DEMONSTRATORS have protested outside Britain’s high commission in Abuja expressing their displeasure at a recent high court judgement in London that authorised London firm Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) to seize Nigerian assets worth $9.6bn.
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. While the company would make available 85% of the lean gas proceeds from the process, it was to be compensated by being offered by-products such as butane and sell on the international market.
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. The contract that has simply become known as the GSPA is the Gas Supply Processing Agreement, under which P&ID was to process the wet gas into lean gas suitable for firing gas-powered electricity generation plants.
Nigeria alleged that the agreement was on various grounds invalid or subsequently frustrated, varied or discharged by force majeure. However, P&ID challenged this and a panel of arbitration ruled that Nigeria was liable for the failure of the contract and should pay the British firm a sum of $6.597bn as the profit that the company would have made in the 20 years tenure of the contract.
In addition, the panel also ruled that the company should be paid 7% interest until the award was settled. This is what has snowballed into $9.6bn judgment debt as the firm had recently sought and secured from a British high court the conversion of the arbitration decision into a legal judgment.
With P&ID now authorised to seize Nigerian assets anywhere on the world, a coalition of civil society groups decided to hold a protest in Abuja against the judgement. According to the protesters, they would continue the protest for the next one week until the judgement is reversed.
The inscriptions in some of the placards read: “$9.6bn judgement is a fraud, No to the illegal takeover of our national assets, Nigeria rejects fraudulent judgment from British judge, Nigeria and Britain are friends, not enemies, Boris Johnson help President Muhammadu Buhari fight corruption. Both local and international conspirators behind the P&ID fraud must be punished and We say no to second slavery, this judgment cannot stand.”
Government officials claim, however, that a factsheet reveals that President Muhammadu Buhari and vice president Yemi Osinbajo separately approved negotiations with P&ID after the arbitration tribunal awarded $6.597bn to the company. They were said to have offered $250m and an improved offer of $600m to the company.
Also, President Buhari directed the federal government’s team to meet with P&ID counsel on July 12 and 13 in New York. However, P&ID rejected the offer on the grounds that what was agreed on to be executed was a Draft Stay of Enforcement Agreement and not a settlement agreement as proposed by the federal government.