P&ID: FG gets ‘execution stay’ order for $200m - The Naija Weekly

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

P&ID: FG gets ‘execution stay’ order for $200m

A United Kingdom Court yesterday granted  Nigeria’s application to appeal against the judgment secured by Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) to seize the sum of $9.6 billion in Nigerian assets.
The court equally granted the application for stay of execution moved by the Federal Government but with a stringent condition.
The application for stay was granted by the court subject to the payment of the sum of $200 million by Nigeria within 60 days  as security to court, pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the Federal Government. However, she is to pay $250m to P&ID immediately as the legal cost incurred by the company so far in the case.
It was learnt that Nigeria’s legal team agreed with the court that all actions and criminal trials in Nigeria shall have no relevance or bearing on the London matters.
With the filing of stay of execution, the enforcement of the controversial judgment would be put on hold until the outcome of the appeal.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, who confirmed this to Daily Sun, said it was a healthy development for the country.
Malami said: “Leave to appeal has been granted. Stay of execution is also granted, subject to the payment of $200m security payment to court pending the determination of the appeal the leave for which has been granted by the commercial court.
“We will study the court rulings, exercise the right appeal and consider the legal options available at our disposal as it relates to the payment of $200m, in view of the 60 days window stipulated by the court. The steps we will consider are to study the ruling and act in a way beneficial to the interest of the nation.
“I am pleased with today’s development in the court and see this as a positive resolution that constitutes an important step in the government’s efforts to defend itself in a fair and just process. We look forward to challenging the UK Commercial Court’s recognition of the tribunal’s decision in the UK Court of Appeal, uncovering P&ID’s outrageous approach for what it is: a sham based on fraudulent and criminal activity developed to profit from a developing country,” he said.
The  case against Nigeria centres on a contract signed in 2009 by P&ID, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, and Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources for the building of a refinery to convert natural gas into “lean gas” in Cross River State in southern Nigeria.
Under the controversial agreement, Nigeria committed to build a pipeline to carry the gas to the refinery, but it was never completed. Work on the refinery never started, but P&ID said it spent $40m on the project, a claim disputed by Nigeria.
P&ID, which was co-founded by Brendan Cahill and Mick Quinn, a former showbands manager who died in 2015, strongly denies Nigeria’s allegations. The company says it entered into the contract in good faith.
However, Nigerian officials say the original contract was flawed. Mr. Malami argued that, by law, a contract of that size should have been scrutinised by the AGF’s office, the Federal Executive Council and the Department of Petroleum Resources, none of which was consulted.
Instead, he said, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources had run a rogue operation and signed the contract with P&ID without going through proper channels. A Nigerian federal court had set aside the arbitration award on the grounds that the original contract was illegal, he said, a ruling that the London courts had not followed.
In 2017, a London arbitration court awarded P&ID $6.6bn in damages. With interest, that amount has ballooned to nearly $9.6bn, or roughly 2.5 per cent of Nigeria’s nominal gross domestic product.
In August, the commercial court in London said P&ID could enforce the arbitration decision as if it were a UK court order, which would allow it to begin seizing Nigerian assets.
Nigerian officials said they expected to claim “sovereign immunity” in the case, arguing that the country could not be forced to surrender sovereign assets to a private claimant. It will also allege that the contract underlying the claim was fraudulent, and ask for the judgment to be set aside.
P&ID said: “The agreement with Nigeria was signed after years of preparation, field work, evaluation and planning on the part of P&ID. The project was not a novel concept and it only failed when the Nigerian government failed to live up to its end of the contract.”
Last week, two men allegedly linked to P&ID pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to charges of fraud and money laundering in a court in Abuja. The court ordered P&ID to forfeit all its assets, though Nigerian officials have described P&ID as a “shell company” with almost no physical infrastructure or staff.
.. Senior lawyers hail UK Court decision 
Two constitutional lawyers and Senior Advocates, Mr. Paul Erokoro and Chief Mike Ozekhome, have hailed the judgment.
Mr. Erokoro said the judgment would save the country from the embarrassing situation.
“The Federal Government should now take the appeal very seriously to its logical conclusion.
“ The judgment itself was a product of scam and fraud involving some Nigerians who ensured that tough conditions were in place to make it difficult for Nigeria to escape liabilities. Nigeria will be broke for another 10 years if the judgment is enforced,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to go after those involved in the fraudulent contract, including selling their assets.
Chief Ozekhome said the ruling affords Nigeria the opportunity to tie the loose ends and appeal the judgment. But it must be done immediately.
“I am happy the government listened to our advice and took the measures they have taken so far,” he said. “They must not rest on their oars, a lot still needs to be done about appealing the judgment. They must understand the urgency required to avert huge losses.”
The UK Commercial and Arbitration Court yesterday ordered a stay of execution, pending the determination of an appeal by the Federal Government.
The court asked the Nigerian government to make a security payment of $200 million to the court, while also granting Nigeria’s leave to file an appeal against the award.
The court said, the stay of executive order is effective subject to Nigeria making the payment with 60 days.

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