9.6BILLION DOLLAR JUDGEMENT DEBT: P I&D CLAIMS VICTORY IN COURT, SAYS EFCC TRIAL IS A SHAM

    • Insists EFCC’s probe is a sham

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

Process and Industrial Development, the beneficiary of an award of $.96bn handed down against Nigeria by a London arbitration tribunal in January 2017, has laid claim to another victory at the ongoing enforcement proceedings before the English Commercial Court in London.

The British Virgin Island firm in an e-mail sent to our correspondent on Sunday gave a brief account of the proceedings of the English Commercial Court which held on Friday.

The firm had on August 16, 2019, obtained a judgment of the English court permitting it to commence the enforcement of the $9.6bn arbitral award.

Alleging fraud in the signing of the contract leading to the decision of the arbitration tribunal, the Federal Government has initiated a series of legal proceedings in the English court to challenge its judgment validating the $9.6bn award.

A hearing in respect of the Federal Government’s case challenging the judgment came up before the English court on Friday.

P&ID’s account of the Friday’s proceedings was different from the one earlier given by the spokesperson for the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), Dr Umar Gwandu.

By the AGF’s account of the proceedings, parties to the case through their lawyers appeared in the English High Court for “a scheduled case management conference on Friday.”

The statement added that with the timetable set by the court on Friday, “P&ID has 28 days to respond to the application for the extension of the time to challenge the arbitral award.”

It said the court would thereafter set a date for hearing of the Federal Government’s application.

But the P&ID said on Sunday that the English court delivered a ruling in its favour and against Nigeria.

It said on Friday, the English court set a deadline in the next summer for the Federal Government to justify its years of delay in challenging the award.

It said, “On Friday, the English Commercial Court ruled in favour of the P&ID, and against the Nigerian Government. This decision is another victory in favour of the P&ID as it continues efforts to compel the Nigerian Government to comply with its legal obligations to pay damages to the P&ID  as has already been ordered by the English Court.

“The ruling means that Nigeria must now justify its multi-year delay in challenging the award at a special hearing to take place before this summer, failing which it will be barred from raising its allegations of fraud before the English court.

“Nigeria’s defeat in court comes after the English Court of Appeal on Monday rejected Nigeria’s attempts to delay its appeal by including claims of fraud. The Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Flaux stated that Nigeria’s application was ‘misconceived.”

It insisted that the investigations being conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into alleged fraud committed by the P&ID with respect to the contract leading to the $9.6bn award was a sham.

Last year, the Federal High Court in Abuja, following the charges filed by the EFCC, convicted the P&ID and ordered the forfeiture of its assets to the Federal Government.

A former Nigerian official and other foreigners are currently standing trial in respect of alleged fraud relating to the controversial agreement leading to the $9.6bn award.

The firm urged the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), “to abandon its ill-fated attempts to avoid its legal responsibilities through the sham EFCC investigation targeting innocents – a campaign which Nigeria only launched in reaction to its previous defeats before the Tribunal and the English Court – and instead, accept the reality of the Arbitration Tribunal Award in favour of the P&ID, and the decisions of the English Court.”

The $9.6bn award was first issued against Nigeria and in favour of the P&ID in a January 31, 2017 ruling of a London arbitration tribunal, which held the Federal Government liable for the breach of a 20-year gas supply agreement signed in 2010 between the P&ID and Nigeria, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Under the agreement, the firm was to build in the Niger Delta region, a gas processing plant for the refining of natural gas, also known as “wet gas” into “lean gas” which would be used by Nigeria to generate electricity.

The London Commercial Court in a judgment delivered on August 16, 2019 validated a London arbitration panel’s award of the sum of $9.6bn against Nigeria and in favour of the P&ID.

The Federal Government has since instituted a series of legal actions to have the judgment overturned.

It subsequently obtained a conditional stay of execution of the judgment and the court’s permission to appeal against the judgment.

Copyright PUNCH.