In a bid to upturn the $9.6 billion judgement award in favour of a firm, P&ID, the Federal Government may have begun moves to extradite a key director of the firm, Adam Quinn, to face trial in Nigeria.
Indications to this emerged yesterday when an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the British national, Adam Quinn, over his alleged involvement in the failed gas supply contract that led to $9.6billion judgement liability against Nigeria.
Trial judge, Justice Okon Abang ordered his arrest, after he heard an ex-parte application the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, brought to facilitate his extradition.
The anti-graft agency, in an eight-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one of its lead investigators, Aminu Lawal, told the court that intelligence report indicated that Quinn, who had been at large, "resides in London and Dublin and some other undetermined locations in Spain."
It averred that the wanted Briton was one of the brains behind Process & Industrial Development Limited of British Virgin Islands, which the court earlier convicted in charge No. FHC/ABJ/CR/230/20I9, after its director pleaded guilty to fraud allegations the Federal Government of Nigeria levelled against them.
"That Adam Quinn is also one of the directing minds of ICIL Limited and of Goidel Resources Limited.
"That ICIL Limited and Goidel Resources Limited are defendants in the current Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/239/19 before this court and facing multiple counts of charges for money laundering and tax evasion," EFCC added.
Warrant of arrest
Counsel to the agency, Mr. Ekele Iheanacho, prayed the court to, in the interest of justice, issue a warrant of arrest for to enable FG to pursue the extradition of Quinn whose name he said appeared over 25 times in the 32-count amended criminal charge FG preferred against his compatriot and associate, James Nolan who was remanded at the Correctional Centre after he failed to perfect his bail conditions.
He argued that the court has the statutory powers under Sections 3, 35, 36 and 37 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, to issue a warrant for the arrest of Quinn, named in counts 1, 2, 4, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the criminal charge pending against him and Nolan.
In a bench ruling, Justice Abang agreed with EFCC that granting the arrest warrant would assist FG to extradite Quinn to Nigeria to face trial over his role in the alleged P&ID gas supply and processing contract scam.
"I think the application deserves to succeed to enable the prosecution that represents the Federal Government of Nigeria which is the complainant, to commence extradition proceedings against Adam Quinn, one of the persons mentioned in counts 1, 2, 4, 14, 15,16, 17, 18, and 18- 31 in the amended charge dated November 20 and filed the same day.
"Therefore, it is hereby ordered as prayed in line with reliefs endorsed in the motion paper. An order is hereby made issuing a warrant of arrest for the purpose of arresting Adam Quinn, a person whose name appeared in the amended charge to enable the Federal Republic of Nigeria to commence the process of having Adam Quinn extradited to Nigeria to give explanation with regard to his alleged involvement in some counts in the charge," Justice Abang held.
He subsequently adjourned the matter till January 20 and 21 for continuation of Nolan's trial.
Nolan, who was identified as a signatory to accounts of P&ID Nigeria and the In-Country Support Manager of P&ID, Virgin Islands, firms that were involved in the alleged contract scam, was docked before the court on October 21.
Aside allegation of money laundering, the defendant who was charged alongside Quinn (at large), and two firms, Goidel Resources Limited and ICIL Limited, was alleged to have engaged in sundry acts of fraud, tax evasion and failure to disclose their activities to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in line with the Money Laundering Act.
Justice Abang had on Nov. 7, admitted him to bail in the sum of N500 million with one surety in like sum.
The court however stressed that the surety must be a Nigerian and a serving Senator without a pending criminal case in any court.
How it started
On January 11, 2010, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), a company based in the British Virgin Islands, signed a contract with the Federal Government of Nigeria. This contract is called a gas supply and processing agreement. Nigeria's government allegedly agreed that, over a 20-year period, it would supply natural gas (wet gas) to P&ID's production facility.
In return, P&ID would process the wet gas by removing natural gas liquids and return approximately 85% of it to the government in the form of lean gas. This lean gas was to be returned at no cost to the Nigerian government.
Based on this agreement, Nigeria was supposed to arrange for the supply of wet gas to P&ID's gas processing facility which it intended to build in Cross Rivers State. This required government to construct pipelines and arrange facilities for transporting the wet gas.
P&ID viewed this failure as a repudiation of the contract, meaning the government renounced their obligation under the contract. Consequently, in March 2013, P&ID began an arbitration action against government before a London tribunal.
Clause 20 of the agreement, which both parties signed, provided that any disputes were to be resolved by arbitration, with the seat of arbitration being London, England or any other place agreed by the parties. Nigeria tried to contest this, but its appeal to have the tribunal sit in Nigeria failed.
At the tribunal, P&ID claimed that it had invested $40 million in the project even though it had not acquired the land or built any facilities for gas processing. It claimed damages of about $6.6 billion dollars: the amount of the net income it would have earned over the 20-year period of the agreement.
In response, the government argued that the damages claimed were not a fair and reasonable consequence of the government's breach of the agreement. This is because P&ID never commenced building the gas processing facility. It also argued that P&ID should be awarded only three years' worth of income as by that time, the company should have found some other profitable investment which would reduce its losses from the breach.
Similarly, the government objected to the measure of estimated expenses and income stream which P&ID used to calculate its damages claim.
In July 2015 the tribunal decided that by failing to fulfill its obligations, the government had repudiated the agreement. P&ID was therefore entitled to damages.
In January 2017, the tribunal, by a majority of two to one made a final award of $6.597 billion together with interest at the rate of 7% starting from 20 March 2013 until payment is made. The 7% interest reflects what P&ID would have paid to borrow the money or earned by investing the money in Nigeria.
Following the tribunal's award of damages, in March 2018, P&ID brought an action before the Queen's Bench Division of the English Commercial Court. It wanted permission to enforce the damages
FG moves against judgement
One month after the P&ID judgment, the Nigeria government filed an action seeking for stay of execution of the UK court's decision. The process was sequel to a formal appeal which the Nigerian government had also filed before the court. After hearing arguments by Nigeria's legal team led by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the UK Commercial and Arbitration Court granted a stay of execution of the $9.6 billion judgment. The court however ordered Federal Government to make a security payment of $200 million to the court
Relief by the judgment, Federal Government filed a criminal charge against top officials of P&ID officials before the Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja for tax invasion and fraudulent practices. Those charged before the court were the company's Commercial Director, Mohammed Kuchazi and Process Director, Adamu Usman. They both pleaded guilty to the 11-count charges. Following their conviction, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the seizure of the company's assets both in Nigeria and in the British Virgin Islands.
The FG has also arraigned other persons involved in the alleged fraudulent transaction.