An EFCC witness, Umar Babangida, on Monday told an FCT High Court, that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) neither signed nor approved the controversial Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) that led to a 9.6 billion dollars liability judgment against Nigeria.
Babangida told the court that the GSPA was signed between Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
Babangida stated this while being cross-examined by Ola Olanipekun SAN, counsel for a former Director, Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Grace Taiga.
EGCC dragged Taiga before Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, on an eight-count charge bordering on bribery.
She was accused of receiving bribe through her offshore bank account in signing the controversial gas supply processing agreement.
The EFCC further alleged that Taiga violated various laws by entering into the controversial GSPA without prior approval by FEC and a certificate of no-objection to the contract from the Bureau of Public Enterprise (PBE).
The EFCC also alleged that she signed as Nigeria’s witness to the GSPA while the then Minister of Petroleum, late Alhaji Rilwan Lukman, signed as Nigeria’s representative.
She, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against her.
The witness added that an investigation revealed that requisite approvals were not obtained before signing.
“Our investigation revealed that the necessary due diligence to process the project by obtaining requisite approvals from the FEC, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission approval, the Bureau of Public Procurement approval and Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation were not obtained.”
He stated that it was discovered through investigation that the controversial contract was a solicited contract.
The witness added that it was solicited by Michael Payne through an old-time friend of the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr Mohammed Kuchazi.
He added further that there were no tenders for the contract, saying that, “it was through a mere proposal sent to the minister that the contract was approved.”
Babangida said the late Dr Lukman, however, raised a technical committee, headed by Taofik Tijani, to review the proposal.
He added that it was on the basis of its review that the minister approved the contract.
Babangida informed the court that Tijani told EFCC that he supplied the technical details of the GSPA, though he denied some details of the Agreement when confronted with them.
“The EFCC invited all the members of the technical committee to explain the role each of them played in the controversial contract,” he said.
Babangida told the court that as of the time they conducted the investigation, Lukman had died but those they interacted with, including the defendant, confirmed that they received instructions from the late minister.
The witness further told the court that based on what the defendant told investigators, EFCC wrote to the Federal Ministry of Justice to provide it with the file for the contract.
Though he insisted that Taiga received money to favour P&ID, when asked to read from some exhibits before the court, the witness said the defendant received money through her accounts five, eight and seven years respectively after the GSPA was signed.
“All the payments were made after the contract was terminated and there was a dispute between P&ID and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.”
He added that late Dr. Lukman had the power to award and approve the contract and not Taiga, who he said was a legal practitioner.
After listening to the testimony, Justice Adeniyi adjourned the matter until Tuesday for continuation of hearing.