The Nigerian Government says it has succeeded in changing the false narrative being peddled by Process and Industrial Development on the recent 9.6 billion dollar judgment by a commercial court in the UK.
At a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the country’s Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed thanked the Media for its largely objective and patriotic reportage of the whole issue, despite attempts by the desperate P&ID to influence the narrative.
The minister said”the Nigerian government has now successfully told the story both within and outside Nigeria by Putting across strong evidence that the company s nothing but a fraud.”
He said now the country has recorded great successes in both the court of law and the court of public opinion last week.
As it stands, Mohammed said the Government has a good chance of being successful in its impending appeal, otherwise the Commercial Court would not have allowed the appeal.
Reeling out some aspects of the judgment, particularly, the conditions for the appeal, he said; ”Nigeria will be able to demand for a refund of the 250,000 Pounds payment to P&ID where the government wins on the appeal. He decried how this fact is being hidden by those who have been spinning the London judgment in favor of P&ID.
Again, On the 200 million US dollars payment as a condition for the granting of the stay of execution, he stressed that the Nigerian government has already instructed its lawyers to seek the leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal against that payment.
The team set off to achieve three main objectives in the United Kingdom when the case was heard last week. The Minister said the objectives where all technically related.
One of the objectives was to change the narrative, especially on the international stage, more so in the run-up to the 26 Sept 2019 court hearing on the case.
Another one was to apply for leave of the commercial court to appeal the judgment that recognised the humongous and unprecedented arbitration award while the third objective was to seek a stay of execution on the UK judgment that recognised the approximately 9.6 billion-dollar arbitration award to P&ID over a botched, 20-year gas deal with Nigeria.
“We achieved all three objectives. First, we took London by storm, taking our case to international media outlets and Think Tanks and our message was simple:
”P&ID, a company without a physical address and no known investment anywhere in the world, set out to dupe Nigeria from day one, with the connivance of unpatriotic, corrupt and greedy Nigerians. The entire Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA), which P&ID entered into with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, is nothing but a fraudulent contraption with no chance, or expectation, of success,” the minister explained.
Mohammed stated that the Nigerian government has several reasons for tagging the entire process and the outfit as a fraud.
According to him, a contract of this magnitude cannot be valid until it has been vetted by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and taken to the Federal Executive Council for approval.
None of these was done. The sham contract was also signed in contravention of the Bureau of Public Procurement Act and the Infrastructural Regulatory Commission Procurement Act.
He however stated further that while the MoU for the project was signed in 2009 by P&ID Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian government (Ministry of Petroleum Resources), a ‘trick’ clause dubiously inserted in the MoU was curiously activated that allowed British Virgin Island (BVI)-registered P&ID to replace the original contractual party, P&ID Nigeria Limited, to sign the contract on January 11, 2010.
The Minister affirmed that there P&ID, incorporated in BVI, is a shell company that has no history of any business except the phantom GSPA in Nigeria, also there is no Board resolution approving the assignment of the contractual interest to P&ID BVI.
However, he said as part of the fraudulent activities, P&ID never kick-started the construction of the project facility, despite its claim to have invested $40 million in Nigeria. It also never acquired any land to build the gas processing plant.
“There is no proof of any financial commitment by P&ID toward the execution and implementation of its own obligation as stipulated in the 2010 agreement. Similarly, the Central Bank of Nigeria confirmed there is no trace of any funds brought into Nigeria by P&ID
”Two Directors of P&ID Nigeria have been convicted of charges of money laundering and economic sabotage. They are Mohammed Kuchazi, a Director of P&ID BVI, and Adamu Usman, a Director of P&ID Nigeria,” Mohammed said.
The ongoing investigation in Nigeria revealed that suspicious payments were made to Mrs. Grace Taiga, the then Legal Director in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Meanwhile, Mrs Taiga was supposed to ensure that the interest of the country was adequately protected.
“Of course, the payment, transferred in three tranches, could only have been made in appreciation of the ‘good deed’ done to P&ID by Mrs Taiga. Also, billions of Naira in suspicious cash transfers were made by P&ID. Investigations continue into these transfers,” the minister said.
According to the contract, the gas for the project was expected to come from OML 67 operated by ExxonMobil and OML 123 operated by Addax. But none of the two companies was even aware of the agreement.
Mohammed said it is absurd that for such a supposedly important project, there was no budgetary provision for the implementation of the GSPA in the budget of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010, and P&ID did not obtain the necessary licence to deal in petroleum products from the Department of Petroleum Resources as stipulated by extant laws. He stated that the firm neither filed tax returns nor paid VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as required by law.
“After telling our narrative in proper perspective, our message reverberated around the world, with over 150 articles published by major media outlets outside Nigeria within a week alone, according to the preliminary report on the top-tier international coverage, and went a long way in countering the distortion by P&ID and changing the narrative on the whole issue globally,” he stated.
Consequently, the judge also granted the Federal government a stay of any enforcement proceedings pending the determination of any appeal.
”He accepted the Nigerian Government’s 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 said.
The Minister confirmed that the Nigerian Government was pleased that the Judge fairly recognised the merits of its arguments and the true nature of P&ID and its strategy, and that he granted permission to appeal against his own decision and a stay, pending the appeal.
Against this backdrop, the Government looks forward to its day in court in the Court of Appeal, where it is confident that it would receive a fair hearing of its case and that the order permitting enforcement of the arbitral award will be set aside.
The Nigerian Government had sent a high-powered Government delegation to London last week to attend the hearing of the governments appeal against the $9.6 bn judgment.
The team comprises the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami; Minister of Information and Culture counterpart, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu; Assistant Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Lamorde and Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.