Abuja, Oct. 24, 2023: A Business and Property Court in London presided over by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales has quashed the 11 billion dollars awarded against Nigeria in a case filed by the Process and Industrial Developments Company, (P&ID).
Judge Knowles held that the award was obtained by fraud and that what had happened in the case was contrary to public policy.
The court also declared that it did not find any merit in the charges of bribery levelled against a former Attorney-General of Lagos State, Mr Olasupo
Shasore, SAN, who represented Nigeria in the arbitration.
The case marked: CL-2019-000752, the Federal Government sought to overturn $6.6 billion arbitration awarded in favour of P&ID in 2017.
The award had continued to accrue interest since then, rising to approximately $11 billion before the judgment.
The dispute dated to 2010 when P&ID Limited entered into a gas supply and processing agreement with Nigeria, with plans to establish an Accelerated Gas Development project in Cross River State.
The project never materialised, and P&ID subsequently accused Nigeria of breaching the contract terms.
P&ID claimed Nigeria violated terms of its agreement by failing to provide gas for the power plant it wanted to build for the country.
In 2015, P&ID won a judgment for a $10 billion compensation.
This frustrated the construction of the Gas Project agreed to during the government of former president Umaru Yar’Adua and deprived P&ID the potential benefits expected from 20 years’ worth of gas supplies with “anticipated profits of $5 to $6 billion.”
The arbitral tribunal unanimously decided that the Federal Government had repudiated the GSPA by failure to perform its obligations under the GSPA and ruled that P&ID was entitled to $6.6 billion in 2017.
The fine, along with the interest, subsequently rose to $11.5 billion.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan government reached an out-of-tribunal agreement for the payment of $850 million and passed on the disbursement to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But Buhari refused to pay 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 making it $9 billion.
Also, Shasore was accused of obstructing Nigeria’s legal proceedings against the British Virgin Islands-based company.
Shasore was charged with allegations of negligence and inadequate due diligence in handling the case.
In his defense, the ex-Lagos A-G maintained that he had done everything within his power to secure the best outcome for the country.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Knowles ruled that the award was obtained by fraud.
Knowles, in his verdict, stated, “As far as I am aware, Mr. Shasore, SAN, has not, in my judgment, been shown to be corrupt.
“His actions are inconsistent with Nigeria’s theory that he was.
“I add that in my view, Nigeria (and specifically Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, the former Attorney-General of the Federation) did not in truth believe Mr Shasore, SAN was corrupt.
“On 21st November, 2017, Shasore, SAN was engaged by Nigeria to represent the Ministry of Power in a $2.4bn arbitration claim by Sunrise Power and Transmission Co.
“His appointment was approved by Malami, SAN, on 6th March, 2018, and formally confirmed by Mr Malami, SAN, on 18th March, 2018,” he said.
The judge cited several reasons for his decision, highlighting Shasore’s sound advice to Nigeria to investigate and obtain expert evidence, his assistance in succeeding in Nigerian court applications, his contribution to reducing settlement figures, and his vigorous challenges against P&ID during the liability hearing.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, has said that judgment of the UK Court has vindicated Nigeria in case against the Process and Industrial Development Ltd (P&ID).
Fagbemi, said this on Monday in Abuja, in his reaction to the judgment delivered by London’s Business and Property Court Judge, Robin Knowles, involving the whooping sum of over US$11 billion, which favoured the Federal Government.
The minister, who was addressing State House Correspondents, said the judgment would serve as a pointer to others, who might be nursing or nurturing any plan to swindle Nigeria.
He added that the case, which went on for many years, has finally now been resolved in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Fagbemi said: “This successful result is a decisive victory for the people of Nigeria, who stood to lose over US$11 billion, and for the Nigerian administration, which has now reached a milestone in its mission to challenge the scourge of corruption.
“The judgment also serves as a damning indictment of predatory international investors, who should now rightfully be deterred from preying upon Nigeria and other developing nations to satisfy their greed.
“P&ID and its associates, both Nigerians and foreigners alike, shamelessly attempted to defraud the country and enrich themselves through sharing the FRN’s privileged documents, fraud, bribery and corruption on an industrial
The minister said that it was imperative to point out that several agents of P&ID made overtures to the government for the settlement of the case.
He, however, said that the Tinubu administration’s resolve not to go hands in gloves with fraudulent counterparties or condone corruption, informed the Federal Government’s position to hold fast to its position not to settle.
“The success recorded was as a result of close inter-agency collaboration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FGN) team, comprising the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Justice and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“Others are the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR), the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU),” Fagbemi said.
The minister disclosed that there would be further hearings by the UK Court on the heels of the judgment in order to determine costs payable by P&ID and other matters.
Fagbemi explained that the crux of the court’s judgment was that Nigeria’s challenge to the arbitration award granted against it to the obscure hedge-fund backed BVI Shell entity (P&ID) in 2017 has succeeded.
He further explained that the court found out that the award had been obtained by fraud and in a way that was contrary to public policy.
The minister said the Judge concluded that P&ID obtained the award only by practising the most severe abuses of the arbitral process, which brought together a combination of examples of what some individuals would do for money.
“Driven by greed and prepared to use corruption; giving no thought to what their enrichment would mean in terms of harm to others.
“For us in this administration, it has been a night of long knives! This success marks the culmination of over a decade of legal action and is not just a victory for the people of Nigeria, but any similar target of corruption and fraud,” he said.