Federal government to stop UK court’s $9 billion award against Nigeria

The Federal Government said on Friday that it was taking steps to stop the enforcement of a judgment of the United Kingdom, Business & Property Courts (the Commercial Court) which awarded a cumulative sum of $9bn award against Nigeria and in favour of a foreign firm, Process & Industrial Developments Limited.

The Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata, said this in a statement in which he confirmed that the United Kingdom court presided over by Justice Butcher on Friday “granted P&ID’s enforcement application which converts the arbitration award secured by P&ID into a domestic UK judgment against Nigeria.”

Apata, who doubles as the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, said, “The Federal Ministry of Justice wishes to reassure the general public that Nigeria is considering all available options to appeal the decision, to defends its rights, and to protect the assets of the people of the Federal Republic.

“Nigeria therefore intends to strongly avail itself of all defenses customarily afforded to sovereign states under the United Kingdom Sovereign Immunity Act at any such enforcement actions.”

Apata explained that in the arbitration, P&ID claimed to have expended $40m in preliminary expenses on an accelerated gas development project in Nigeria’s Oil Mining Leases 67 and 123, “but P&ID never began the construction of the project facility in Nigeria.”

He added, “Despite this, P&ID’s claim in the arbitration was for loss of profit for the entire 20 years of the project.

“The claim started at $1.9bn but P&ID later increased its claim to $5.9bn. After the tribunal ruled that Nigeria had breach the contract, Nigeria successfully applied to have that award set aside by the Federal High Court in Lagos.”

He said the arbitral tribunal ignored the decision of the Federal High Court and on January 31, 2017 delivered its final award against Nigeria through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the sum of $6.597bn together with pre-award interest at the rate of seven per cent per annum effective from March 20, 2013 and post-award interest at the same rate till date of payment.

“This interest has increased the size of the award to a sum in excess of $9bn,” Apata said.

He said the government’s expert had concluded that the damages “were clearly unreasonable and manifestly excessive and exorbitant”, “went far beyond any legitimate protection of the commercial interests of P&ID”; were “completely wrong and obviously unjustifiable”; and overcompensated “P&ID on a, frankly, gargantuan scale, and impose[d] a punitive award on Nigeria”.

He added, “It was on these grounds, and others, that the Federal Republic took all available steps to resist enforcement before the courts of the United Kingdom.

“Other efforts are being taken in the courts of the United States of America to protect Nigeria interests.”

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