Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales, has quashed the $11bn award previously made against Nigeria in favour of the Process and Industrial Developments Company, (P&ID).
In the case marked CL-2019-000752, alfiled in a Business and Property court in London, the Federal Government had sought to overturn $6.6bn arbitration award in favour of P&ID in 2017.
The award had continued to accrue interest since then which has now brought the current total before yesterday’s judgment to approximately $11 billion.
In the same ruling, the court declared that it did not find any merit in the charges of bribery levelled against Mr. Olasupo Shasore (SAN), a former Attorney-General of Lagos State, who was representing Nigeria in the arbitration.
Shasore was accused of obstructing Nigeria’s legal proceedings against the British Virgin Islands-based company.
Consequently, Shasore faced allegations of negligence and inadequate due diligence in handling the case, with claims that he had inadequately defended Nigeria’s interests.
In his defense, Shasore maintained that he had done everything within his power to secure the best outcome for the country.
It is worth noting that the same government that accused him of not serving the national interest awarded him another arbitration contract on July 12, 2019.
Justice Knowles, in his verdict, stated, “As far as I am aware, Mr. Shasore SAN has not, in my judgment, been shown to be corrupt. His actions are inconsistent with Nigeria’s theory that he was.”
“I add that in my view, Nigeria (and specifically Mr Malami SAN, the Attorney General)
did not in truth believe Mr Shasore SAN was corrupt.
‘On 21 November 2017, Mr Shasore SAN, was engaged by Nigeria to represent the Ministry of Power in a $2.4bn
arbitration claim by Sunrise Power and Transmission Co.
“His appointment was approved by Mr Malami SAN on 6 March 2018, and formally confirmed by Mr Malami
SAN, on 18 March 2018,” he said.
The judge cited several reasons for his decision, highlighting Mr. Shasore’s sound advice to Nigeria to investigate and obtain expert evidence, his assistance in succeeding in Nigerian court applications, his contribution to reducing settlement figures, and his vigorous challenges against P&ID during the liability hearing.
Recall that the dispute dates back to 2010, when P&ID Limited entered into a gas supply and processing agreement with Nigeria, with plans to establish an Accelerated Gas Development project in Cross River State.
The project never materialized, and P&ID subsequently accused Nigeria of breaching the contract terms.
P&ID claimed Nigeria violated terms of its agreement by failing to provide gas for the power plant it wants to build for the country.
In 2015, P&ID won a judgment for a $10 billion compensation.
This frustrated the construction of the Gas Project agreed to during the government of former president Umaru Yar’Adua and deprived P&ID the potential benefits expected from 20 years’ worth of gas supplies with “anticipated profits of $5 to $6 billion.”
The arbitral tribunal unanimously decided that the Federal Government had repudiated the GSPA by failure to perform its obligations under the GSPA and awarded P&ID was entitled to $6.6 billion in 2017.
That fine along with interest has now risen to $11.5billion.
It was reported that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government had reached an out-of-tribunal agreement for the payment of $850 million and passed on disbursement to the administration of President Buhari.
But Buhari refused to pay the negotiated sum, set aside the settlement agreement and challenge the enforcement of the award before the English Commercial Court.
However, the London court added $2.4 billion in interest making it $9bn.
But, yesterday, Judge Knowles ruled that the award was obtained by fraud and what has happened in the case is contrary to public policy.