The EFCC, on Monday, re-arraigned a British national, James Nolan, before Justice Donatus Okorowo of a Federal High Court, Abuja.
The EFCC re-arraigned Nolan, alongside two others, on amended 32-count charge bordering on money laundering.
While the two companies, Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI), and ICIL Limited are 1st and 2nd defendants, Nolan is the 3rd defendant in the case.
He was re-arraigned for his involvement in the controversial contract awarded to Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID).
The re-arraignment followed the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, to the Warri division of the court early in the year.
When the matter was called, counsel to the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho, informed the court that he had a 32-count charge filed before the court on Nov. 20, 2019, and applied that the charges be read to the defendants for their plea to be taken.
Mr Nolan, who is a director in 1st and 2nd defendants and who previously took plea on behalf of these companies when the matter was before Justice Abang, however declined to take plea on behalf of the firms.
Nolan’s lawyer, Michael Ajara, also informed the court that he was not representing the 1st and 2nd defendants at the proceeding.
But Iheanacho urged the court to enter a plea of non-guilty with respect to the counts affecting the 1st and 2nd defendants based on Section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.
He further informed the court that on the Supreme Court Authority of Effiom v the State, the counsel need not be present when plea of the accused person is being taken.
Justice Okorowo then directed the registrar to read the counts to the defendants.
While plea of not guilty was entered for the companies, the 3rd defendant also pleaded not guilty.
After the plea, the prosecutor applied for a trial date and Ajara urged the court to grant bail to the Nolan, who was already on bail granted by Justice Abang and varied by the Court of Appeal.
Consequently, the judge granted bail to the 3rd defendant in line with the terms stated in the judgment of the appellant court which varied the terms of bail granted by Abang.
Okorowo adjourned the matter until Dec. 13 for commencement of trial.
The anti-graft agency had, on Nov. 21, 2019, re-arraigned Nolan.
The Briton, with his co-accused person, Adam Quinn (who is still at large), was first docked on Oct. 21, 2019, on a 16 count-charge of money laundering.
The defendants are both directors of the two companies, which were allegedly used for money laundering.
Nolan is also said to be a signatory to P&ID accounts.
It would be recalled that P&ID had approached a British court to seek compensation, claiming the Nigeria government breached a 2010 gas contract agreement.
The government had contracted P&ID to build gas processing facilities around Calabar, Cross River.
According to the contract, the government was required to supply wet gas of up to 400 million cubic feet daily.
The court initially granted the firm an arbitral award of $6.6 billion. But the figure rose to about $9 billion with an additional $2.3 billion in accumulated interest at 7 per cent rate, after Nigeria refused to enter an appeal for more than five years after the original ruling.
The Nigerian government had appealed the British court ruling and secured an order delaying the execution of the court judgment.
The government says the contract was fraudulent ab initio and that both parties (including the Nigerian officials who signed for Nigeria) signed it to defraud the Nigerian government.
The contract was said to have been signed by Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who has various corruption cases against her.
She is currently in London where she is being investigated for money laundering.
A former petroleum ministry official who signed the contract as a witness is also being prosecuted.