27 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, may be convicted and fined N500,000 for wrongful denial of access to the Certified True Copy, CTC, of interim report on the investigation of Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, GINL’s, operations and activities in the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL, and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO.
This is the subject of an originating summons filed last week at the Federal High Court in Abuja in a suit No. FHC/ABJ/cs/674/17 obtained by our correspondent.
The plaintiffs are Sulaiman Abdurraheem ESQ, Natasha Akpoti ESQ, Nigerian Metallurgical Society, African Iron and Steel Association, Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria, and Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria while the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, is the defendant.
The plaintiffs had on June 13, 2017, in a letter to the defendant, made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for access to the CTC of the interim report, a request the defendant had denied them.
According to the provisions of Section 7 (1) – (5) of the Freedom of Information Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2011, the defendant and its acting chairman have committed an offence and are liable to a fine of N500,000 for denying the plaintiffs access to their request.
The plaintiffs are demanding an order of the Federal High Court directing the defendant to furnish them with the requested document and further information relating to the defendant’s investigative activities of GINL.
The defendant is expected to respond within 30 days after service of the summons.
It would be recalled that on April 2, 2008, the Federal Executive Council under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua cancelled the controversial concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company to the Indian firm, Global Infrastructure (Nigeria) Limited, GIHL for “breach of agreement and unwholesome practices”.
GINL, which now runs ASCL and NIOMCO, is a sister company to and an offshoot of GIHL.
President Yar’Adua also ordered the arrest and prosecution of all government officials and the promoters of GIHL indicted for asset stripping in the EFCC interim report on the concessioning/sale of ASCL, NIOMCO and the Delta Steel Company.
A statement issued by the then Special Adviser on Communication to the President, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, said an interim managements would be established by the Federal Government for ASCL and NIOMCO pending the determination of all issues arising from the cancellation of the concession agreements with GIHL.
“After considering the report of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry established by the Yar’adua administration to review the concession agreements and determine the extent of compliance by both parties, the council agreed with its finding that the agreements were largely skewed in favour of the concessionaire to the detriment of the Federal Government of Nigeria”, Adeniyi said.
He said the council also “agreed with the panel’s conclusion that any benefits that might have accrued to the government and people of Nigeria from the implementation of the agreements have been thwarted by breaches and unwholesome practices by GIHL.”
According to him, the administrative panel of inquiry indicted GIHL for breaches of the concessionary agreements, including failure to submit a workable business plan within the specified time frame, non-payment of concessionary fees as well as the cannibalisation and exportation of plants and equipment.
In deciding to rescind the agreements, Adeniyi explained, government also noted that the purported Share Sales Purchase Agreement, SSPA, between it and GIHL in respect of ASCL “is technically not in force because the transfer of shares to the purchase was never effected.”
“The summary of statutory obligations outstanding against GIHL was put at N350 million. The panel also discovered that instead of investing external funds on the completion of both projects as expected, GIHL embarked on massive borrowing from local commercial banks, pledging the assets of the Delta Steel Company as collateral”, he stated.
He added that the panel reported that GIHL currently owes the banks about $192 million and that “the general impression is that GIHL has been diminishing the values of ASCL and NIOMCO to buoy up their fortunes.”
According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria has also been directed to establish the total amount borrowed by GIHL from Nigerian banks, determine the amount actually utilised locally, and the amount taken out of the country by the company.