By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Commercial Court of England, on Friday, granted the Federal Government of Nigeria leave to challenge the $9.6billion arbitrarily award to Process and Industrial Developments Limited, P&ID, over a botched gas supply and processing agreement.
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-led 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 theHigh 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.
“In light of the new and substantive evidence presented regarding P&ID’s fraudulent and corrupt activities, the Court has granted our application for an extension of time to hear our challenge out of normal time limits.
“The Federal Government will now proceed to a full hearing of our fraud challenge in the coming months.
“Investigations into the GSPA are ongoing, and we are firmly committed to overturning the award – no matter how long it takes – to ensure that this money goes towards Nigeria’s future, not into the pockets of millionaires trying to exploit our country”, the statement further read.