Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said Friday’s ruling by a UK Commercial Court suspending enforcement of a $ 9.6 billion court debt against Nigeria is “a great relief.”
The minister, who spoke to the Nigerian News Agency (NAN) in Abuja, said the court’s decision “is a great victory and Nigeria can now breathe a sigh of relief.”
NAN reports that a UK commercial court on Friday granted Nigeria’s appeal for stay of enforcement of the $ 9.6 billion (approximately N3.5 billion) award to an Irish company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID ) for a failed gas contract. .
Specifically, the Royal Courts of Justice Strand in London granted the stay of the execution order in the arbitrary award, following review of the Federal Government’s written submission containing new evidence.
The presiding judge, Judge Sir Rose Cranston, held that the court decided “to grant Nigeria’s request for an extension of time and a waiver of sanction” in the disputed matter.
In reaction to the court’s decision, the minister said the ruling has provided Nigeria an opportunity to challenge the arbitrary award to show that the entire contract award with P&ID was a scam.
“The ruling is a great victory for Nigeria because it not only grants Nigeria only a stay of execution, but also suspends any sanctions against Nigeria.
“For more than a year, Nigeria has been restless in its pursuit of justice because we have always believed that the P&ID gas supply contract was nothing more than a sham.
“We followed the case relentlessly both in the court of public opinion and in the court of law.
The minister recalled that one of the challenges that the administration faced as soon as it was incorporated for the second term was the hit of the judicial debt in the country.
“The world and Nigeria seized on the fear that our foreign assets, our oil would stick, and investors panicked, that’s when we started our campaign.
“We were pretty clear in our mind that this matter would be won not only in the court of law but also in the court of public opinion,” he said.
The minister said they took proactive steps to assure investors that the government would challenge the ruling and no penny would be paid.
He said the steps were to instill confidence in investors that Nigeria is safe for investment and they should not divest in the country.
“After that, we held several press conferences in which, once again, we assured Nigerians that we were going to vigorously challenge the sentence.
“As soon as we were done with the national audience, we moved to the UK in a team to let the world know that the whole P&ID contract was a sham.”
The minister congratulated the Federal Prosecutor General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) for a very brilliant team that he created to prosecute the case.
NAN recalled that on August 16, 2019, a UK Commercial and Property Court (the Commercial Court), chaired by Judge Butcher, had approved that P&ID should enforce an award of March 20, 2013 against Nigeria for a District Circuit Court in Washington DC.
The court ordered a huge 9.6 billion judicial debt against Nigeria for the failed 20-year Gas and Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) with P&ID.
In a ruling, the court authorized (P&ID), a little-known Irish engineering and project management company, to seize $ 9.6 billion in Nigerian assets for the failed contract.
The court ruling was the consequence of the contract allegedly concluded in 2010 between the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID and the subsequent award rendered in July 2015 in favor of P&ID, by an arbitration panel based in London.
In the failed contract, P&ID was to build a gas processing facility to refine the associated natural gas into non-associated gas to power the national electricity grid.
For its part, the Ministry had to build a gas pipeline to supply gas to the P&ID facility that would be located in Adiabo, Odukpani LGA, Cross River state.
The deal failed because the company, which did not build any facilities on the agreed site, blamed the Ministry for not building the gas pipeline, claiming that it had committed $ 40 million in the contract. (YAYA)