Government appeals $200m deposit ruling in P&ID case

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has instructed its lawyers to appeal against the payment of $200 million conditional deposit for the granting of the stay of execution in the $9.6 billion award in favour of Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID).

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, noted that government had changed the ‘false’ narrative being peddled by the Irish firm within and outside Nigeria by presenting a stronger evidence that the company was a ‘fraud’ ab nitio, adding that Nigeria would be able to demand a refund of 250,000 pound payment to P&ID when the appeal is won.

Mohammed noted that had Nigeria lost its quest for a stay of execution on the UK judgment that recognised the approximately $9.6 billion arbitration award over a botched 20-year gas deal, the Irish company would “by now be attempting to seize our assets all over the world.”

‘’It was indeed a huge victory, and P&ID has every reason to be worried that the $9.6 billion arbitration award to it has a good chance of being overturned. Remember they boasted before the judgment that they have started compiling a list of our assets which they will attach. But now, that’s an empty boast, thanks to the successes recorded in the court of law and the court of public opinion last week,” he stated.

The minister said Nigeria had a good chance of emerging successful in the pending appeal, adding that the delegation had argued that a contract of such magnitude could not be valid until it had been vetted by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and sanctioned by the Federal Executive Council.

‘’None of these was done. The sham contract was also signed in contravention of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act and the Infrastructural Regulatory Commission Procurement Act,” Mohammed clarified.

He noted: ‘’While the MoU for the project was signed in 2009 by P&ID Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian government (Ministry of Petroleum Resources), a ‘tricky’ clause dubiously inserted in the MoU was curiously activated that allowed British Virgin Island (BVI)-registered P&ID to replace the original contractual party, P&ID Nigeria Limited, to sign the contract on January 11, 2010.”

The minister disclosed that P&ID, incorporated in BVI, was a “shell company that has no history of any business except the phantom GSPA in Nigeria.”

He added that there was no board resolution approving the assignment of the contractual interest to P&ID BVI, and that the firm never kick-started the construction of the project facility despite its claim to have invested $40 million in Nigeria.

“The company also never acquired any land to build the gas processing plant,” the minister stated.

Mohammed alleged that there was no proof of any financial commitment by P&ID towards the execution of its own obligations as stipulated in the 2010 agreement, adding that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) confirmed that there was no trace of any funds brought into Nigeria by the Irish organisation.

According to him, “two directors of P&ID Nigeria (as well as) Kuchazi, a Director of P&ID BVI, and Adamu Usman Mohammed, a Director of P&ID Nigeria, have been convicted of charges of money laundering and economic sabotage while suspicious payments were made to Mrs. Grace Taiga, the (ex) Legal Director in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

‘’Mrs. Taiga was supposed to ensure that the interest of the country was adequately protected. Of course, the payment, transferred in three tranches, could only have been made in appreciation of the ‘good deed’ done to P&ID by Mrs. Taiga. Also, billions of naira in suspicious cash transfers were made by P&ID. Investigations continue into these transfers.”

As regards the contract, the gas for the project was to come from OML 67 operated by ExxonMobil and OML 123 run by Addax, yet none of the two companies was aware of the agreement.

Mohammed went on: “For such a supposedly important project, there was no budgetary provision for the implementation of the GSPA in the budget of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010, and P&ID did not obtain the necessary licence to deal in petroleum products from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as stipulated by extant laws.

“The firm also neither filed tax returns nor paid VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as required by law.”

He added: “The Nigerian government won a leave of the commercial court to appeal the judgment which P&ID had vehemently resisted. The court granted the Federal Government unconditional permission to appeal against its own decision, and the court rejected P&ID’s arguments that there was no basis for any appeal. On the contrary, the judge expressly recognised that the case was of major importance to the government and people of Nigeria, and that the Federal Government had a serious case to present to the Court of Appeal that its decision was wrong.”

He said, “all but one of the six proposed grounds of appeal by the Nigerian government was allowed by the Commercial Court. This is a huge success.”

The minister recalled that the British court also granted a stay of any enforcement proceedings pending the determination of any appeal.

Mohammed went on: “He (judge) accepted the Federal Government’s evidence as to the weak financial status of P&ID and the fact that it was nothing more than an offshore company with no established business, staff or assets other than the arbitral award that it was trying to enforce.

“It would be unable to repay the proceeds of any enforcement if the Court of Appeal overturned his decision granting leave to enforce the award.”

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