ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman Ibrahim Magu has revealed that the federal government wants the judge who asked Nigeria to pay a $9.6bn fine to Irish-registered firm Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) probed.
Under the terms of a contract signed on January 11, 2010 Nigeria entered into an agreement to supply P&ID 400 MMScuFD of wet gas for a period of 20 years. However, Nigerian failed to deliver on its side of the bargain and on August 22, 2012, the British firm filed for arbitration, writing to the federal government on March 20, 2013, accusing it of repudiating the contract it entered into.
P&ID took the matter before an international arbitration panel earlier this year and Nigeria was found culpable and asked to pay a fine of $9.6bn. P&ID can seize Nigerian assets worldwide to cover the costs but the federal government has appealed the decision and a senior civil servant, Grace Taiga has been remanded in prison by a Federal Capital Territory high court over her role in the scandal.
Earlier this week, the federal government won a reprieve, after securing a court order allowing it to appeal the judgement if it paid a $200m deposit within 60 days. However, the federal government wants Justice Christopher Butcher of the London Commercial Court who heard the dispute probed because he was so desperate to enforce the arbitral award.
Two other members of the Nigerian legal delegation to London, information minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele, added that the original contract was aimed at defrauding Nigeria. Mr Magu, who expressed a loss of confidence in the British commercial court, said Nigeria would take the matter up at the diplomatic level.
He added: “The entire transaction is predicated on fraud, complete fraud and irregularities by people trying to exploit the weakness in the system to their advantage. I am also worried that the commercial court that gave the judgment here on the award is so desperate on the enforcement of the judgment itself.
“That shows clearly that we do not have confidence in the commercial court because they seem to have interest in making sure they enforce it, otherwise they should give us a chance to come in with our complaint. P&ID does not even exist in Nigeria, it is a shell company and as far as I am concerned, the directors we have committed so far are the witnesses to the agreement and also to the memorandum of understanding (MoU).
“The main actors who actually signed the MoU and the agreement incidentally are all dead, including Michael Quinn and Rilwanu Lukman. We will appeal to the appropriate authorities to also investigate the conduct of the judges that actually passed the award because this is the worst in the world.
“There has never been an arbitration award at this level that is so high, nowhere in the world. Do you know how it can aggravate the refugee situation in Nigeria? Do you know how it would affect our GDP? Do you know it would affect the economy?”
Alhaji Mohammed said the original contract under which Nigeria was to supply wet gas to a plant P&ID was to build in Cross River State for the generation of electricity, was enmeshed in corruption and irregularities, adding that all those involved in it were being investigated. He, however, said the federal government had not foreclosed any option in resolving the issue, including an out-of-court settlement.