EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has applauded the dismissal of a $6.6 billion arbitrary judgment against Nigeria won by Process & Industry Development, P&ID Ltd, over a failed 2010 deal to develop a gas processing plant in the country.
In a significant legal ruling on Monday, UK Judge Robin Knowles, presiding over the Business and Property Court in London, determined that a $10 billion judgment awarded against Nigeria was fraudulently obtained.
The case involved a prolonged legal battle between Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ,EFCC and Process & Industrial Developments ,P&ID, a global firm.
P&ID claimed that Nigeria breached the terms of an agreement by failing to supply gas for a power plant, which was intended to benefit the country.
The violation, according to the company, impeded the construction of the Gas Project and deprived P&ID of the anticipated profits of $5 to $6 billion, which were expected over a 20-year period.
This ruling sheds light on a complex international legal dispute with financial implications and underscores the challenges faced by both parties in their contractual obligations. The judgment’s fraudulent nature has brought further attention to issues of corruption and integrity within the case.
Based on its claims, the arbitral tribunal unanimously decided that the Nigerian government had repudiated the Gas Supply and Processing GSPA, by failure to perform its obligations under the agreement and awarded P&ID $6.6 billion in 2017. That fine along with interest has now risen to $11.5billion.
A previous administration reached an out-of-tribunal agreement for the payment of $850 million, and the disbursement was passed on to the administration of President Muhammad Buhari, who balked 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.
However, the London court added $2.4 billion in interest, bringing the total to $9 billion. The judge granted Nigeria’s request for a stay on any asset seizures while its legal challenge is pending, but ordered the country to pay the court $200 million within 60 days to ensure the stay. It must also pay P&ID’s court costs within 14 days.
The court’s decision converted an arbitration award held by P&ID to a legal judgment, allowing the British Virgin Islands-based company to seize international assets.
Irked by the shadiness and hollowness of the claims of P&ID, Nigeria began investigating the company through the EFCC and found evidence of two bank transfers totaling $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.
The EFCC, challenging the payments through its counsel, Bala Sanga, said, the payments, in 2017 and 2018, were made from an Industrial Consultants account at Allied Irish Banks and were purportedly for “medical costs”.
Based on this new evidence, which the EFCC considered to be ‘seismic’, Nigeria filed fraud challenges against P&ID but the company has failed to respond to the charges.
Trials of key suspects allegedly involved in the fraud are ongoing at various levels of court in Abuja.
Sanga, in some of his appearances in court for the EFCC, had pointed out that, “It is increasingly clear that this was a highly orchestrated scam”.
The Commission had also pointed out that, P&ID’s lawyers have not been able to prove that it legitimately, and lawfully, secured a 20-year contract worth hundreds of millions of Naira.
“The company has yet to even demonstrate that they had the credentials in the first place to carry out such a complex arrangement, nor provide any evidence of tangible investment or landholding. The award in question, which amounts to over eight times Nigeria’s national health budget, could be used for far more important, and genuine, public issues at the current time….”, it said.
The EFCC further argued that, “Nigeria does not even have the capacity to pay the judgment debt. Nigeria’s international assets, oil cargoes, P&ID were supposed to be seized, if Nigeria lost the appeal.
However, with the Monday judgment Nigerian assets are safe both at home and abroad.
Two British nationals, James Richard Nolan and Adam Quinn (at large), were, on October 18, 2021, re-arraigned before Justice D.U. Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja for their alleged complicity in the controversial Process and Industrial Development gas processing contract, leading to the $9.6bn arbitral award to P&ID Limited by a United Kingdom commercial court.
The defendants, both directors of Goidel Resources Limited, a Designated Non-Financial Institution , DNFI and ICIL Limited, were docked on a 32 count- charge bordering on money laundering. Their trial still continues.