A court in the United Kingdom has delivered an unprecedented judgment, permitting Nigeria to proceed with its challenge of an arbitral award (now over $10 billion) made against it over three years ago, and also agreed that the country had established a prima facie case of fraud against the benefiting firm, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID).
The arbitration decision was over a failed Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) between P&ID, an Irish firm, and the federal government of Nigeria.
In a swift reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari said the judgment had given Nigeria the lead to protect its national assets from a criminally-minded group, adding, “the gas contract was fraudulent and only an attempt to defraud Nigeria of its hard earned resources.”
Last year, a commercial court in London upheld the earlier arbitration award to P&ID, which had then accumulated to about $9.6 billion, threatening to seize the nation’s foreign assets, which Nigeria is currently challenging.
The country had in July filed an application for extension of time to enable it submit necessary evidence to prove that the said P&ID contract was a scam abinitio.
The British court in its ruling on Thursday allowed Nigeria to file necessary documents outside the normal time limits permitted by law, “due to the exceptional circumstances where Nigeria has uncovered evidence of a massive fraud in procuring the award.”
Justice Ross Cranston of the United Kingdom’s Royal Court of Justice ruled that Nigeria has established a prima facie case of fraud against P&ID in the country’s bid to upturn the arbitration penalty awarded to the shadowy company.
Sir Cranston, in his judgment, which also granted Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions, noted the unethical and dishonest conduct of Mr. Supo Shasore, SAN, a former Attorney-General of Lagos State and former partner at Ajumogobia and Okeke in the fraudulent deal.
“… That Nigeria’s counsel in the arbitration, Mr. Shasore dishonestly failed to challenge Mr. Quinn’s perjured evidence or to seek disclosure from P&ID such that Tribunal had no choice but to find favour…
“However, what persuades me of a prima facie case of dishonesty in Mr. Shashore’s conduct of the arbitration, are his payments of $100,000 each to Mrs. Adelore and Mr. Oguine. Mrs. Adelore occupied Ms. Taiga’s position at the Ministry as the senior lawyer and Mr Oguine was her counterpart at the NNPC. Their salaries as public servants, according to the Attorney-General, Mr. Malami, were about $5,000 per annum,” Sir Cranston said in his judgment.