British court has ruled against Nigeria in a business suit between the country and a private entity.
The firm is an engineering and project management company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. The court says, it now has the right to seize $9bn in Nigerian assets.
The ruling, delivered on Friday by Justice Butcher, bordered on a 2010 contract Nigeria signed with P&ID, to the intent that the latter would build a state-of-the-art gas processing plant to refine natural gas (“wet gas”) into “lean gas” that Nigeria would receive free of charge to power its national electric grid.
The lucrative natural gas liquid by-products (propane, ethane, butane) of this processing would be sold by P&ID on the international market, with expected profits in the billions of dollars,” the firm stated on its website.
“The agreement suffered a setback and, in 2013, P&ID won a $6.6bn arbitration case against the Federal Government.
Reports in Nigerian media had in February said that the ‘P&ID V Nigeria’ case had been heard variously at the United States District Courts of Columbia, the United States Court of Appeal, as well as the Business and Property Courts of the United Kingdom.
A press statement made available to newsmen by Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to then Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) at the time confirmed the case.
The Press release reportedly stated that it was entirely proper for Nigeria to “assert all available and proper defences to the claims brought by Process Industrial Development Limited.”
It reads that: “The attention of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to series of online publications grossly misrepresenting facts of the (then) on-going litigation between Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) Vs Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) & Anor, pending before the United States District Court of the District of Columbia (District Court), the United States Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Court of Appeal) and the Business and Property Courts of the United Kingdom (Commercial Court).
“The dispute that led to Arbitration between FGN and P&ID arose from a 20-year Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) entered in 2010 between FGN (through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) and P&ID in respect of an accelerated gas development project in Nigeria’s OMLs 67 and 123.
“P&ID never began the construction of the project facility, although it alleges it incurred about $40m in preliminary expenses.
“P&ID’s claim in the arbitration proceedings was mainly for loss of profit for the entire 20-year term of the GSPA, initially claiming the sum of $1.9bn and later increasing its claim to $5.9bn.
The federal government is yet to respond to this situation. Nigeria has assets domiciled in banks abroad. The country also has properties in Europe and America.
The new Attorney General who will be sworn in next week has his or her work cut out.