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EFCC probes $6bn Mambilla Power Project

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EFCC probes $6bn Mambilla Power Project

*As NASS describes project as a mirage

Minister of Power, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu on Tuesday said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has commenced investigation into the $6 billion Mambilla Power Project which is a subject of legal tussle.

Aliyu disclosed this in response to the concern raised by the chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswan (PDP Benue North East) over the situation of the project during the 2023 budget defence of ministry before the committee.

According to him, the ministry had met with stakeholders and all issues of concern are currently being resolved, adding that the issue of litigation on the power project has been an obstacle.

He said: “Regarding Mambilla, we have met with stakeholders and we are resolving the situation. It has something to do with litigation, there is nothing going on as regards moving to site by the contractor.

“EFCC has stepped into the matter and we have given them information about it, we have given them history of Power Project, our lawyers had interfaced with the anti-graft agency, unless we are able to pull out of litigation, we can’t do anything.

“I don’t think the investor will bring their money where there is encumbrance.”

However, Senator Susuwan said that the project is a mirage as far as the National Assembly is concern, adding that money has been budgeted year in year out and there is nothing on ground to show for it.

“To us in National Assembly, the Mambilla Power Project is mirage, there is nothing to show for it despite the money that has been provided year in, year out.

“It is clear that the Mambilla Power Project will not be able to start before the end of this administration,” the chairman stressed.

It would be recalled that the federal government awarded a $6 billion Build, Operate and Transfer, BOT contract to Sunrise Power and Transmission Co. Limited and its Chinese consortium partners on May 22, 2003.

Sunrise consortium had secured $5.5 billion in Chinese Eximbank loans in 2005, while the Nigerian government, on May 28, 2007, signed a $1.46 billion civil works contract with the Chinese firm, Messrs China Gezhouba Group Corporation/China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGGC/CGC), in clear violation of Sunrise’s BOT contract.

In November 2007, Sunrise filed a petition to then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the $1.46 billion EPC contract was terminated in 2009.

Nigerian government signed a General Project Execution Agreement, GOEA with Sunrise and its Chinese Çonsortium partners for the execution of the Mambilla hydropower project.

However, on November 12, 2017, the government signed a $5.8 billion EPC contract with another Chinese Consortium, despite numerous written warnings from the current Attorney-General of the Federation to the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in 2016 and 2017 to respect the GPEA contract with Sunrise. Sunrise resorted to arbitration against the Nigerian State and Sinohydro consortium of China in 2018, claiming $2.3 billion in damages.

With the intervention of the Chinese president, who sent a special envoy to President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2019, Federal Government and Sunrise signed a settlement agreement in January 2020 and this settlement was advised to both the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria and chairman of China Eximbank, who had made the settlement condition precedent to any loans for the Project.

However, the Federal Government defaulted. Sunrise, in September 2021, withdrew the $500 million settlement arbitration on the condition that the Federal Government makes a financial commitment towards the project and respects its right as the exclusive local content partner, but the Federal Government failed again to make any payments to the EPC contractors and/or the counterpart funds to China Eximbank.

While the Federal Government has been unable to defend its failure to honour its agreements to Sunrise, however, the government requested that the ICC should direct “that Sunrise produce certain information showing its true legal and beneficial ownership.”

The request, according to the government, was based on the allegation that there exist Pandora papers suggesting that Mr. Leno Adesanya secretly transferred an interest in Sunrise to the family of Nigeria’s former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

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EFCC probes $6bn Mambilla Power Project

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