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Friday, 20 September 2019

BREAKING: Court sends ex-Petroleum Ministry’s senior official to prison over $9.6bn judgement

BREAKING: Court sends ex-Petroleum Ministry’s senior official to prison over $9.6bn judgement

*To hear Mrs. Taiga's bail application Sept 25

Gratuities not taxable, declares Tax Appeal Tribunal

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Apo, Abuja has ordered that a former Director, Legal Services of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Grace Taiga be remanded in Suleja prison, in Niger State.

Mrs. Taiga, who was arraigned before the court on Friday on an eight-count charge of bribery, among others, is to remain in prison until September 25, 2019 when her bail application would be heard.

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Upon her arraignment on Friday, Mrs. Taiga pleaded not guilty to the charge in which she was, among others, accused of receiving bribe, through her offshore bank account in signing the Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) between P&ID Limited and the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Petroleum Resources Ministry on January 11, 2019, and over which an arbitration panel, which sat in London awarded about $9.6billion damages against Nigeria.

After she pleaded to the charge, filed and being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), her lawyer, Ola Olanipekun (SAN), prayed the court to allow his client to be remanded in the custody of EFCC pending the determination of her bail application, on the grounds that she was suffering from hypertension and diabetes.

Lead prosecuting lawyer, Bala Sanga however objected to Olanipelun’s request and argued that the proper place to remand a defendant, whose plea had been taken, is prison custody.

In a ruling, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi upheld Sanga’s argument and ordered that the defendant be remanded in Suleja prison.

Justice Adeniyi directed that the defendant be accorded due medical treatment while she is in custody, pending the hearing and determination of her bail application.

The judge subsequently scheduled September 25 for the hearing of her bail application.

The EFCC also accused Mrs. Taiga violating various laws by entering into the GSPA without prior approval by the Federal Executive Council and a certificate of no-objection to the contract from the Bureau of Public Enterprise.

The charge is in relation to the controversial Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA), in respect of which a British court upheld P&ID claim to the $9.6bn damages awarded against Nigeria by an arbitration tribunal

The EFCC alleged that Mrs. Taiga signed as Nigeria’s witness to the GSPA while the then Minister who was the head of the Ministry, Rilwan Lukman (now late), signed as Nigeria’s representative.

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