President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a full-scale investigation on the circumstances which led to a British court’s decision of heavy financial penalty on Nigeria following a botched gas contract, said top government officials on Tuesday.

At a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the government alleged that local and international conspirators had moved through the controversial gas deal to inflict grave economic injury on the west African country.

The contract, involving Nigeria’s ministry of petroleum resources and the Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID), a foreign private company, was bound to fail from conception because of deliberate inherent elements designed into it, said Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice.

On Aug. 16, the Commercial Court in London had authorized the firm to seize 9.6 billion dollars in Nigerian assets over a contract by the company and the federal ministry of petroleum resources of Nigeria since 2010.

In the contractual terms, the international firm was to build a state-of-the-art natural gas plant in Nigeria to power its national grid but the deal collapsed two years later.

The firm thereafter sued the Nigerian government for failing to provide the gas or install the pipelines it had promised to build.

“As you rightly know, the federal ministry of petroleum resources is not a producer of gas. Gas products are produced by international oil companies and NNPC (the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation),” the attorney-general said.

Malami said this, among others, gave rise to the insinuation of fraudulent conspiracies right from the conception of the agreement.

The official said his country, through the contract, had been subjected to unnecessary economic sabotage and investigation would unravel those involved in the deal.

Nigeria’s apex bank chief Godwin Emefiele also said there was no record that the controversial contract was executed.

“If you are bringing in machines into the country to execute a contract, you must have filled certain forms and pay some money through the central bank,” Emefiele said, adding the bank did not have any information to show that the company brought in “one cent into the country for the purported project.”

Nigerian government said it would seek for a stay of execution, defending its rights, while taking the necessary steps to appeal the decision of the British court. Enditem

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