P&ID: EFCC Arraigns Ex-Ministry Of Petroleum Director Over Alleged Bribery, Other Charges

A former Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Grace Taiga, was arraigned on Friday before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory. Taiga is arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over her alleged involvement in the signing of the controversial gas supply contract between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and an Irish firm, Processes and Industrial Development (P&ID). Her arraignment is coming barely 24 hours after the conviction of the P&ID by the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court,  on economic sabotage, money laundering and tax evasion amongst others. Mrs Taiga who was arraigned on an eight-count bordering on criminal breach of trust and gratification among others entered a not guilty plea. The EFCC in the charge specifically accused Mrs Taiga of signing the said agreement without obtaining approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) or a certificate of no objections from the bureau of public procurement as required by law. She also pleaded not guilty to receiving the sum of $20,000 as a bribe to facilitate the failed agreement. Following her not guilty plea, counsel to the EFCC, Bala Sanga, asked that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending the commencement of trial. Sanga, in addition, asked for an adjournment to enable the prosecution to call its witnesses to prove the charge against the defendant. However attempt by her lawyer, Mr Ola Olanipekun, to move an oral application for her bail was turned down by the court. Similar request that the defendant be remanded in EFCC custody was rejected following an objection by the EFCC counsel. The trial judge, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi,  ordered that she be remanded in Suleja prison pending the hearing and determination of the bail application. Olanipekun had pleaded that the oral application for bail be taken on account of the failing health of Taiga as she is said to be suffering from multiple health conditions including, diabetes, blood pressure, kidney diseases among others. Taiga whom according to her lawyer had been in the sickbay of the EFCC was said to have collapsed on her way to court for the arraignment. The matter has been adjourned till September 25 for the hearing of her bail application. In a chat with journalists after the sitting, the prosecutor Bala Sanga said that even though quite a number of former government officials who put the country in this mess are late, every single one of them who is alive will be brought before the court to face the law.


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