22 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu may be convicted and fined the sum of N500, 000 for wrongful denial of access to Certified True Copy, CTC of interim report on the investigation of Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, GINL concerning and/or relating to the company’s operations and activities in the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL and National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO.
This is contained in the originating summons filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja in a suit No. FHC/ABJ/cs/674/17 on Friday July 21, 2017 between plaintiffs (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) and the defendant (Economic and Financial Crime Commission) obtained by our correspondent.
The plaintiffs claim an order of the court directing and/or compelling the defendant to furnish the first plaintiffs with Certified True Copies of documents and further information relating to and/or concerning the defendant’s investigative activities of GINL.
The plaintiffs had On 13th June, 2017 in a letter to the defendant made a request for the CTC of interim report on the investigation of Global Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, GINL concerning and/or relating to the company’s operations and activities in the concession of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, ASCL and National Iron Ore Mining Company, NIOMCO and information as to the status or stage of prosecution of the company in relation to the alleged criminal activities in its operation of the Concession Agreement.
The Originating Summons states that by the provisions of Section 7 (1) – (5) of Freedom of Information Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2011 the defendant and/Or its acting chairman have committed an offence and liable to be convicted for denying the first plaintiffs access to information and therefore entitled to pay the sum of N500, 000 fine for such wrongful denial of access to information requested by the plaintiffs via his letter of 13th June 2017.
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 of late President Musa Yar’adua cancelled the controversial concessioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL)and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe to the Indian firm Global Infrastructure (Nigeria) Limited (GIHL) for “breach of agreement and unwholesome practices”.
President Umaru Musa Yar’adua also ordered the arrest and prosecution of all government officials and the promoters of GIHL indicted for asset stripping in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (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 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 cannibalization and exportation of plants and equipment.
In deciding to rescind the agreements, Adeniyi explained, the 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.