BY VICTOR BUORO – Nigeria on Friday announced that it has won its case against the Process & Industrial Developments Limited, declaring that with the ruling, it will no longer pay the $9 billion earlier judgment debt.
The Federal Government said that it would now proceed to a full trial of the issues, where government’s substantive application to finally set aside the award would be
The Nigerian government also said that in light of the new and substantive evidence regarding P&ID’s fraudulent and corrupt activities, the Court has granted Nigeria’s application for an extension of time to hear its challenge out of normal time limits.
In a statement issued on Friday in Abuja, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the Federal Government will now proceed to a full hearing of its fraud challenge in the coming months.
A British judge had in August 2019, ordered the Nigerian government to pay $9 billion in assets to Process $ Industrial Development Limited.
This followed a deal hitherto allegedly reached with P&ID and the Nigerian government in 2010 to build a natural gas plant for which fell through two years later.
As a result, P$ID sued the Nigerian government for failing to provide the gas or install the pipelines it had promised to build.
Towards this end, the British Court first awarded $6.6bn (£5.4bn) in 2017, and later the London court added $2.4bn in interest.
But in a judgment on Friday, Judge Ross Cranston of the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division Commercial Court, London, United Kingdom, granted Nigeria’s applications for an extension of time and relief from the sanctions.
Judge Cranston held that P&ID contributed to the delay, adding that it will not by reason of the delay suffer irremediable prejudice in addition to the mere loss of time if the application is permitted to proceed.
According to the Judge; “Although not a primary factor, fairness in the broadest sense favours an extension in this case”.
However, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the court granted Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions due to the exceptional circumstances where the government had uncovered evidence of massive fraud in procuring the award.
Malami noted that the Court heard evidence from the government and the offshore shell company P&ID in relation to the gas supply and processing agreement (GSPA), adding that the agreement was entered into by the parties 10 years ago and which was never performed.
Malami said the Buhari-led administration, having inherited the dispute from the previous administration, only recently uncovered evidence that the GSPA was a sham commercial deal, stressing that it was designed to fail from the start.
The Attorney General pointedly said that its subsequent arbitral award was based on fraud and corruption, saying that the government relied on a number of ongoing investigations across multiple jurisdictions, including the UK, to build its case.
Malami said that the government of Nigeria was pleased with the outcome from the
High Court hearing, saying; “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.