NIGERIA may have been thrown a lifeline in the ongoing legal battle with British firm Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) after a London high court ruled that the federal government could challenge the decision if it paid $200m within 60 days.
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.
Today, a British court granted Nigeria a reprieve, granting a stay of execution of the arbitral award on the condition that the $200m is deposited within two months. Nigeria had asked for permission to appeal against the enforcement of the judgement which has been granted.
Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation and Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, led a delegation of senior government officials to the UK to seek a legal solution to the matter. They appear to have won the first round of the legal battle, which if lost, could cost Nigeria her entire foreign reserves.
Despite exposing the suspects in the case, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Ibrahim Magu, may not withstand the renewed plots to have him removed from office. Apparently, the principal actors in the illegal deal who were in the previous administration and their sympathisers in the present administration are very upset with Mr Magu for exposing the fraudsters and activities behind the deal, which has the potential to deprive them of sharing the huge booty.
Those pushing for Mr Magu’s removal are latching on the fact that he is overdue for the mandatory leadership training at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) and must unfailingly proceed on the course. Besides, Mr Magu’s opponents have also argued that under the new law passed by the last National Assembly, he is not qualified to remain as the substantive EFCC chairman, having not reached the prescribed post of assistant inspector-general of police.
He is currently a commissioner of police and his detractors, who have allegedly pencilled down two senior northern police officers to replace Mr Magu, say he should no longer be represented for confirmation for the third time after two failed attempts based on what they call adverse security reports. Unlike the previous attempts to remove and send him to NIPSS, which failed largely due to the intervention of vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who has often presented him to President Muhammadu Buhari, as an incorruptible public officer, the plotters have now successfully precipitated a seeming row in the presidency, by claiming that Mr Magu is planning to probe Professor Osinbajo over the National Social Investment Programme.
Magu’s men might have innocently played into the hands of his enemies when one of his staff spoke in Kaduna at an event and made reference to the fact that there was corruption in some national programmes and that the agency would ensure that it is stamped out. However, while the EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren, who represented his boss at the event, did not specifically made reference to Professor Osinbajo, the enemies have already drawn the vice president’s attention to the speech.