Nigeria yesterday recorded another victory in its ongoing legal tussle with the Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited as a London Commercial Court ordered the release of the $200 million guarantee for the stay of execution granted the country pending the appeal filed against the judgment of Justice Christopher Butcher for the execution of the Arbitral award of $10 billion to the company.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, hailed the court's ruling even as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, hailed the court's decision, saying the $200 million will enhance Nigeria's management of the exchange rate of its domestic currency, the naira, while ensuring monetary and price stability.
P&ID had sought to increase the security to $400 million, but the court presided over by Sir Ross Cranston rejected the request and ordered cost of £70,000 against P&ID.
The latest ruling comes about three weeks after the court had granted another cost of £1.5million against P&ID.
Commenting on the latest ruling, Emefiele was quoted to have said: "Due to the substantial evidence of prima facie fraud established before the court, we are pleased that the judge has agreed to release the guarantee.
"We are also pleased that the court has rejected P&ID's application to increase the guarantee, which was clearly intended to be a diversionary tactic and entirely misconceived. This release, which is an accretion into the reserves will further enhance the nation's management of the exchange rate of its domestic currency, the naira, while ensuring monetary and price stability."
According to Emefiele, the development was a further and significant victory for Nigeria in the ongoing fight to overturn the $10 billion award, "procured through fraud and corruption by P&ID and former government officials."
He added: "P&ID and its backers, Lismore Capital and VR Advisory, are increasingly seeing their case slip between their fingers. They continue to resort to employing delay tactics, disseminating misleading claims, and taking every step to obstruct our investigations across multiple jurisdictions.
"The Federal Republic of Nigeria will not rest until we secure justice for the people of Nigeria - no matter how long it takes. Investigations are ongoing, and we are confident that more of the truth will be revealed over the coming months."
The London Court had on September 10, 2020, directed P&ID to make an interim payment of more than £1.5 million within 21 days to cover legal costs Nigeria had incurred in getting the court to allow the nation file court processes outside the time provided by law.
That ruling had come about a week after the court granted Nigeria's application seeking permission to challenge the $9.6 billion arbitration award obtained by the firm based in the British Virgin Islands, well outside the normal time limits.
Spokesperson to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr. Umar Gwandu, had said in a statement: "Cranston J ordered P&ID to make an interim payment of more than £1.5 million within 21 days to cover legal costs the FRN incurred as part of their successful application for the extension of time to challenge the arbitration award and procedural hearing earlier in the year.
"He had also said that a case management conference to determine the full trial window was scheduled to take place after November 2020.
"This is another crucial win for Nigeria in our ongoing fight against the vulture-fund-backed P&ID. We are pleased that the English courts have taken our fraud challenge seriously, and awarded us a substantial interim payment in respect of our successful application for an extension of time to challenge the award.
"This is a significant blow for P&ID, who continue to attempt to delay the process."
Malami Hails Verdict
Meanwhile, Malami has expressed appreciation as the London court ordered the release of the $200million guarantee to the Nigerian government.
According to a statement issued yesterday by Gwandu, the justice minister said: "We are glad having this victory in addition to multiple successes recorded so far."
Malami said the recent judgment on Nigeria's cases against P&ID demonstrated an outcome of strong commitment and determination of the federal government through his office to tackle fraud, corruption, and non-compliance with the due process.
"Since the time the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice took over the coordination of the case, it has been a matter of success upon success," the statement said.
It enumerated the other success recorded to include order for stay of execution of the arbitral award.
According to it, Nigeria also recorded tremendous success challenging the order for cash deposit of $200million to bank guarantee.
"Success was equally recorded for having an order for the extension of time to challenge award and agreement. Nigeria was successful as the court awarded payment of legal cost of £1.5million in favour of the country. The Court ordered release of bank guarantee in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria," Malami explained.
The justice minister further maintained that Nigeria also got an award of £70,000 as further legal cost relating to the issue.
"Nigeria obtains multiple positive rulings to obtain information from banks abroad which helped in establishing fraud," he added.