A United Kingdom court on Thursday ordered the British Virgin Islands firm, Process and Industrial Development, to pay £1.5m to Nigeria within 21 days.
According a statement by Dr. Umar Gwandu, the spokesperson for the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, the UK court ordered P&ID to pay the money to Nigeria to cover the legal costs incurred by the Federal Government in successfully obtaining the court’s permission for an extension of time to challenge the $10bn arbitral award the company obtained against Nigeria.
The statement read, “The Federal Republic of Nigeria today (Thursday) appeared in the English High Court for a scheduled hearing.
“The hearing followed the major victory secured by Federal Republic of Nigeria last Friday (September 4), allowing it to bring a fraud challenge against a $10bnn arbitration award obtained by vulture-fund-backed P&ID well outside the normal time limits.
“FRN will now proceed to a full fraud trial. The hearing today was held to decide procedural and costs issues relating to the FRN’s applications to challenge the arbitration award, and to determine the short term directions to trial.
“Cranston J ordered P&ID to make an interim payment of more than £1.5 million within 21 days to cover legal costs the FRN incurred as part of their successful application for the extension of time to challenge the arbitration award and procedural hearing earlier in the year.
“A case management conference to determine the full trial window is scheduled to take place after November 2020.”
The statement also stated that the Thursday’s order by the British court “is another crucial win for Nigeria in our ongoing fight against the vulture-fund-backed P&ID.”
It added, “We are pleased that the English courts have taken our fraud challenge seriously, and awarded us a substantial interim payment in respect of our successful application for an extension of time to challenge the award.”
Justice Ross Cranston had in a landmark judgment, on September 4, granted the Federal Government permission to challenge the final arbitral award delivered by a London arbitration tribunal in favour of P&ID and against Nigeria in January 2017.
The judge in the judgement agreed that there was prima facie case of fraud in the agreements leading to the award which should be inquired into.
The award which stood at $9.6bn as of 2019 has risen to $10bn.
The tribunal had held Nigeria liable for the alleged breach of a Gas Supply Processing Agreement it entered into with P&ID in 2010.
But the Nigerian government had approached the UK court requesting an extension of time within which to challenge the final arbitral award on the basis that the GSPA and the award were tainted by fraud.