$6 Billion Mambilla Project: FG Reveals How Sunrise Promoter Lured Ministers With Women

The Federal Government led by President Bola Tinubu has levelled allegations of bribery and corruption against the promoter of Sunrise Power and Transmission Company, Leno Adesanya.

Truetells Nigeria understands that the papers were filed before a high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

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

In January 2024, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Agunloye before a federal high court over allegations of fraud in the award of the contract in 2003.

Sunrise is in arbitration with Nigeria at the ICC International Court of Arbitration, Paris, France, demanding $2.3 billion in compensation for the country’s failure to honour the contract 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 received illegal payments in the contracting process, a fact considered significant by the judge, which had been hidden from the arbitration tribunal.

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The court also ruled that P&ID was illegally in possession of privileged internal documents of the Nigerian 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, in which 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.

“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 woman in November 2021, when Mr. Adesanya was lobbying Nigeria is illustrative.”

Alleged extract of WhatsApp messages from Adesanya to Malami

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Nigeria argued in the document that Adesanya is a man “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.

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