By Adedapo Adesanya
The British national, Mr James Nolan, who jumped bail in the alleged $9.6 billion Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited scandal, on Monday, opened his defence in absentia without calling any witnesses.
Mr Nolan’s counsel, Mr Michael Ajara, told Justice Donatus Okorowo of a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja that he does not intend to call any witness upon resumed hearing in the matter.
Mr Ajara told the court that after his evaluation of the evidence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the prosecution in the matter, he would be relying on the case of the prosecution.
EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Bala Sanga, did not object and Justice Okorowo adjourned the matter until February 15 for adoption of final written addresses.
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the anti-graft agency is prosecuting Trinity Biotech Nigeria Limited and Mr Nolan in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/272/2022 as 1st and 2nd defendants in the case.
Also, the commission is prosecuting the sister case marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/273/2022 filed against Resorts Express Concept Nigeria Ltd, another company, and Mr Corrado Fantoli as 1st and 2nd defendants respectively before Justice Okorowo.
Mr Fantoli, also a foreigner and an associate of Nolan, was one of the suspects behind the alleged $9.6 billion P&ID fraud.
The suspect, currently at large, alongside the company, was arraigned in absentia on November 25, 2022, on an eight-count money laundering charge.
He was not present in court or represented by a lawyer when they were arraigned.
The court also declared him wanted and ordered his arrest anywhere he was sighted after Sanga made an application to the effect.
Mr Fantoli and Mrs Giovanna Beccarelli, who had also been declared wanted and an arrest warrant issued against her, were said to be directors and signatories to the company’s Guaranty Trust Bank account number: 0123849451.
Resorts Express Concept Nigeria Ltd and Trinity Biotech Nigeria Limited are two of the over 30 companies associated with the $9.6 billion scam.
Other cases linked to the scandal are currently before Justice Ahmed Mohammed, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, and Justice Zainab Abubakar of FHC, Abuja, besides other charges at FCT High Courts.
A Business and Property Court in London presided over by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales had, in October, quashed the 11 billion dollars awarded against Nigeria in a case filed by the P&ID.
Recall that a Business and Property Court in London presided over by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales had, in October dismissed the $9.6 billion judgment against Nigeria – which rose to $11.5 billion with interest – won by P&ID Limited over a failed 2010 deal to develop a gas processing plant.
Judge Knowles held that the award was obtained by fraud and that what had happened in the case was contrary to public policy.