Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has informed the federal government that he is ready to testify for Nigeria “in any forum” over former Minister of Power and Steel, Olu Agunloye in $2.3bn the disputed Mambilla power contract.
Sunrise Power is in arbitration with Nigeria at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Paris, France, alleging a breach of contract.
The company said it was awarded a $6 billion build, operate and transfer (BOT) contract in May 2003 by the Obasanjo administration but that the federal government repudiated the agreement.
Sunrise is asking for a compensation of $2.3 billion, claiming it had spent millions of dollars on financial and legal consultants before the contract was jettisoned.
In its defence at the arbitration, Nigeria is alleging fraud and corruption of public officials in the award of the contract — similar to the P&ID case in which a UK court nullified an $11 billion award against the country for similar reasons.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has reportedly uncovered serious issues of fraud and has filed charges against suspects.
In his letter to Fagbemi, Obasanjo said: “What is abundantly clear is that at no time did Dr Agunloye comply with the foregoing directive by bringing a memo to Council to include the [stated] comparison; nor can my directive be stretched to be inclusive of any approval to award any contract to Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited or any other person.
“In any event, my directive as stated above cannot by any stretch of imagination reasonably be extended to mean that issuing “a letter of comfort” translates to an award of contract.
“It is therefore clear that at no time was any contract awarded to Sunrise Power by anyone in my Administration.”
He assured Fagbemi of his “continued commitment” to assist the government “by shedding more light on these matters as may be required of me. In particular, the embarrassment to Nigeria caused by these acts of fraud, deceit and malfeasance of Dr. Agunloye and others of his ilk does no good to Nigeria or Nigerians. I have therefore resolved to make myself available to testify in Arbitration or any forum should you consider it necessary in our national interest”.