P&ID: FG’s Victory Is Warning To Swindlers, Says AGF
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, has described the legal victory the Federal Government secured against Industrial Developments Limited, P&ID, at the United Kingdom, UK, Commercial Court on Monday, as a warning to those that are nursing or nurturing any plan to swindle Nigeria.
The AGF, in a statement in Abuja, maintained that the judgement was not only a decisive victory for the people of Nigeria who stood to lose over $11 billion but also for the President Bola Tinubu-led administration which he said “has now reached a milestone in its mission to challenge the scourge of corruption.”
Disclosing that several agents of P&ID made overtures to FG for settlement of the case, the AGF, said the judgement that was delivered in favour of Nigeria by Justice Robin St John Knowles of the UK court, “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.”
He said: “As you may all be aware by now, the Honourable Mr Justice Robin St John Knowles of the United Kingdom Commercial Court today handed down a historic judgement in the suit where the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) moved to set aside the arbitral award of US$9.6 (now circa USD11 Billion) made against it in 2017, in favour of Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) for an alleged breach of a Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) it purportedly entered into with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR) to establish a gas processing plant in Calabar for which P&ID never ever secured any land site.
“The Arbitral Award had over the years placed the assets of the FRN and those of its agencies all over the world at the risk of attachment, erosion of foreign reserves and distortion of monetary, fiscal and other policies of government with attendant dire consequences for Nigeria and its people.
“This emphasised the need for FRN to vigorously challenge and resist the enforcement of the Award by P&ID.
“The High Court has today ruled that the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s (FRN) challenge to the arbitration award granted against it to an obscure hedge-fund backed BVI shell entity Process & Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) in 2017 has been successful.
“The judgment handed down today found that the award had been obtained by fraud and in a way which was contrary to public policy.
“In particular, the Judge concluded that P&ID obtained the award only by ‘practising the most severe abuses of the arbitral process.’
“This case has also, sadly, 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.
“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 scale. Those efforts, which took place over many years, have finally been uncovered for all to see.
“It is imperative to point out that several agents of P&ID made overtures to the Government for the settlement of this case.
“However, the resolve of the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to go hands in gloves with fraudulent counterparties or condone corruption informed the position of the FRN to hold fast to its position and not to settle.
“Indeed, earlier this morning, the President at the opening ceremony of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, reiterated this cardinal position of his administration.
“History has been made today, as this judgment is no doubt significant in the annals of Nigeria and indeed Africa.
“This judgement has vindicated the government and should serve as a pointer to others who might be nursing or nurturing any plan to swindle Nigeria.
“There will be further hearings by the UK court on the heels of this judgement to determine costs payable by P&ID and other matters,” the AGF stated.
Meanwhile, the UK court had in its judgement, said it found no merit in the bribery allegation that was levelled against a former Attorney-General of Lagos State, Olasupo Shasore, SAN, who was representing Nigeria in the arbitration.
Shasore was accused of obstructing Nigeria’s legal proceedings against the British Virgin Islands-based company.
He faced allegations of negligence and lack of diligence in handling the case, with claims that he had inadequately defended Nigeria’s interests.
However, Shasore, in his defence, maintained that he had done everything within his power to secure the best outcome for the country.
In his verdict, Justice Knowles, held thus: “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 Malami SAN, the Attorney General) did not in truth believe Mr Shasore, SAN, was corrupt.
“On 21 November 2017 Mr 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 Mr Malami SAN on 6 March 2018 and formally confirmed by Mr Malami, SAN on 18 March 2018.”
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.