The Federal Government of Nigeria has vowed to probe the gas pipeline deal between the previous administration and an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), which triggered the decision of a United Kingdom court to ask the company to seize $9.6bn in Nigerian assets.
Concise News understands that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known on Tuesday in a meeting with newsmen in Abuja.
The Minister, who insisted that the judgment, which the government has described as dubious, would not stand the tests of morality and law, said the probe was an apt decision because of the government’s strong belief that the controversial contract was characterized by underhand dealings.
He said, “How can people come to Nigeria with a portfolio, and walk away with about 20 percent of our entire foreign reserve?
“We believe that, both in terms of morality and law, we are confident that we will upturn the judgment.
“It is important to know that the government has also ordered an investigation into the transactions because there are strong indications that underhand things went on.”
Concise News had earlier reported that P&ID had said it will continue its efforts to identify and seize Nigerian assets “to satisfy the debt” awarded to it by a United Kingdom court.
Recall that Justice Butcher of the UK Commercial Court gave a ruling that the Irish company can seize Nigeria’s assets worth $9 billion.
The company said if the Nigerian government was serious about negotiating a settlement, it must do so in “good faith” and stop the campaign of “baseless slander and sham investigations” against its founders.
The company, however, advised the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to “appoint an authorized party to enter into real negotiations” instead of what it called Nigeria’s “baseless slander and sham investigations against the P&ID and its founders.”
P&ID had gone on arbitration against Nigeria in 2012 following the failure of gas and supply processing agreement (GSPA) contract it signed with the ministry of petroleum resources in January 2010.
In May 2015, Nigeria agreed to pay $850 million in settlement to avoid a liability award but did not follow through.
In July 2015, the country was found liable by the arbitration tribunal for the failure of the project.
In January 2017, P&ID got an award of $6.6 billion for “loss of income” over the 20-year lifespan of the project and $2.3 billion in interests.
Nigeria’s efforts to stop the enforcement have failed so far, with a British court recently dismissing Nigeria’s objections, but the federal government has vowed to go on appeal, describing the project as a fraud and launching a probe of those said to be involved in the “scam”.
In the short statement, sent by e-mail to TheCable on Monday, a spokesman for P&ID said: “If the Nigerian government is serious about a willingness to negotiate then it must do so in good faith.
“The means that the Buhari Administration must acknowledge the reality of the rulings of the independent Tribunal and the English Commercial court, desist from its campaign of baseless slander and sham investigations against P&ID and its founders and instead appoint an authorized party to enter into real negotiations.
“The coming days will tell if the Nigerian government is serious, or if this is simply another delay tactic.
In the meantime, P&ID will continue its efforts to identify and seize Nigerian assets to satisfy the debt.”
Concise News understands that Nigeria’s foreign reserves, most of which are domiciled with US and UK banks, as well as oil tankers from the country, are at the risk of being seized by P&ID.
Buildings and other physical assets belonging to Nigeria abroad are also at risk.