By Etuka Sunday
The Nigerian Government has moved closer to overturning the US$9.6 billion judgement debt awarded against it in favour of Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) by a United Kingdom court in what is widely believed to be an injustice and a direct result of fraud and corruption.
In what appears to be a positive step forward for Nigeria, the United Kingdom Commercial Court presided over by Justice Butcher on Thursday, November 28, 2019, accepted the application of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in its case against P&ID to vary the condition of the stay of execution of the enforcement order it had earlier granted P&ID.
Investigations carried out in the matter, over the past few weeks, have revealed incidences of very serious fraud, bringing into question both the legitimacy of the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) and the subsequent award itself. ¬
The UK court had on Friday, November 22, 2019, rejected the application of the Federal Government for extension of time to comply with the deposit of $200 million condition but indicated its readiness to accept a “satisfactory bank guarantee” as proposed by the Federal Government towards the end of the hearing on Friday, November 22, 2019.
However, on Monday, November 25, 2019, the court ,while hearing the application for variation granted an extension of the stay till November 26, 2019, and subsequently to Thursday, November 28, 2019, when it finally varied the condition for stay, pending the hearing of the appeal filed before the UK Court of Appeal by Nigeria against the enforcement of the award based on a fraudulent Gas Supply and Processing Agreement purportedly signed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources during the tenure of now deceased Rilwanu Lukman and P&ID.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government has maintained its decision to challenge the legality and validity of the GSPA both locally and in the UK where it is still contending that Nigeria is the seat of Arbitration.
The Federal Government had also insisted that no payment to P&ID could be made, as they are under active investigation for fraud and corruption.
The Court did, however, maintain that its deadlines must be complied with. For this reason, Nigeria proposed a bank guarantee as a variation to the previous order. This was approved by the Court.
With Thursday’s security by the Commercial Court, Nigeria moves closer to overturning the injustice of the US$9.6 billion judgement debt earlier awarded in favour of P&ID against Nigeria.