Ikechukwu Nnochir – Abuja
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Apo, on Friday, remanded a former Director, of Legal Services, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Grace Taiga, in prison over the alleged role she played in the activities that resulted in the controversial $9.6billion Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) judgment debt.
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi ordered that the defendant be taken to Suleja Prison in Niger State after she pleaded not guilty to an eight-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC,) preferred against her.
EFCC had alleged that the erstwhile Director received bribe through her offshore bank account for signing the alleged fraudulent Gas Supply Processing Agreement between the P&ID and the Federal Government.
She was said to have signed the documents alongside the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, the late Dr. Rilwan Lukman.
Taiga allegedly signed as Nigeria’s witness to the agreement, while Lukman, signed as Nigeria’s representative.
The prosecution told the court that the defendant violated various laws by entering into the gas supply agreement without prior approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and a certificate of no objection to the contract from the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
Shortly after she pleaded not guilty to the charge, the defendant, through her lawyer, Mr. Ola Olanipekun, (SAN), urged the court to allow her to remain in custody of the EFCC, saying she was suffering from hypertension and diabetes.
However, EFCC’s lawyer, Bala Sanga, opposed the request, arguing the proper place to remand a defendant after arraignment was the prison.
Justice Adeniyi agreed with the prosecution and ordered that the defendant should be remanded in Suleja prison.
The court , however, stressed that Taiga should be accorded proper medical attention while in custody and pending the determination of her bail application.
The case was adjourned till September 25 for the hearing of her bail application.