Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed on Wednesday declared the recent trip by some top government officials to London over the P&ID issue a huge success as the delegation secured all the three objectives that it intended.
Mohammed who briefed the press in Abuja enumerated the objectives as changing the international narrative on the entire P&ID issue; obtaining leave of the commercial court to appeal the judgement that recognised the arbitration award and; securing a stay of execution on the judgment that recognised the approximately $9.6 billion-arbitration award to P&ID over a botched, 20-year gas deal with Nigeria.
According to him, “Federal government now has an unconditional permission to appeal against the decision of the Commercial Court recognising and converting the $9.6 billion arbitration award in favour of P&ID to a domestic judgment.
“The judge expressly recognised that the case was of major importance to the Government and people of Nigeria, and that the Federal Government had a serious case to present to the Court of Appeal that his decision was wrong.
“All but one of the six proposed grounds of appeal by the Nigerian government were all allowed by the Commercial Court. This is a huge success.
“The judge also granted the Federal government a stay of any enforcement proceedings pending the determination of any appeal.”
The Minister explained that the judge also accepted the evidence as to the weak financial status of P&ID and the fact that it was nothing more than an offshore company with no established business, staff or assets other than the arbitral award that it was trying to enforce and that it would be unable to repay the proceeds of any enforcement if the Court of Appeal overturned his decision granting leave to enforce the award.
“The judge also recognised that the ownership of P&ID was opaque, and that a vulture fund stands behind it which had engaged lawyers determined to pursue a strategy including the temporary seizure of assets, regardless of state immunity claims”, he added.
On some of the conditions imposed by the judge, Mohammed who mentioned some of the individuals on the trip as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Godwin Emefiele; Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu; Assistant Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Lamorde and EFCC Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu said Federal Government shall pay the sum of $200 million into the Court Funds Office within 60 days of the date of this order in addition to making a payment of £250,000, representing P&ID’s solicitors advance costs, within a period 14 working days.
“It was indeed a huge victory, and P&ID has every reason to be worried that the $9.6 billion arbitration award to it has a good chance of being overturned.
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“The Federal Government has a good chance of being successful in its impending appeal, otherwise the Commercial Court would not have allowed the appeal.
“Please note, gentlemen, that Nigeria will be able to demand for a refund of the 250,000 GBP payment to P&ID where the government wins on the appeal.
“On the $200 million payment as a condition for the granting of the stay of execution, Nigeria has instructed its lawyers to seek the leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal against that payment.”
While in London, the delegation spoke with media houses like AP, AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg, BBC, Financial Times, The Economist, The African Confidential, Royal African Society and the Red Lions Chambers, a leading Barrister’s Chambers in London, among others as well as some unnamed group of experts and stakeholders.