Federal Government of Nigeria has finally agreed to pay the $200m security deposit ordered by Mr Christopher Butcher of the Commercial Court in London in September in the ongoing gas dispute case between Nigeria and Process and Industry Development Limited, it has been learnt.
The British court had asked Nigeria to pay $200m security payment in the court’s account while granting request to stay execution in the award of $9.6bn award in favour of Process and Industry Development Limited.
Federal Government’s legal team said during a hearing at the London court on Friday that Nigeria would pay the $200m security deposit.
The statement read in part, “Before Justice Butcher today (Friday) in London, the Nigerian legal team acknowledged that President Buhari has authorised the steps to provide a bank guarantee for the $200m in security that was ordered by the English Court in September.
The Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation had filed an appeal before the London court to stop the order of September 2019 to pay the $200m security deposit and the $9.6bn Tribunal Award in favour of P&ID.
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, who was part of Federal Government’s delegation to London late September, disclosed to reporters in Abuja on October 2 that the government had begun the process of filing an appeal against the $200m security deposit.
He said the government retained international legal firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, for the case.
Apart from the $200m, Mohammed said the government would be able to seek a refund of the $250,000 it was asked to pay to P&ID if the appeal succeeded.
Last week, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, confirmed that Federal Government had filed the appeal.
However, P&ID’s statement on Saturday, following a hearing at the London court indicated that the appeal had failed. Sunday PUNCH could not independently verify P&ID’s claim.
However, efforts made on Saturday to get the AGF Office to state its own side of the case failed.
Spokesperson for the AGF, Mr Umar Gwandu, who was confronted with the claims by P&ID as to the alleged developments at the London court on Friday, promised to get back to one of our correspondents.
Also, Minister of Information, Mohammed, did not respond to several calls and a text message sent to his line.
However, responding to the development in the statement, P&ID said court hearing was a welcome development.
“The eleventh-hour gambit by Nigeria’s Attorney General Abubakar Malami to avoid paying the $200m in security to the English Court on November 25 has failed,” the company said.
It further said, “This is a major milestone and P&ID welcomes the outcome of today’s hearing in London. P&ID expresses hope that the Buhari administration will now accept the reality of the Arbitration Tribunal Award and the decision of the English Court – and end the ridiculous sham investigation and show trials conducted by EFCC (Economic Financial Crimes Commission) in recent months.
“AGF Malami presented a witness statement that is neither credible nor believable and it impugns both the English court and the Arbitration proceedings chaired by Lord Leonard Hoffman. The ‘evidence’ cited by Malami and others is based purely and exclusively on a government-sanctioned campaign of harassment, intimidation and illegal detention of a number of individuals associated with P&ID or the GSPA contract. AG Malami’s campaign has been nothing more than a blatant perversion of justice and the rule of law.”
Federal High Court in Abuja had on September 19 convicted and subsequently ordered the winding up of P&ID and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited.
Mr Inyang Ekwo made the orders after the two firms, through their representatives, pleaded guilty to the 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and other sundry charges in connection with a year 2010 contract leading to the recent controversial judgment of a British court recognising the award of $9.6bn in favour of P&ID by an arbitration panel.
In his judgment, which he delivered shortly after the representatives of the companies pleaded guilty to the charges, Justice Ekwo also ordered the forfeiture of “the assets and properties” of the two firms to the Nigerian government.
While P&ID Limited incorporated in British Virgin Island was represented in the dock by its Commercial Director, Mr Mohammad Kuchazi, (P&ID Nigeria Limited) was represented by Adamu Usman, who is also a lawyer and a director of the firm.
Both men pleaded guilty to all the 11 counts on behalf of the companies.
Kuchazi was represented by his lawyer, Dandison Akurunwua, while Usman represented himself.
EFCC had on September 17, 2019, filed 11 counts against the two companies, accusing them of defrauding the Federal Government through the controversial Gas Supply Project Agreement signed between P&ID and the Nigerian government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on January 11, 2010.
The then Minister of Petroleum Resources, the late Rilwan Lukman, was said to have signed the contract for Nigeria with the then Director of Legal Services of the ministry, Mrs Grace Taiga, signed as the government’s witness.
The prosecution alleged that the late Michael Quinn, the promoter of P&ID, signed for the company while Mohammad Kuchazi (P&ID Limited’s representative in the dock) signed as the witness for the company.
The commission alleged in the charges that P&ID, through its promoter, the late Michael Quinn and others, with the intent to defraud and obtain benefit from the Federal Government’s petroleum products, falsely claimed in respect of the GSPA that it was allocated land by the Cross Rivers State Government for the construction of gas supply infrastructure.
The anti-graft agency is also prosecuting Mrs Taiga on charges connected with the controversial P&ID $9.6bn judgment.
The prosecution accused her of among other charges, receiving bribe through her offshore bank account in signing, alongside the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, the late Rilwan Lukman, the Gas Supply Processing Agreement between the Process and Industrial Developments Limited and the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Ministry on January 11, 2019.
She was also accused of violating various laws by entering into the GSPA without prior approval by the Federal Executive Council and a certificate of no objection to the contract from the Bureau of Public Enterprise.
The charges are in connection with the controversial Gas Supply Processing Agreement which led to the recent $9.6bn judgment given against Nigeria and in favour of Process and Industrial Developments by a British court.
Taiga was said to have signed as Nigeria’s witness to the GSPA while the then minister presiding over the ministry, the late Dr. Rilwan Lukman, signed as Nigeria’s representative
The EFCC is also prosecuting before Mr Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, a British national, James Nolan, who was charged with offences bordering on activities of a foreign firm, P&ID.