As Nigerian legal team departs for London ahead of Thursday case
Soni Daniel – Northern Region Editor
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said last night it would pursue all options available to it in its bid to set aside a monumental cash award to a shadowy Irish/Nigerian firm, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited, which had won the compensation on the orders of a United Kingdom Commercial and Arbitration court over a botched Gas Supply and Processing Agreement.
Malami made the disclosure as the country’s legal team led by him departed Abuja yesterday for London for consultation with their foreign counterparts over the appeal being lodged by Nigeria, which is to be heard on Thursday this week.
Malami in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr Umar Gwandu, said that the federal government’s team was determined to take appropriate steps to get the award set aside arising from the last week’s trial and conviction of the company’s directors and the firm in Nigeria over fraud, corruption and money laundering.
A Federal High Court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo, also ordered the forfeiture of the assets of P&ID to Nigeria based on the fact that the company had pleaded guilty to the charges filed against it by the Nigerian Government.
According to Malami, the Nigerian legal team was set to explore all legal avenues to get the award off the shoulders of Nigeria since it is convinced that P&ID defaulted on its contract by not even building the so-called gas plants through which the Ministry of Petroleum was to supply gas to it.
Malami said: “All cards are on the table including the possibility of filling a new case and or using existing proceedings to seek relief of setting aside the award (of the contract) cannot be ruled out”.
On Thursday last week, when the FHC Abuja ruled against P&ID, the Justice Minister had declared: “Nigeria is expected to review its strategy in view of the unfolding development as it relates to the conviction of some of the suspects that have admitted to fraud and corruption that gave rise to the award.
“The implication of today’s conviction of the suspects by the FHC in Nigeria is that Nigeria has a judicial proof of fraud and corruption as a foundation of the relationship that gave rise to a purported liability and arbitral award.
“From the available evidence, Nigeria now has a cogent ground to ask for the setting aside of the entire liability.
“This is because, in law, a liability that is rooted in fraud and corruption cannot stand judicial enforceability,” Malami said.
Under the botched contract entered into between the company and Nigeria, the Ministry of Petroleum was to supply within two years from January 11, 2010, when the contract was signed to 2012 a total of 400 million standard cubic feet of wet gas for the company to process into lean gas and return 85 per cent to Nigeria.
However, there is no indication that the company, which has two Nigerian directors on its board, ever built any structure anywhere in the country in readiness for the gas supply, which the petroleum ministry also did not supply.
On Friday, the Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Petroleum at the time, who signed the questionable contract on behalf of Nigeria, Grace Taiga, was arraigned before the FCT High Court, which remanded her in Suleija Prison pending application for bail, which is to be heard on Wednesday this week.