P&ID: EFCC applauds dismissal of $11.5bn judgment against Nigeria
By Matthew Atungwu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commended the dismissal of the arbitrary $ 6.6 billion judgment against Nigeria by the Process & Industry Development over a failed 2010 deal to develop a gas processing plant in the country.
UK Judge, Robin Knowles of the Business and Property Court in London on Monday declared that the case’s outcomes were against public policy and that the award was gained by fraud.
The EFCC and Process & Industrial Developments were involved in a court battle concerning a $9 billion judgment that was granted against Nigeria, and it has since increased to $10 billion.
The corporation asserted that Nigeria had broken the terms of the deal by refusing to supply gas for the power plant it intended to construct in the nation.
The international company said that the purported infraction hindered the development of the Gas Project, which was approved under the administration of former President Umaru Yar’Adua, and denied P&ID the opportunity to profit from 20 years’ worth of gas supplies, with “anticipated profits of $5 to $6 billion.”
Based on its claims, the arbitral tribunal unanimously decided that the Nigerian government had repudiated the Gas Supply and Processing GSPA, by failing to perform its obligations under the agreement and awarded P&ID $6.6 billion in 2017. That fine along with interest has now risen to $11.5billion.
An initial out-of-tribunal agreement for the payment of $850 million was reached by a previous administration and the disbursement was passed on to the administration of President Muhammad Buhari balked at the idea of paying the negotiated sum, set aside the settlement agreement and challenged the enforcement of the award before the English Commercial Court.
But the London court added $2.4 billion in interest making it $9bn. The judge granted Nigeria’s request for a stay on any asset seizures while its legal challenge is pending but ordered it to pay $200 million to the court within 60 days to ensure the stay. It also must pay some court costs to P&ID within 14 days.
The decision of the court converted an arbitration award held by P&ID to a legal judgment, which would allow the British Virgin Islands-based firm to try to seize international assets.
Irked by the shadiness and hollowness of the claims of P&ID, Nigeria began investigating the company through the EFCC and found evidence of two bank transfers totaling $20,000 made by Dublin-based Industrial Consultants (International) Ltd. — part of the P&ID group of companies — to Grace Taiga, a Nigerian government lawyer who oversaw the award of the gas plant contract.
The EFCC, challenging the payments through its counsel, Bala Sanga, said, the payments, in 2017 and 2018, were made from an Industrial Consultants account at Allied Irish Banks and were purportedly for “medical costs”. Based on this new evidence, which the EFCC considered to be ‘seismic’, Nigeria filed fraud challenges against P&ID but the company has failed to respond to the charges. Trials of key suspects allegedly involved in the fraud are ongoing at various levels of court in Abuja.
Sanga, in some of his appearances in court for the EFCC, had pointed out that, “It is increasingly clear that this was a highly orchestrated scam”. The Commission had also pointed out that, P&ID’s lawyers have not been able to prove that it legitimately, and lawfully, secured a 20-year contract worth hundreds of millions of Naira.
“The company has yet to even demonstrate that they had the credentials in the first place to carry out such a complex arrangement, nor provide any evidence of tangible investment or landholding. The award in question, which amounts to over eight times Nigeria’s national health budget, could be used for far more important, and genuine, public issues at the current time….”, it said.
The EFCC further argued that “Nigeria does not even have the capacity to pay the judgment debt. Nigeria’s international assets, oil cargoes, and P&ID were supposed to be seized, if Nigeria lost the appeal. However, with the Monday judgment Nigerian assets are safe both at home and abroad.
The controversial Process and Industrial Development gas processing contract resulted in a $9.6 billion arbitral award to P&ID Limited by a UK commercial court. On October 18, 2021, two British nationals, James Richard Nolan and Adam Quinn (at large), were re-arraigned before Justice D.U. Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja for their alleged complicity.
The defendants, who are both directors of ICIL Limited and Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI), were docketed on a 32-count indictment that involved allegations of money laundering. Their trial is still ongoing.