UPDATED: Court winds-up P&ID, local affiliate

Court, KogiUpon their conviction on Thursday, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the winding-up of a controversial engineering firm, Process and Industrial Development Limited and its affiliate in Nigeria, P&ID Nigeria Limited.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of their assets and properties to the Federal Government.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, before whose court the firms pleaded guilty to an 11-count charge of fraud and tax evasion, gave the orders after convicting them on Thursday.

The charge filed on behalf of the Federal Government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is in respect of the firms’ unlawful conduct in relation to the controversial Gas Supply Project Agreement (GSPA), over which an arbitration tribunal that sat in London awarded damages estimated at about $9.6billion against Nigeria.

They were, among others, accused of fraudulently claiming to have acquired land from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the Gas Supply Project Agreement (GSPA).

The two companies were represented at the arraignment earlier on Thursday by Mohammad Kuchazi, described as Commercial Director, P&ID Ltd, Virgin Island, and Adamu Usman, identified as representative of P&ID Nigeria Limited.

The two men pleaded guilty to the charge. While Usman, who is a lawyer represented himself, Kuchazi was represented by a lawyer, Dandison Akurunwua.

Upon the defendants’ guilty pleas, the prosecution, led by Bala Sanga called its sole witness, Usman Babangida, an EFCC investigator, who mounted the witness box, for the review of facts, which the defence team did not object to.

Also, the defence did not object to the prosecution’s tendering of documents relating to the 2010 GSPA and EFCC’s investigation activities, which the judge admitted in evidence.

At the conclusion of the prosecution’s presentation, Justice Ekwo proceeded to convict both firms.

Akurunwua, while praying the court to be lenient with his client, urged the court to consider “the forthrightness and candour” of P&ID by pleading guilty and not wasting the time of the court in the trial.

Usman, representing the P&ID Nigeria Limited, both as its personality and lawyer, equally spoke in similar manner.

Responding, Sanga prayed the court to order the winding-up of the firms in sentencing them.

In his judgment, Justice Ekwo held that the position of the law, in view of the facts, evidence and the defendant’s guilty plea, the orders for the court to make are for the winding up of the companies and forfeiture of their assets.

The judge proceeded to order the forfeiture of “the assets and properties” of the two firms to the Nigerian government.

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