The Nigerian government has explained that at resumption of office in 2015 the only opinion it considered practicable regarding the controversial contract with the Projects and Industrial Development company (P&ID) was to negotiate.
Speaking with journalists on Sunday, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami said the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, which signed the deal with the British firm, committed “fraud”, the Nation Newspaper reports.
The controversial contract formed the basis of a $9.6 billion judgement debt against Nigeria in July.
Mr Malami said the Buhari administration was investigating the matter and the findings of the investigations might result in a substantial international prosecution of the parties that birthed the contract.
“The truth of the matter was that as at the time we came on board as a government, there was already in existence of an award and a quantum determination of about $6.9billion. As at the time we came in place, the time with which could have appealed had already elapsed. There was no time for us to appeal because the previous administration had not appealed against the award when it was made in June 2014.
“So, with the lapsing of the time to appeal, you could not have filed an application to either set aside the award or to stay execution as of right. You require the leave of the tribunal to appeal the award. And that leave could have been very difficult process because Nigeria as at then could have been adjudged to have slept over its right to appeal which you could do within a regulated time,” Mr Malami was quoted by the paper as saying.
The Attorney General of the Federation was probably reacting to claim that the Buhari administration did nothing to rescue the situation.
He said the Buhari administration was bent on ensuring that Nigeria does not suffer from the contract which he said was a “scam.”
Although Mr Malami declined to say the names of those being investigated, he said that the investigation would not neglect to involve every person that acted to create the controversial contract.
According to The Nation, Mr Malami said Nigeria was committed to fulfilling its contractual obligations with international business partners but would not subject the country to cross-border fraud.
Mr Malami was also queried the motive behind the failure of the past government to allow the then ministry of justice to vet the contract.
Other questions raised by Mr Malami, according to the report include, the reason behind the failure of government to secure an approval of the federal executive council, FEC, and why the government failed to include the NNPC, NPDC and IOC’s who were expected to supply the gas component of the agreement as parties to the contract, among others.