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$9.6bn judgment: FG orders lawyers to appeal $200m security deposit

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To demand return of $250,000 payment if appeal succeeds

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The Federal Government said it had directed its lawyers to seek the leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal the ruling of Justice Christopher Butcher of the Commercial Court in London that asked Nigeria to pay $200m security payment into the court’s account while granting request to stay execution in the $9.6bn award in favour of Process and Industrial Development Limited.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who was part of the Federal Government’s delegation to London last week disclosed this to reporters in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the government retained international legal firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, for the case.

Apart from the $200m, the minister said the government would be able to seek refund of the $250,000 it was asked to pay to P&ID if the appeal succeeded.

Mohammed argued that contrary to claims by the P&ID and “its cohorts”, the government delegation’s trip to London was a successful one.

Describing the delegation’s mission as a huge success, the minister said the firm had every reason to be worried that the $9.6bn arbitration awarded to it had a good chance of being overturned.

He said, “The Federal Government has a good chance of being successful in its impending appeal, otherwise the Commercial Court would not have allowed the appeal.

“Please note that Nigeria will be able to demand a refund of the 250,000 GBP payment to P&ID where the government wins on the appeal. This fact is being hidden by those who have been spinning the London judgment in their own favour.

“On the $200m payment as a condition for the granting of the stay of execution, Nigeria has instructed its lawyers to seek the leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal against that payment.

“Nigerians should remain assured that the Federal Government is taking all necessary steps to strongly avail itself of all defences customarily afforded to sovereign states under the United Kingdom Sovereign Immunity Act to fight and upturn any enforcement of the award.

“In the words of Mr President at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York last week, we are giving notice to international criminal groups by the vigorous prosecution of the P&ID scam attempting to cheat Nigeria of billions of dollars.”

We have shown that P&ID is a fraud– FG

The minister added that the Federal Government had succeeded in changing the false narrative being peddled by the P&ID both within and outside Nigeria by putting across strong evidence that the company is a fraud.

“For those who may still not understand the gravity of the judgment of the Commercial Court in London last week, let me say that had we lost our quest for a stay of execution and application to appeal in London last week, P&ID would by now be attempting to seize our assets all over the world.

“Remember they boasted before the judgment that they had started compiling a list of our assets which they would attach. But now, that’s an empty boast, thanks to the successes recorded in the court of law and the court of public opinion last week,” he added.

He disclosed that ahead of the trip, the team that comprised  himself; the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Lamorde; and the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, set off to achieve three main objectives which appeared to be difficult.

The objectives, according to him, were to change the narrative, especially on the international stage, on the entire P&ID issue; apply for leave of the Commercial Court to appeal the judgment that recognised the arbitration award; and to seek a stay of execution on the UK judgment that recognised the award.

The minister boasted that the delegation achieved all the three objectives.

He added, “First, we took London by storm, taking our case to international media outlets and Think Tanks like AP, AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC, Financial Times, The Economist, The African Confidential, Royal African Society and the Red Lions Chambers, a leading Barrister’s Chambers in London, among others.

“We also met a group of experts and stakeholders. Our message was simple: P&ID, a company without a physical address and no known investment anywhere in the world, set out to dupe Nigeria from day one, with the connivance of unpatriotic, corrupt and greedy Nigerians. The entire Gas Supply Processing Agreement, which P&ID entered into with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, is nothing but a fraudulent contraption with no chance, or expectation, of success.

“We then said the unprecedented $9.6bn 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.”

He insisted that a contract of such magnitude could not be valid until it has been vetted by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and taken to the Federal Executive Council for approval, saying none of those was done.

He added that the “sham contract” was also signed in contravention of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act and the Infrastructural Regulatory Commission Procurement Act.

According to the minister, the MoU for the project was signed in 2009 by P&ID Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian government (Ministry of Petroleum Resources).

He said a ‘trick’ clause dubiously inserted into the MoU was curiously activated that allowed British Virgin Island (BVI)-registered P&ID to replace the original contractual party, P&ID Nigeria Limited, to sign the contract on January 11, 2010.

According to him, P&ID, incorporated in BVI, is a shell company that has no history of any business except the phantom GSPA in Nigeria, adding that there is no board resolution approving the assignment of the contractual interest to P&ID BVI.

He added, “The P&ID never kick-started the construction of the project facility, despite its claim to have invested $40m in Nigeria. It also never acquired any land to build the gas processing plant.

“There is no proof of any financial commitment by the P&ID towards the execution and implementation of its own obligation as stipulated in the 2010 agreement. Similarly, the Central Bank of Nigeria confirmed there is no trace of any funds brought into Nigeria by P&ID.

“Two directors of P&ID Nigeria have been convicted of charges of money laundering and economic sabotage. They are Mohammed Kuchazi, a Director of P&ID BVI, and Adamu Usman, a Director of P&ID Nigeria.

“Suspicious payments were made to Mrs Grace Taiga, the Legal Director in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Mrs Taiga was supposed to ensure that the interest of the country was adequately protected. Of course, the payment, transferred in three tranches, could only have been made in appreciation of the ‘good deed’ done to P&ID by Mrs Taiga. Also, billions of naira in suspicious cash transfers were made by P&ID. Investigations continue into these transfers.

“According to the contract, the gas for the project was expected to come from OML 67 operated by ExxonMobil and OML 123 operated by Addax. But none of the two companies was even aware of the agreement.

“And finally, for such a supposedly important project, there was no budgetary provision for the implementation of the GSPA in the budget of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010, and P&ID did not obtain the necessary licence to deal in petroleum products from the Department of Petroleum Resources as stipulated by extant laws. The firm also neither filed tax returns nor paid VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as required by law.”

He said all but one of the six proposed grounds of appeal by the Nigerian government were allowed by the Commercial Court.  This, he said, was a huge success.

Source: PUNCH NG

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