The failure of Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to successfully negotiate an arbitral award with Process and Industrial Developments Ltd, has placed Nigeria at the receiving end of losing up to 20 per cent of the country’s foreign reserve, a monetary sum of over $9bn.
A 2010 contractual agreement between Nigeria and P&ID to build a natural gas-processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State, broke down irretrievably and the London Commercial Court, converting an arbitration decision to judgment, found Nigeria guilty of breach of contract.
Nigeria, in a frantic move to wriggle out of the judgment debt, filed a successful lawsuit at its own Federal High Court, which set aside the judgment of the UK court.
P&ID did not partake at the proceedings, which happened at the Lagos Federal High Court, alleging that the court lacked jurisdiction on the case.
The company’s argument seems meritorious because as far back as 2016, parties agreed on UK as the venue for the arbitration which eventually took place in 2017, even though Nigerian arbitration laws were to apply.
Nigeria had a 28-day ultimate to separately appeal both decisions of the arbitration venue and the arbitral award but it delayed several months before it appealed the decision on the venue and the appeal was dismissed.
In a letter written to the law firm of Bolaji Ayorinde dated 27 April, 2017 and cited by SaharaReporters, Malami said he received the approval of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to negotiate the arbitral award with P&ID.
The letter reads in part, “Please be informed that the Vice President of Nigeria has approved that the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources and your humble self should immediately proceed to negotiate with P&ID with respect to how the award can be reviewed in favour of Federal Government.”
Malami’s negotiation with P&ID did not make any headway and Nigeria now stands the risk of potentially losing a fortune due to the failed negotiation.
Although a dissenting arbitrator limited damages to $250m, the arbitral panel awarded over $6.597bn damages in favour of P&ID.
But owing to protracted legal tussles spearheaded by the AGF, damages accruable against Nigeria has now risen to over $9bn, representing 20 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
The AGF has been at the centre of many scandals lately.
SaharaReporters once published a viral video of how local and hard currencies were doled out at the wedding ceremony of the AGF’s son at Kebbi where six private jets were chartered to convey guests to the venue.
Dr Junaid Mohammed, a Nigerian lawmaker of the second republic, has described the AGF as lacking in credibility.
A group of concerned citizens from Kebbi State from where the AGF hails, have also asked Malami to clear himself from allegations of corruption and save Kebbi State from national embarrassment.
Also, the AGF in collaboration with Tukur Burutai, Chief of Army Staff, have flagrantly disobeyed a Federal High Court order mandating that a detained soldier, Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini, be granted access to his lawyer and family.
Malami has also been accused of using his position to frustrate several high-profile corruption cases in Nigeria.