The Federal Government has been urged to arrest and prosecute former government officials connected with the ill-fated Gas Plant project contract the country signed with an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID).
The Executive Secretary, Anti-Corruption and Research-Based Data Initiative
(ARDI), Dr Dennise Aghanya gave the advice in a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.
Aghanya, whose anti-graft outfit investigated Justice Walter Onnoghen, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on fraud said the P&ID contract was a scam aided by some unpatriotic citizens to swindle the country.
A British court on Aug.6 granted approval for the firm to seize the country’s assets abroad worth US 9.6 billion dollars.
The company was awarded US 6.6 billion dollars in an arbitration decision over a failed project to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, during late president Umar Yar’Adua’s tenure in office.
“It is heart-breaking to read Reno Omokri, former aide to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan attributing the failure of Nigerian Government to act promptly and avert this development to failure of leadership by Buhari’s administration.
“At what point should we as concerned citizens separate politics from leadership so that we can build an ideal society for ourselves?
“The administration that initiated the contract should have guided it to a logical conclusion if it was well-intended in the first place,’’ he said.
Aghanya further said the narrative by Omokri alleging that Jonathan sent Diezani Allison-Madueke, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and some other officials to Ireland to negotiate an out of court settlement and to later abandon such negotiation showed the extent of dereliction of duty.
“In fact, the negotiation that saw P&ID agreeing to take 850 million dollars instead of six billion dollars early 2015 was not enough excuse to exonerate the administration of its carelessness that brought about this mess.
He therefore called on the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to open investigation into the matter with a view to prosecuting ex-officials of government who were directly and indirectly involved in the P&ID hoax contract.
“The AGF should without delay invite the EFCC to commence probe and prosecution of officials of the past administration who structured the contract with P&ID and failed to take corrective measures when it became obvious that the contract was not working.
“When would government officials in this country realise that the interest of the country should come first in all official negotiations?
“ It has become a norm for persons in positions of authority, either as civil servants or political appointees to see public offices as means of amassing wealth rather than rendering service for public interest.
“We, therefore, encourage the president to beam his searchlight on the activities of officials of past administrations without blinking.
“The president must act without consideration to political affiliation as his fight against corruption takes enters the second phase in the schedule of this government.
“In Republic of China, economic sabotage attracts death penalty and we should begin to contemplate that level of stiff penalty in this country.
“We wish to commend the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for his stance that the judgement by the British Commercial must be set aside because of the dire consequences of allowing the implementation of such judgement on the country’s economy.
“We should be smart enough to evolve an alternative plan by not depending totally on the outcome of our intended appeal to challenge this judgment,’’ he said.
Aghanya explained that the government should immediately commence an out of court negotiation with the judgment creditor by negotiating for an alternative contract to compensate them.
He said such arrangement would enable the company to recoup the judgement sum in about a year or two in place of direct payment that would subject the country to intensive economic hemorrhage.
“At the moment, no court in Europe or America will be sympathetic to us over this matter, considering the country’s worrisome image accentuated by corruption and fraud in recent time overseas.
“To them, this is an opportunity long-awaited.