Nigeria Risks Losing $9bn Over Failed Contract

Nigeria risks losing assets worth $8.9 billion in Britain and America as a UK firm fighting a lengthy court case against it begins moves to seize its assets.

Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) wants Nigeria to pay $8.9 billion damages awarded to it by an arbitration tribunal in London.

The UK engineering and natural gas firm is reportedly lobbying Britain and America to persuade Nigeria to pay the money or to enable the company to seize Nigerian assets.

But Nigeria is vigorously countering the moves, fighting the case in US and UK courts. A staff of the law firmCurtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, with offices in the United States and Britain, told Daily Trust on Sunday in London that they are representing Nigeria in the case.

The lawyers had argued in court that enforcement of the award against Nigeria would violate the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

But P&ID argues that Nigeria forfeited its rights to immunity when it struck an agreement with the company. It says it will pursue enforcement of the award.

The case, which has been fought in various courts in the two countries and in Nigeria since 2012, followed a dispute between Nigeria and the British Virgin Islands-registered firm over a failed gas project.

The firm, co-founded by a former Irish band-show manager, accuses Nigeria of breaching a contract it entered with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010 to build a gas processing facility in the Niger Delta.

The deal was struck during late Umaru Yar’adua’s administration as part of the government’s plan to develop Nigeria’s energy infrastructure to enhance electricity supply.

But the deal collapsed during Goodluck Jonathan’s regime and the firm sued.

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However, Jonathan’s government, towards its tail end, reached an out-of-court settlement to pay the firm $850 million.

The matter was passed on to the then-incoming government of Muhammadu Buhari.

But, according to a report by Premium Times, Buhari’s government reneged on that agreement.

The firm returned to court and won. It was awarded $6.59 billion and subsequent favourable judgement saw the amount rising to $8.9 billion, including accumulated interest.

In February, solicitor general Dayo Apata assured Nigerians that the government would “vigorously” defend its interests.

He said Nigeria would take necessary legal measures to resist the enforcement of the award.

But as the legal battle continues, a hedge fund, managed by VR Capital Group, buys a large stake in the UK firm strengthening its power.

Media reports say the company has hired lawyers and lobbyists in the United States and Britain to pursue its case.

P&ID was formed in 2006 by two Irishmen, Brendan Cahill and Michael Quinn. Mr Cahill had earlier issued a statement saying that the firm, supported by its investors, would work to ensure the enforcement of the award.

Source: Daily Trust

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