P&ID Case: Magu should be celebrated, given a heroic commendation – Wahab Shittu
Wahab Shittu, lawyer to the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, has described the UK court’s verdict in the case against Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) as a victory for his client.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Shittu said the court’s decision showed the result of a detailed and thorough investigation done by the EFCC led by Mr Magu.
“It is a monumental landmark achievement occasioned by Magu’s hard work and leadership style.
“The judgment has indeed greatly relieved the country from the impending and disastrous effect that the execution of the $9.6 billion judgment plus interest, would have had on our fragile economy,” he said.
Shittu further stated that the decision shows that “rather than punish Mr Magu over his handling of the investigation, he should be given a heroic commendation for saving the country in a huge way”.
According to him, Magu should be celebrated rather than being vilified. “It is rather unfortunate that the handling of P&ID investigation forms part of the allegations against him which led to his suspension,” he added.
On January 31, 2017, a tribunal had ruled that Nigeria should pay P&ID $6.6 billion as damages, as well as pre- and post-judgment interest at 7 per cent.
Subsequently, the Federal Government approached the court to establish that the contract was awarded on illegal terms.
The country has continued to make moves to overturn the judgement and has gotten court clearance to request documents from a P&ID stakeholder and review bank statements of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, as well as that of former petroleum ministers, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Rilwanu Lukman.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on August 18, arraigned James Nolan, a Briton, and six companies over their alleged involvement in the contract.
On September 3, Nigeria secured a landmark victory after Ross Cranston, a judge of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, granted its application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.
The statement reads in full:
P&ID saga: UK court verdict, victory for Magu – Wahab Shittu
Yesterday’s decision of the English court again shows the result of a detailed and thorough investigation done by the EFCC led by Mr. Magu.
It is a monumental landmark achievement occasioned by Magu’s hard work and leadership style. The judgment has indeed greatly relieved the country from the impending and disastrous effect that the execution of the $9.6b judgment plus interest would have had on our fragile economy.
The decision once more shows that rather than punish Mr Magu over his handling of the investigation, he should be given a heroic commendation for saving the country in a huge way. Magu should be celebrated rather than being vilified. It is rather unfortunate that the handling of the P&ID investigation forms part of the allegations against him. Magu which led to his suspension.
There is no gainsaying that the evidence relied on in arriving at the decision came from the EFCC under Mr. Magu. The English Judge was very satisfied with the way and manner the EFCC carried out its investigation when he held at paragraphs 253 and 254 of the judgment: “what occurred might have been the EFCC proceeding at its normal pace in the light of the resources allocated to it, the other inquiries it was conducting and conditions in Nigeria. By comparison, the position after August 2019 might be exceptional and prompted by the serious position Nigeria faced in the light of Butchers J’s decision on the enforcement application.
At this point, it is impossible to say. However, I cannot accept Mr. Mill’s (P&ID’s counsel) submission that there was no proper diligent investigation. The basic point is that there was no specific information such that Nigeria ought to have become aware of the building blocks of fraud now alleged.” Furthermore, the Judge observed in paragraph 251 that ” In my view, Mr Mill underplayed the work which was undertaken over the June 2018- August 2019period. In particular, there was the successful prosecution of P& ID and P& ID Nigeria on 19 September 2019 based on the groundwork undertaken during this fifteen-month period”.
Still underscoring the commendable work by the EFCC, the Judge concluded at page 260 that: ” …the fraud is complex in character and continuing.
Even on my preliminary examination, it comprises a number of quite different strands. What occurred, in this case, was deliberately concealed. Especially with international advisers it engaged, P& ID wore the cloak of legitimacy. In the circumstances which Nigeria has prima facie established it acted reasonably in its investigations…”
The public does not know that while this investigation was ongoing, the investigators and prosecutors including Magu used to close from work at 1am, 2am and resume by 8am including Saturdays and Sundays. Unfortunately, some of these men are currently on suspension without pay or transferred out of EFCC for doing nothing but working assiduously to save this country. They were not given any allegation or issued query.
Contrariwise, the investigation against Mr. Magu and the EFCC would have caused the country to lose the judgment. This is because P&ID used the petition by the AGF against Mr. Magu to strengthen their case with Nigeria. Luckily, we have an upright English Judge who prudently appreciated the excellent and patriotic effort of the EFCC under Magu and the ineffectiveness of the AGF’s complaint.