Soni Daniel – Abuja
One week after securing the nod of the United Kingdom Commercial Court to appeal the $9.6 billion award earlier granted Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), the Federal Government said on Wednesday the decision represents a major victory against the shadowy British Virgin Island firm.
It would be recalled that apart from halting the immediate payment of the money to P&ID, Justice Butcher, who presided over the matter, also granted Nigeria leave to appeal against the judgment, which Nigeria had faulted repeatedly.
Addressing a news conference on the issue in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was part of the federal government delegation to London, said that the government was pleased that the court saw merits in Nigeria’s case and granted five out of the six prayers tabled before it.
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Despite that development, the federal government has asked its legal team to appeal against the ruling of the English Commercial Court’ which asked Nigeria to deposit $200 million as a condition for the stay of execution it granted the country last week.
However, Nigeria is willing to pay the £250,000 legal cost to P&ID which would be refunded if Nigeria wins the appeal at the UK Appeal Court.
The minister said: “The federal government is pleased that the judge fairly recognised the merits of its arguments and the true nature of P&ID and its strategy and that he granted permission to appeal against his own decision and a stay of execution pending appeal. The federal government looks forward to its day in court in the Court of Appeal, where it is confident that it will receive a fair hearing of its case and that the order permitting enforcement of the arbitral award will be set aside.
Mohammed said Nigeria presented a simple case and drawn the attention of the court to the fact that the beneficiary of the huge award, P&ID, a company without a physical address and no known investment anywhere in the world, deliberately set out to dupe Nigeria from day one, with the connivance of unpatriotic, corrupt and greedy Nigerians.
The minister said Nigeria also argued that the so-called Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA), which P&ID entered into with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, is nothing but a fraudulent contraption with no chance, or expectation, of success.
Mohammed added: “We then said that the unprecedented $9.6 billion in arbitration award to P&ID constitutes an unreasonable reward to a company that has done nothing more than to engage in fraud and economic sabotage. This runs contrary to the course of justice and is capable of bringing harm and hardship to Nigeria, and indeed the wider region.
“A contract of this magnitude cannot be valid until it has been vetted by the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and taken to the Federal Executive Council for approval.
“None of these was done. The sham contract was also signed in contravention of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act and the Infrastructural Regulatory Commission Procurement Act.”