Anti-corruption agency, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), is set to testify against former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Alfa Begore, over his alleged role in the $9.6bn judgment awarded against Nigeria.
HEDA Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, told newsmen on Tuesday he was invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), after he submitted his September 30, 2019 petition to adopt the content and give assurance about his availability to testify in the case.
Suraju said, “After we submitted the petition, we received a call from the bureau inviting us to appear to adopt the petition as ours and to assure it that we would be ready to honour further invitations if we are needed and to testify in the event that the matter gets to court.
“I appeared before the Intelligence, Enforcement and Investigations department of the bureau on October 4, 2019 and signed documents adopting the content of the petition as our own and assuring them that the content was true to the best of our knowledge. We also gave them all assurances they requested, including that we would be available to testify in the case.”
The group had in its petition sent to the CCB and President Muhammadu Buhari accused Belgore of charges including conflict of interest as a result of his roles in the proceedings leading to the award of $9.6bn in favour of a British Virgin Island firm, Process and Industrial Developments.
The award was, in January 2017, issued by a British arbitration tribunal in London in favour of P&ID and against Nigeria over the country’s alleged breach of a gas supply contract.
Belgore, who had been reportedly invited for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over his roles in the case, was said to have given expert evidence before the arbitration panel in favour of P&ID leading to the humongous sum of $9.6bn awarded in favour of the foreign firm.
The arbitral award was subsequently affirmed by a London court in August this year.
HEDA, referring to Belgore’s roles in the case, said in its petition sent to the CCB that “there is a clear case of conflict of interest which is backed up constitutionally by the Code of Conduct for Public Officers”.
“Specifically, Section 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which states that a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities,” Suraju stated.
He added that Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution “directly prohibits former Presidents, Vice Presidents, Chief Justice of Nigeria, governors and deputy governors from working for foreign companies or enterprises”.
The petitioner noted that Belgore remained the chairman of the National Merit Honour Award Committee which conferred duty of patriotism and loyalty to the country on him.
He noted that Belgore is a member of the Council of State comprising the incumbent President, past Presidents and Heads of State, former CJNs, President of the Senate, Speaker of House of Representatives and all governors of the 36 states.
“By working for PI&D and proffering the expert advice for the British company, the former CJN violated the provisions of the Constitution and also exposed privileged and sensitive national information to foreign private company.
“It can be concluded, without equivocation, that drafters of the Constitution understand the weight of the offices occupied by the prohibited officers and the potential implication of actions such as taken by the former CJN.
“The act he allegedly committed is grave and amounts to a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, thereby violating the provisions of the Constitution,” he said.
The petitioner prayed that the former CJN “be prosecuted immediately by the Code of Conduct Bureau before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for violating Section 5 of the Constitution”.
He also prayed that the former CJN “be removed with immediate effect as Chairman of the National Merit Honour Committee” and stripped of his national honour of Grand Commander of the Niger as a result of the alleged breach.