Former President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the recent victory of Nigeria in the $ 11 billion Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) arbitration award dispute describing it as an “attempted heist of historic proportions” against the country as it was an attempt to steal “one-third of the nation’s foreign reserves.”
In an article released on Sunday titled, ‘A Matter of Principle,’ Buhari expressed his relief at the judgment delivered by Justice Robin Knowles of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales, who upheld Nigeria’s appeal that the award was obtained through fraud.
- The former president emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “This was an attempted heist of historic proportions, an attempt to steal from the treasury a third of Nigeria’s foreign reserves”.
Nairemetrics reported a Business and Property Court in London last week halted the enforcement of the $11 billion arbitration award in favour of P&ID against Nigeria in a case marked CL-2019-000752.
In a verdict issued by Justice Robert Knowles, it was determined that the method by which P&ID acquired a 2010 contract for the construction of a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State, involved fraudulent actions and bribery.
Reacting, Buhari said:
- “Rarely in modern times can so few have tried to take so much from so many. If Nigeria had lost its arbitration dispute with Process & Industrial Development in a London court on 23 October, it would have cost our people close to USD 15 billion.
- “We won, and all decent people can sleep easier as a result. Justice Robin Knowles said Nigeria had been the victim of a monstrous fraud. But it was a close-run thing.
- “Had Nigeria lost, it would have required schools not to be built, nurses not to be trained and roads not to be repaired, on an epic scale, to pay a handful of contractors, lawyers and their allies – for a project that never broke ground.
- “The ‘P&ID Affair’ was already firmly set by the time I came into office in 2015. A company registered in the British Virgin Islands that no one had heard of, with hardly any staff or assets, had won a contract to build a gas processing plant in Cross Rivers. The company was owned by Irish intermediaries who knew Nigeria well and had done business in everything from healthcare to fixing tanks.”
Recounting the experience of how he tasked the former Chief-of-Staff, Abba Kyari, and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to find a way out of the issue, Buhari said that he knew the country needed a huge amount of evidence in order to get a fair hearing.
- “It was clear that far from the whole story had been told. I tasked Abba Kyari, my chief-of-staff and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, with finding a way, even at that late stage and despite so much conflicting advice, to get us a fair hearing.
- “Working with a number of different agencies and senior officials of government, we began to find a huge amount of evidence, not all of which Justice Knowles was to accept. But he agreed that P&ID had paid bribes. He agreed that one of P&ID’s founders had committed perjury. And he agreed that P&ID had somehow found in its possession a steady supply of Nigeria’s privileged internal legal documents, outlining our plans, strategies and problems.
- “My own view is that this whole, sorry affair shows how important it is to follow the legal process in resolving a dispute. It shows that given time and opportunity for each side to present their case, the temple of justice can satisfactorily resolve all disputes without resorting to extrajudicial measures. It was definitely worth the struggle: this was an attempted heist of historic proportions, an attempt to steal from the treasury a third of Nigeria’s foreign reserves,” the former president noted.
Earlier, TheTimes reported that the Business and Property Court in London ruled in favour of Nigeria in a $11 billion suit between the federal government of Nigeria and Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) Ltd.
The judgment was delivered by Judge Robin Knowles.
In 2010, Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) secured a 20-year contract to build and operate a gas processing facility in the southern region of Nigeria.
P&ID entered into the agreement with Nigeria to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River state, but the company said the deal collapsed because the Nigerian government did not fulfil its end of the bargain.
The federal government, on their part, contended that the project’s initiation was marred by a widespread bribery scheme.