The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday demanded to see the death certificate of a former Director of Legal, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Grace Taiga.
Taiga’s lawyer, Daniel Alumun, had on November 4, 2023, informed the Federal Capital Territory High Court that his client had died.
Taiga is standing trial before Justice Olukayode Adeniyi on allegations bordering on bribery in the controversial Gas Supply Processing Agreement between Process and Industrial Development and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
She was first arraigned on September 20, 2019, in the case marked, FCT/HC/CR/504/19. The further amendments to the charges, Taiga was subsequently re-arraigned twice on October 3, 2020, and January 10, 2021.
In the 13-count amended charge preferred against her by the anti-graft agency, Taiga was accused of receiving a bribe through her offshore bank account in signing the controversial GPSA.
The EFCC claimed that she violated various laws by entering into the agreement without the approval of the Federal Executive Council and without obtaining a Certificate of No Objection to the contract from the Bureau of Public Enterprise.
She, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The EFCC closed its case on February 27, 2023, after calling eight witnesses.
The court then adjourned till November 4, 2023 for the defendant to open her defence.
However, when the case resumed on November 4, 2023, Taiga’s lawyer, Alumun, told the court that the defendant had died on August 1, 2023, at a hospital in Abuja.
Alumum then urged the judge to dismiss the case, a prayer that the EFCC expressed reservation about.
When the case came up on Wednesday, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mohammed Hussain, insisted that Tiaga’s death certificate must be produced before the court.
“My Lord, the certificate must be brought to the court as stipulated by the law before any decision can be taken,” the prosecutor said.
But Taiga’s counsel told the court that the death certificate was not ready and pleaded with the court to give him time to produce it.
Justice Adeniyi, consequently, adjourned the matter till March 6, for further report on the death certificate.
In October last year, a London arbitration court set aside an $11bn award secured by P&ID against Nigeria over the failed gas processing plant contract.
Justice Robert Knowles held that the process through which P&ID secured the 2010 contract to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State, was fraudulent.
The judge, however, dismissed the allegation that Nigerian lawyers worked against the country’s interest by aiding P&ID.
“Notwithstanding Nigeria’s allegations, I have not found Nigeria’s lawyers in the arbitration to be corrupt. However, the case has shown examples where legal representatives did not do their work to the standard needed, where experts failed to do their work, and where politicians and civil servants failed to ensure that Nigeria as a state participated properly in the arbitration,” the judge said.
Consequent upon the decision by the London court, the Federal Government has withdrawn the criminal charges filed against a former Attorney General of Lagos State, Supo Shasore (SAN), who was involved in the case.