Nigeria Government has order its lawyers 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.
Addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, who described the government’s delegation’s trip to London as successful, said the ruling saved Nigeria’s assets from being seized by P&ID.
According to the minister, of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said, 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.
The minister 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.
He said, the MoU for the project was signed in 2009 by P&ID Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian government (Ministry of Petroleum Resources).
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.
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.
“The Federal Government has a good chance of being successful in its impending appeal, otherwise the Commercial Court would not have allowed the appeal.
On the financial capacity of the company, he said the Central Bank of Nigeria confirmed there was no trace of any funds brought into Nigeria by P&ID and the firm also neither filed tax returns nor paid VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service as required by law.
Describing the entire Gas Supply Processing Agreement, which P&ID entered into with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, as “a fraudulent contraption with no chance, or expectation, of success,” he said the company, with neither a physical address nor a known investment anywhere in the world, “never acquired any land to build the gas processing plant.”
the minister, who was part of the Nigeria’s delegation to London, said there was no proof of any financial commitment by P&ID towards the execution and implementation of its own obligation as stipulated in the 2010 agreement.
According to the minster, the P&ID did not obtain the necessary licence to deal in petroleum products from the Department of Petroleum Resources as stipulated by extant laws.
“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,”
The minister said the company set out to dupe Nigeria from day one with the connivance of unpatriotic, corrupt and greedy Nigerians.
He said suspicious payments were made to Mrs. Grace Taiga, the Legal Director in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. “The payment, transferred in three tranches, could only have been made in appreciation of the ‘good deed’ done to P&ID by Mrs Taiga,”
For those who may still not understand the gravity of the judgement of the Commercial Court in London last week, let me say this: 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 have started compiling a list of our assets which they will attach.
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.
The minister “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.