Nigeria: $9.6bn Judgment - Buhari Orders EFCC, NIA to Probe 2010 Contract

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(file photo).
28 August 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the National Intelligence Agency and the police to probe the 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) entered into in 2010.

The contract, which was entered into by the federal government with Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID), had culminated into enforcement judgment of $9.6billion against the FG.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told journalists in Abuja yesterday that Buhari order a thorough investigation "into the company, the circumstances surrounding the agreement and the subsequent event, which includes commencing a full-scale criminal investigation."

He said there were indications that the agreement process was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration, "which apparently colluded with their local and international conspirators to inflict grave economic injury on Nigeria and its people."

He, however, said despite the recent recognition of the arbitration award by a UK court through the enforcement judgment, Nigeria is not about to lose any of its assets to P&ID. There is no imminent threat to Nigeria's assets".

He said after the arbitration award in 2017, Nigeria made several attempts to negotiate the award and resolve the whole issue amicably with P&ID but to no avail, which eventually led to the enforcement proceedings instituted, simultaneously, by the company in the UK and the US.

"The Federal Government then engaged the services of the US law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, which took steps to defend the proceedings in the US District Court of Columbia to dismiss P&ID's application for the enforcement of the award on the grounds that Nigeria, as a sovereign state, has an absolute right to obtain an authoritative determination of its sovereign immunity.

"While Nigeria has recorded some successes in that case in the US, the proceedings are currently on-going in the US and the Federal Government will ensure that its interest and that of the people of Nigeria are vigorously defended.

"In the first instance, the enforcement of the award cannot even commence now because the Judge in the UK court ordered that the P&ID cannot enforce the judgment against Nigeria until after the court resumes from its current vacation," he said.

What this means, according to the minister, is that enforcement action cannot begin until further hearing on the matter, which will take place on a date to be determined by the court upon its resumption.

He stressed that Nigerians should be assured that there is no immediate threat to the country's assets, adding that the government is taking all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the UK Court, to seek for a stay of execution of the decision, to defend its rights and to protect the assets of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said the government felt there was a need for a comprehensive investigation into why the Ministry of Petroleum Resources signed the contract agreement for the product it did not produce. Insinuation abound that the contract was originally designed to fail fundamentally against the background of the fact that there was inherent element of hitches that were designed into it right from conception", he added.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the $9.6bn is equivalent to N3.5trn which, she said, is enough to cover personnel cost in the country's annual budget which is about N3.2 trillion.

Also speaking, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said: "We do not have any information in our records to show that this company brought in one cent into this country and we have accordingly written to the EFCC and the Intelligence Department of the Nigeria Police that are currently investigating this matter."

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