We know that there was no ‘cabal’ per se, beyond what El-Rufai claimed he and his friends invented from exile to discredit Yar’Adua. The mystery is, was Jonathan government informed of this deal on time by these top civil servants whom Buhari say are the ones who do all the work because ministers are noisemakers? Whatever the case, why did Jonathan sit on the deal for 5 years without busting it all open as it has right now?  I do not blame Buhari for refusing to pay $850 million upon coming to office. No one will rush to make such a payment. But he also messed up big time for not appointing ministers for 6 months while obligations festooned. For going to sleep for months, Buhari landed us in trouble.

It is great now that the entire transaction is in the open and every Dike, Tope and Haruna can contribute their perspectives from every angle, after all we would be joint sufferers if the obligation should crystalize. We have to thank some global news agencies for helping with the backend investigations and showing us how these things work. I understand though, that there are dozens of this type of litigation against Nigeria. These potential contingent liabilities must be well catalogued, examined, verified, criticized, monitored and controlled. We also should by now have made up our minds that some of our worst enemies as a nation are those we have been putting forward to go and act on our behalf. Segun Adeniyi, President Yar’Adua’s spokesman, did hint in his article on the same matter, that Supo Sasore (SAN) was pulled out of this very P&ID case for reasons that are less than noble. Half word, they say, is enough for the wise. I think these issues are worthy of investigation.  Nigeria we hail thee.

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