JUST IN: Federal Gov’t Reveals How Firm Lured Ministers With Women Over $6bn Mambilla Power project

Federal Gov't Reveals How Firm Lured Ministers With Women Over $6bn Mambilla Power project

Federal Gov't Reveals How Firm Lured Ministers With Over $6bn Mambilla Power project

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The federal has revealed allegation of bribery and corruption against Leno Adesanya, the promoter of Sunrise Power and Transmission Company, in papers filed before a High Court of the (FCT) .

According to an online newspaper, TheCable, Olu Agunloye, a former minister of power, in his motion on notice, attached documents in which the federal government alleged that Adesanya offered and women to ministers in the immediate-past Muhammadu Buhari administration in trying to secure favourable recommendations on the $6billion Mambilla hydroelectric power project.

In January 2024, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Agunloye before a Federal High Court in Abuja over allegations of in the award of the contract in 2003.

Sunrise is in arbitration with Nigeria at the ICC International Court of Arbitration, Paris, , demanding $2.3 billion in compensation for the country's failure to honour the contract which was awarded by Agunloye — a day after the federal executive council (FEC) asked the then minister of power to step down the memo.

Nigeria is alleging fraud and corruption of public officials involved in the original contract award and also in the subsequent settlement agreements reached in an attempt to settle the dispute.

Nigeria is likening the conduct of Sunrise and its promoter to that of P&ID officials in the failed gas supply and processing agreement (GSPA) of 2010.

Despite securing an arbitration award rising to $11 billion against Nigeria, P&ID could not enforce it.

A UK court set it aside because public officials got illegal payments in the contracting process and this fact, considered by the judge as significant, had been hidden from the arbitration tribunal.

The court also ruled that P&ID was illegally in possession of privileged internal documents of the legal team during arbitration.

The P&ID case ended in victory for Nigeria — with the country's legal team now hoping this would be a precedent in arbitration cases arising from suspicious and questionable contract awards.

In the motion of notice dated February 26, 2024 and marked FCT/ABJ/CR/617/2023, Agunloye attached Nigeria's defence at the arbitration wherein the country alleged that Adesanya made repeated attempts to exploit and fraudulently extract huge sums of money from the country “on false pretences”.

“Mr. Adesanya repeatedly sought to undermine Nigeria's defence of this Arbitration by all means possible without regard to legality. As detailed below, Mr. Adesanya attempted to bribe the former Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu, in the lead-up to the settlement meeting between Sunrise and Nigeria in London on 9 November 2019 by offering him money and women and sought to bribe the former Attorney General of Nigeria and Abubakar Malami, also with money and women, in order to take decisions favourable to Sunrise and influence Nigeria's defence in this Arbitration,” the document reads, with screenshots of WhatsApp messages attached.

“A look at the pictures of smiling young women whom Mr. Adesanya blithely offered to Mr. Adamu in November 2019 during the settlement discussions and latterly the Attorney General as inducements, can leave no doubt about Mr. Adesanya's character.

“The below extract of Mr. Adesanya's WhatsApp message to Mr. Malami with a picture of a in November 2021, when Mr. Adesanya was lobbying Nigeria is illustrative,” he added.

Nigeria argued in the document that Adesanya is a “who fully understands” how to game and take advantage of the weaknesses in the institutions of the Nigerian government.

“He wrongfully procures contracts that his companies are incapable of performing, colludes with key Government officials to obtain confidential Government documents, creates a semblance of credibility through document exchanges with Government officials, files claims against the Government, and then unlawfully seeks to pressure the Government to enter into settlement agreements with his companies in order to obtain a pay-out,” the document reads.

Adesanya has been successful in obtaining contracts and bringing about settlement negotiations with the Nigerian Government on many occasions in the past. He has a track record of questionable settlements and not contract delivery.

“As regards Sunrise, Adesanya succeeded in getting a Minister of Power, Dr. Olu Agunloye, who is currently collaborating with Sunrise/Mr. Adesanya, to issue Sunrise an award letter contrary to the decision of the Federal Executive Council (“FEC”) chaired by the President of Nigeria;
succeeded in engineering another settlement negotiation leading to the signing of the Terms of Settlement and General Project Execution Agreement (“GPEA”) in 2012 between Sunrise and Nigeria; succeeded in engineering yet another settlement negotiation leading to the signing of the Terms of Settlement and Addendum to the Term[s] of Settlement (the “Settlement Agreements”) between Sunrise and Nigeria in 2020; almost succeeded in obtaining a pay-out from the Nigerian Government, but for the refusal of the Former President of Nigeria, President Buhari, to approve the settlement and the Ministry of Justice's vigorous defence of this.

“In all of these settlement deals, Mr. Adesanya, advised by his consortium of Nigerian and French law firms, insist on well-crafted arbitration clauses, in order to clothe those deals with legitimacy and provide the basis to file claims against Nigeria and in furtherance of his ‘arbitration business'. That is Mr. Adesanya's stock in trade: he simply finishes one settlement deal with the Nigerian Government and moves on to the next.”

President Buhari captured this vice well when he commented, in relation to the decision of the English Court in the P&ID case, and said: ‘It was definitely worth the struggle: this [P&ID] was an attempted heist of historic proportions, an attempt to steal from the treasury a third of Nigeria's foreign reserves. But even at this moment, we should note what the English judge cautioned. The arbitration process in London ‘was a shell that got nowhere near the truth.' We need better contracts, in the public and private sector. And we need greater transparency: the reality is that had P&ID not conjured up quite such an outlandish ransom, they may have found themselves in the same place as the myriad other invisible contractors who all too often quietly take Nigeria for many millions in out-of-court settlements.'”

Nigeria said if not for their “greed and outlandish claims”, Sunrise/Adesanya might have succeeded in obtaining a payout of $200 million as the price Nigeria was willing to pay for getting an important infrastructure project back on track and getting them out of the project.

“However, the price they wanted was unacceptable to President Buhari, who saw a parallel between Sunrise's claim in this Arbitration and P&ID Nigeria and therefore refused to approve any settlement deal with Sunrise,” the document reads.

Adesanya was accused of specifically requesting the removal of Nigeria's counsel in this arbitration in his direct messages to Malami.

“He even called for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (“EFCC”) to investigate Nigeria's counsel in this Arbitration for filing a request for security for costs against Sunrise,” Nigeria stated its in defence.

“Adesanya has actively tried to interfere with and prevent EFCC's investigation into his and Sunrise's involvement in the Mambilla Project by contacting witnesses who were invited for interview either directly or through his proxies and using his Nigerian counsel, BA Law, to coordinate this Arbitration and the satellite court action filed in Nigeria to block EFCC's investigation.”

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