The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered the closure of operations of Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) and P&ID Nigeria Limited (P&ID) and its assets forfeited to the federal government.
Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order following the arraignment of the companies and two of its directors on Thursday by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“An order is hereby made for the second convict to be wound up and its assets forfeited to the Federal Government,” Justice Ekwo said.
The judge gave the ruling after the representatives of the companies pleaded guilty to the 11 charges brought against them by the anti-graft agency.
They pleaded guilty to intent to defraud by obtaining property from the Cross River State government, and a second count of obtaining land from the state government with the intent to defraud, as well as ‘count three’ for conspiring with certain individuals to commit a felony by dealing with petroleum product without the appropriate licence.
The defendants also pleaded guilty to ‘count four’ which was a similar charge to ‘count three’, as well as pleaded guilty to counts five, and count six which bordered on the charges of tax evasion.
They pleaded guilty to count seven, and count eight of concealing the origin of over N3 million operated by P&ID when they knew that the money formed part of proceeded of an unlawful act.
The companies pleaded guilty to count nine that between January and December 2009, they concealed the unlawful origin of over N2 million in a commercial bank when they reasonably ought to know that the proceeds formed part of their unlawful act of tax evasion.
They pleaded guilty to concealing the origin of over N1 million in a commercial bank operated by P&ID when they ought to reasonably know that it formed part of proceeds of tax evasion by the company.
The defendants also pleaded guilty to the last ‘count 11’ for failing to comply with the requirements of submitting a declaration of their activities to the Ministry of Trade and Investment.
Earlier, Umar Babangida who identified himself as a Chief Superintendent of Police and an investigator with the EFCC said he commenced investigation into the matter following a petition received by the anti-crime agency.
According to him, the deal took place under two persons who are now late – Dr Rilwanu Luckman and Micheal Quinn – on behalf of P&ID and witnessed by Mr Kuchazi on behalf of the company.
He said there was an agreement for P&ID to build a processing plant in Cross River State after the company stated in the Memorandum of Understanding with the government that they had a piece of land in Cross River.
Babangida, however, stated that investigations indicated that there was intent by the company to acquire the land but it never fell through.
He added that an investigation with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) indicated that the first defendant was a director of the company with nine million shares and that the company paid tax and Vat of N3 million naira, as against a little above N13 million naira VAT due.
According to him, he also extended investigation to claims that the Special Declaration Unit of the company registered with the office but it was discovered that they were never registered.
Babangida told the court that a complementary card belonging to Mr Kuchazzi showed that he was the commercial director of P&ID British Virgin Islands.
The statements of the witness were admitted as evidence.
In his ruling, Justice Ekwo said, ”I have reviewed the evidence tendered in this court. I have taken note of the plea of guilty and it is upon this premise that I find the first and second defendant guilty as charged.
“Both defend at are convicted in charge 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10,” he ruled, while only the second defendant was convicted of ‘count 11’.
“I have listened to the parties in this case. Being that the entities involved are corporate entities, the punishments to be meted to them are enshrined in the law.”
He consequently ordered that the companies be wound up and their assets be “forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
With additional report from Channels