Nigeria scores important victory in fraudulent P&ID case

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TheCable reports that in the judgment delivered on Thursday, September 3, 2020, Ross Cranston, a judge of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, granted Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.

The case could now either return to arbitration based on new evidence, or both parties will now settle out of court.

“It is not my function at this preliminary stage to decide whether a fraud took place,” Cranston said.

Quinn, P&ID founder died a couple of years ago (Vanguard)

“However, it has been necessary to consider a considerable amount of the material to decide firstly, whether, as Nigeria contended, there is a prima facie case of fraud and how strong that case is, and secondly, the steps Nigeria took to investigate the alleged fraud from late 2015.

“Both matters are relevant to the issues of whether Nigeria’s claim is barred altogether and whether time should be extended in its favour and relief from sanctions granted.”

What is this P&ID case all about?

In 2010, P&ID entered a 20-year gas contract with Nigeria. Under the terms of the contract, the company was supposed to build and operate a plant to refine natural gas into “lean gas” in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.

The gas was being flared in the Niger Delta anyway; and the federal government thought it was good business to have a company convert some of that wasted, poisonous gas into electricity in the face of Nigeria’s perennial power woes.

Abubakar Malami was the Attorney-General of the Federation during President Muhammadu Buhari's first term and has been reappointed [BBC]

The contract also stated that the government would install the necessary pipelines and infrastructure and receive the lean gas free of charge to power Nigeria’s fragile national grid, the company said.

ALSO READ: This is what Nigeria’s ‘fraudulent’ $9.6bn deal with P&ID is all about

For some reason, the contract was never executed. In 2012, P&ID dragged Nigeria to court, alleging breach of contract.

In August of 2019, P&ID won its case against Nigeria.

Initially awarded for $6.6 billion, the contract sum would rise to $9.6 billion due to accrued interest since 2013.

According to the New York Times (NYT), government officials said the contract was signed while late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was critically ill and Goodluck Jonathan was acting president.

Moves to overturn judgment

On January 31, 2017, a tribunal ruled that Nigeria should pay P&ID $6.6 billion as damages, as well as pre- and post-judgment interest at 7 percent.

The current outstanding amount is estimated at $10 billion.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan was in attendance as President Muhammadu Buhari presided over virtual meeting of the Council of State recently [Twitter/@BashirAhmaad]

The federal government had approached the court to establish that the contract was awarded on illegal terms.

Nigeria’s lawyers told the court in July that P&ID officials paid bribes to get the contract.

Nigeria has been making moves to overturn the judgement and has received court clearances requesting documents from a P&ID stakeholder.

Nigeria has also been granted permission to review bank statements of ex-President Jonathan, Diezani Alison-Madueke and Rilwanu Lukman, former ministers of petroleum.

On August 18, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Briton James Nolan and six companies over their alleged involvement in the contract.

Source: Pulse Nigeria.

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