[File] Cameras televise British crown court proceedings live for the first time
The Business and Property Court in London on Monday halted the enforcement of the $11bn arbitration award in favour of P&ID against Nigeria in a case marked CL-2019-000752.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Robert Knowles, it was held that the process through which P&ID secured a 2010 contract to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State, was fraudulent.
“In the circumstances and for the reasons I have sought to describe and explain. Nigeria succeeds in its challenge under section 68. I have not accepted all of Nigeria’s allegations. But the Awards were obtained by fraud and the Awards were and the way in which they were procured was contrary to public policy.
“What happened in this case is very serious indeed, and it is important that section 68 has been available to maintain the rule of law,” Justice Knowles said in his ruling, a copy of which was sighted by our correspondent in Abuja.
Over the years, Nigeria has been involved in a fight with Process & Industrial since the company accused the Nigerian government of botching a deal by failing to provide gas to them.
The country had suffered a $6.6bn judgement debt in 2017 when the arbitration tribunal ordered the country to pay P&ID with interest to start counting from March 2013.
P&ID, in its claims, said Nigeria violated the terms of its agreement by failing to provide gas for the power plant it wants to build for the country.
The government of Former president Goodluck Jonathan reached an out-of-tribunal agreement for the payment of $850 million and passed on disbursement to the administration of President Buhari.
Buhari baulked at the idea of paying the negotiated sum, set aside the settlement agreement, and challenged the enforcement of the award before the English Commercial Court. But the London court added $2.4 billion in interest, making it $9bn.
The judge granted Nigeria’s request for a stay on any asset seizures while its legal challenge is pending but ordered it to pay $200 million to the court within 60 days to ensure the stay. It also must pay some court costs to P&ID within 14 days.
The original decision on August 16 converted an arbitration award held by P&ID to a legal judgment, which would allow the British Virgin Islands-based firm to try to seize international assets.
In 2018, Nigeria began investigating the company through the EFCC and found evidence of two bank transfers totalling $20,000 made by Dublin-based Industrial Consultants (International) Ltd. — part of the P&ID group of companies—to Grace Taiga, a Nigerian government lawyer who oversaw the award of the gas plant contract.