The Federal Government has alleged that the awarded 9.6 billion dollar judgment debt against Nigeria over a botched gas contract is a calculated attempt by international and local scammers to deplete the country’s rising foreign reserves.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the allegation on Friday when he featured on a TV Continental programme: “This Morning’’, monitored by newsmen.
“Anytime the foreign reserves of the country is rising, there is always this attempt by vultures that will come with one scam targeting the reserves.
“It is also important to state here that, these international scammers will not have succeeded without the collaboration of the people within.
“That is why the federal government is focusing its searchlight on this particular contract to unravel those behind the move to inflict economic injury on Nigeria and its people,’’ he said.
Mohammed said that 9.6 billion dollars (about N3.5 trillion) translate to 20 per cent of the nation’s foreign reserves.
The minister reiterated that the contract as conceived was designed to fail and there were deliberate efforts to circumvent all the checks and balances to prevent a breach.
Specifically, he said the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources which signed the contract had no technical knowledge and the capacity and competence to execute a gas contract of such magnitude.
The minister also disclosed that the contract was not approved by the then Federal Executive Council as required by law.
He said when the contract was signed in 2010, there were about seven other gas development projects that were signed about the time that followed due process.
Mohammed reassured that government would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the judgment is set aside, the case is resolved and Nigerian assets not attached.
A UK court had in a ruling authorised an Irish engineering and project management company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID), to seize 9.6 billion dollars in Nigerian assets over the failed contract.
The judgment was a fallout of the contract purportedly entered into in 2010 between the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID, and subsequent award made in July 2015 by an arbitration panel sitting in London in favour of the company.