$9 Billion Judgement: FG Asks For Judge To Be Probed

The federal government has called for a probe of Justice Christopher Butcher of the London Commercial Court hearing the dispute between Nigeria and an Irish-owned firm registered in British Virgin Island, Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), over a failed gas project that went into arbitration with $9.6 billion claim against the country.

Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, who is part of the Nigerian delegation to the court session yesterday, told THISDAY Newspapers, in an interview in London that the court was so desperate to enforce the arbitral award.

Two other members of the delegation, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, reiterated the federal government’s allegation that the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) between P&ID and the Ministry of Petroleum Resource was aimed at defrauding Nigeria.

Magu, who expressed loss of confidence in the British commercial court, said Nigeria would take the matter up at the diplomatic level.

He said: “The entire transaction is predicated on fraud; complete fraud and irregularities by people trying to exploit the weakness in the system to their advantage. I am also worried that the commercial court that gave the judgment here on the award is so desperate on the enforcement of the judgment itself. That shows clearly that we do not have confidence in the commercial court because they seem to have interest in making sure they enforce it; otherwise they should give us a chance for us to come in with our complaint.

“P&ID does not even exist in Nigeria. It is a shell company and as far as I am concerned, the directors we have committed so far are the witnesses to the agreement and also to the MoU. The main actors who actually signed the MoU and the agreement incidentally are all dead, that is (Michael) Quinn and Lukman (former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources). There is something sneakier to the whole deal.

“We would have to approach at government or diplomatic level. We will also appeal to the appropriate authorities to also investigate the conduct of the judges that actually passed the award because this is the worst in the world. There has never been an arbitration award at this level that is so high; nowhere in the world. It has not happened. $9.6 billion? Do you know how it can aggravate the refugee situation in Nigeria? Do you know how it would affect our GDP? Do you know it would affect the economy?
“That is almost about one-third of our budgetary allocation. We’re over 200 million Nigerians. We will not take it.”

On the lessons Nigeria has learnt from the P&ID case, Magu said: “That’s why we are here to deal with the situation on ground. After dealing with the situation on ground, we would address other things. There are some other agreements – about six like that that we need to look into that were against Nigeria, from same judges. The same judges have given another judgment of income against Nigeria. And the same expert opinion was being run. You can see the conspiracy.”