By Fortune Eromosele

Trial of former Director Legal Services of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Grace Taiga, continued yesterday before Justice O. A Adeniyi of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja with the testimony of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, fourth prosecution witness, Aminu Lawal.

At the resumed proceedings, the prosecution presented a thirteen-count amended charge which was read to the defendant.

Count 12 of the charge reads: “That you GRACE TAIGA (former Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) on or about the 30th of December, 2009 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court corruptly received the sum of USD4969.5 (Four Thousand Nine Hundred and Sixty-nine United States Dollars, Five Cents paid by Marshpearl Limited, a company controlled by the owners and promoters of Process and Industrial Development (P&ID)- into HSBC bank account of your daughter, Enameg Vera Moses Taiga domiciled at No.8, Canada Square, London branch of HSBC in relation to Gas Supply and Processing Agreement(GSPA) between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and P&ID( a company incorporated and existing under the laws of the British Virgin Island) which led to the execution of the GSPA sometime in the year 2010 and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 8(1)(a) and (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act,2000”.

Count 13 reads, “That you GRACE TAIGA (former Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) on or about the 30th of January, 2012 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court corruptly received the sum of USD 5000 (Five Thousand United States Dollars) paid by Kristholm Limited- a company controlled by the owners and promoters of Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID)- into the HSBC account of your daughter, Enameg Vera Moses Taiga domiciled at No.8 Canada Square, London branch of HSBC, on account of the favour you already showed P&ID in relation to the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) executed between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources of the Federal Government of Nigeria and P&ID ( a company incorporated and existing under the laws of the British Virgin Island) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 8(1)(a) and (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000”.

The defendant however, pleaded “not guilty”, to the charges.

Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mohammed Abbah, the PW4 Aminu Lawal, an operative of the EFCC, told the court that the team received a petition dated June 28, 2018, signed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, conveying the directive of Mr. President that investigation surrounding the circumstances of the Gas Processing Supply Agreement, GSPA, should be carried out.

He said, “I came to know the defendant when the investigation commenced. I discovered that she witnessed the GSPA. She also drafted the GSPA when she was at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources as Director Legal.”

The witness further told the court that the team discovered a lot of discrepancies including an unsigned agreement between the Ministry of Defence and Khristolm Limited.

He added that, “We discovered one unsigned agreement between the Ministry of Defense and Khristolm Limited, a company owned and controlled by P&ID Limited and the promoters of P&ID are Michael Quinn, Brendan Cahill, James Nolan and Niel Hitchob.

“We wrote a letter of investigation to the Ministry of Defence to give us the details of the contract awarded to the companies that are related to P&ID. Investigation revealed that Marsh Pearl Limited were given contract in which the defendant witnessed the agreement between the Ministry of Defence and Marsh Pearl Limited sometime in 2005.”

The prosecution revealed the team discovered that, on December 30, 2019 the defendant, Grace Taiga, received $4,969.50 (Four Thousand Nine Hundred and Sixty-nine United States Dollars, Fifty Cents) through her daughter, Vera Ename Moses Taiga.

Lawal explained that, “The money was paid by Marsh Pearl Ltd, through her daughter’s account eleven days before the signing of the GSPA.

“We discovered that on January 30, 2012, the sum of $5,000 (Five Thousand United States Dollars) was also paid into her daughter’s account at HSBC Bank, London, located at Canada Street. The purpose of the payment on the transaction is commission payment. We obtained her statement based on that.”

Documents which included search Warrant, the response from the Ministry of Defence, Details of Transactions and Certificate of Compliance were tendered in evidence and admitted by the court.

When the witness was discharged from the witness box, the case was thereafter adjourned till March 8 and 16, 2022 for cross-examination of the witness.

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