The go ahead granted to Nigeria by a London court to appeal a $9bn judgment debt against Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) is indeed a welcome relief. The judgement is a welcome development, particularly as the country is facing an imminent recession due to monumental revenue losses arising from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, who made the disclosure in a statement that was signed by his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu, described the decision of the English Court to allow Nigeria to challenge the judgement debt placed on it over three years ago, as “unprecedented”.
According to the statement, the court allowed Nigeria to challenge the verdict, “well outside the normal time limits, due to the exceptional circumstances where the FRN has uncovered evidence of a massive fraud in procuring the award”.
“The court heard evidence from the FRN and the offshore shell company, P&ID, in relation to the gas supply and processing agreement (GSPA), which the parties entered into 10 years ago and which was never performed”, it added.
Malami noted that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, having inherited the dispute from the previous administration, “only recently uncovered evidence that the GSPA was a sham commercial deal designed to fail from the start, and that its subsequent arbitral award was based on fraud and corruption”.
He said Nigeria relied on a number of ongoing investigations across multiple jurisdictions, including the US, to build its case.
“During the hearing, new evidence was presented to further support Nigeria’s challenge. The FRN will now proceed to a full trial of the issues, where the FRN’s substantive application to finally set aside the award will be heard, thereby recording a major success considering the fact that the federal government exceptional circumstances application to have its challenge taken well outside the normal time limits is upheld on account of uncovered evidence of massive fraud in procuring the award.
“The Federal Republic of Nigeria is pleased with the outcome from the high court hearing today. This is a major victory in our ongoing fight against the vulture-fund-backed P&ID, to overturn the injustice of the multi-billion dollar arbitral award.
However, the presidency welcomed the judgment by the UK court, saying the judgement is right. In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, it said: “In our view, the judgment is right, just and provides a strong prima facie case that the fraudulent gas deal with P&ID and the subsequent judgment debt of $10 billion against Nigeria was a clear attempt to cheat the country of billions of dollars by a company that had not invested one naira in our country.
“On the arbitration award, it is a source of huge satisfaction that the UK court, among others, had ruled that: Nigeria has established a strong prima facie case that the Gas Supply and Processing (GSPA) was procured by bribes paid to insiders as part of a larger scheme to defraud Nigeria.
“There is also a strong prima facie case that (P&ID) main witness in the arbitration, Mr Quinn, gave a perjured evidence to the tribunal, and that contrary to that evidence, P&ID was not in the position to perform the contract.”
“The presidency expresses delight with the processes that led to this outcome in the English court, noting that it has given relief to the Nigerian government to further protect our national assets from criminally-minded organisations and individuals.
“The views of the UK court thus provide sufficient grounds for the federal government to go ahead and challenge the frauds perpetrated by the company and overturn the arbitration award.
“President Muhammadu Buhari therefore commends the team of lawyers who represented Nigeria in the matter with P&ID, and reassures all well-meaning Nigerians and the international community of his unwavering commitment to fight corruption in all its forms and manifestation.
The fine was earlier slammed on the Nigerian government by a court in London as compensation for P&ID over a failed deal on gas supply. In the latest ruling, the judge, Sir Ross Cranston, found that: Nigeria has established a strong prima facie case that the GSPA was procured by bribes paid to insiders as part of a larger scheme to defraud Nigeria.
Blueprint joins President Buhari and other compatriots to celebrate this judicial victory . We also commend the team of lawyers who have demonstrated utmost patriotism as worthy ambassadors of Nigeria. We, however, caution that nothing should be spared to ensure the ultimate victory for Nigeria in this case