Grace Taiga, the former director of legal services at the petroleum ministry accused of collecting bribes from P&ID, has died, TheCable can report.
TheCable confirmed from multiple sources that Taiga died in September 2023 after battling kidney issues — but the development was not made public by the family.
She will be buried in December in Delta state, sources in the know told TheCable without giving any further details.
Taiga served in the ministries of petroleum resources and defence before retiring in September 1, 2010.
TheCable could not confirm her exact age but she died in her mid-70s.
She was arrested and charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of receiving payments from P&ID to skew the controversial gas supply and processing agreement (GSPA) against Nigeria.
The London Court of International Arbitration had awarded $6.6 billion plus seven percent interest against Nigeria in January 2017 for breach of contract.
The EFCC alleged that Taiga received illegal payments from Marshpearl Limited, a company controlled by the owners of P&ID, through her daughter.
After retirement, she reportedly continued receiving payments from P&ID directors.
She was also accused of failing to follow due process in giving legal advice on the GSPA.
In September 20, 2019, a federal high court in Abuja remanded her at the Suleja prison after she pleaded “not guilty” to an eight-count charge of fraud levelled against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Days later, she was granted a N10 million bail by the court.
‘TAIGA RECEIVED CORRUPT PAYMENTS’
On Monday, Robin Knowles, justice of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales, upheld Nigeria’s request to set aside the $11 billion arbitration award on the ground that it was obtained by fraud.
Taiga had appeared as a witness of P&ID in the proceedings before Knowles and was cross-examined by Nigeria.
In his ruling, Knowles said Taiga “certainly had a role in bringing about” the controversial gas agreement.
The judge said he is “quite satisfied that Nigeria is correct in its allegations” that bribes were paid to Taiga before and after the contract on behalf of P&ID.
“Shortly after the GSPA was entered into, on 29 March 2010, Ms Vera Taiga was paid £5,000 by Hobson Industries,” the judge ruled.
“The payment instruction was again signed by Mr Cahill. The pdf schedule ‘Taiga G – Sept 2019’ showed this payment against the name “Grace Taiga” and marked with the narrative “Gas Contract”.
“The timing of the payments is highly material, just before and just after the entry into the GSPA.
“The fact that, within the ICIL Group, they came from accounts of Marshpear and Hobson Industries and not P&ID is neither here nor there; ICIL Group was not run rigorously between companies.
“In authorising the payments Mr Cahill was, I find, acting for P&ID to incentivise and reward Ms Taiga in connection with the entry of the GSPA.
“They were deliberately kept secret from Nigeria. I am quite satisfied that Nigeria is correct in its allegation that these payments in December 2009 and March 2010 were bribes paid on behalf of P&ID to Mrs Grace Taiga’s benefit in connection with the entry into the GSPA.
“I reject as untrue the evidence of Mrs Grace Taiga and Mr Cahill, in particular, to the contrary.
“By some standards the sums received were not large in absolute terms, but they were in context: US$5,000 was, on her account, an amount equal to the annual salary of Mrs Grace Taiga before allowance and entitlements.
“The payments I have described were not disclosed to Nigeria, her employer, by Mrs Grace Taiga, or by P&ID and ICIL Group, and this was deliberate.”
The judge rejected the claim that the money sent to Taiga on behalf of P&ID was for medical expenses, adding that the lawyer knows that the “payments were corrupt”.
“But keeping these and other payments secret from her employer, Nigeria, was deliberate and the reason for this was that she knew the payments were corrupt rather than because she believed they were a private matter that was irrelevant to her employment,” the judge ruled.
BODY COUNT MOUNTING
Taiga’s death has added to the number of mortalities in the P&ID case.
Michael Quinn, co-founder of P&ID, died in 2015, a year after Lloyd, his son who was also involved in the company, passed.
Rilwanu Lukman, Nigeria’s minister of petroleum resources who signed the GSPA with P&ID in January 2010, died in July 2014 at 75.
Neil Hitchcock, an engineer who acted as P&ID’s project director on the GSPA, died in December 2015.
Taofik Tijani, senior technical assistant to Lukman who also worked on the GSPA, died in March 2021.
There is no suggestion that the deaths are linked.