Posted by Ronald Mutum | 16 September 2019 | 486 times
The Federal Government says it is left with the option of negotiating with Process and Industrial Developments Ltd over the 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement entered into in 2010 for which a United Kingdom court recently ordered the company to seize $9.6bn in Nigerian assets, because the timeline to appeal the judgment, first delivered in 2014, had elapsed. The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, told journalists in Abuja yesterday that the Peoples Democratic Party-led administration which entered into the contract agreement, signed and executed in 2010, failed to appeal the verdict.
Malami said there was no limitation regarding those that could be invited for interrogation, vowing that all those involved in the drafting and signing of the agreement as well as other “personalities of interest” would be probed.
He there was already an award of about $6.9bn verdict against Nigeria before President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015 and the time which the present administration would appealed had already elapsed because the previous administration had not appealed against the judgement “when it was made in June 2014.”
“So, with the lapsing of time to appeal, you could not have filed an application to either set aside the award or to stay execution; you require the leave of the tribunal to appeal an award. That leave would have been very difficult because Nigeria, as at then, had been judged and had slept over its right to appeal. “The only option open was to consider the possibility of negotiating. That was what informed our decision to consider the possibility of negotiation. Along the line of negotiations, many facts came to light, inclusive of the fact that gave rise to insinuations of fraudulent under-hands among the parties involved. “Fraud could be a ground for setting aside the award without necessarily seeking for leave. So, if we can establish fraud, there is no time limit within which we can raise it as against appealing the decisions of the tribunal on the bases of law or facts. He said the previous administration and the lawyers it hired should be blamed for the court case instituted on the matter in a Nigerian court which was struck for lack of diligent prosecution. “As at 2015, there was a contract in existence having been executed. There was an award in existence having been made in June 2014. There were lawyers engaged by parties, P & ID and the previous government. Yes there was a purported contract, there was a purported award and parties were in court before the tribunal. “But one thing that is important to state is that while the arbitral proceedings were on in the UK, there was an attempt by the lawyers that were engaged by the previous government to file a fresh action in Nigeria to set aside the award after it was made. “The lawyers that were engaged were engaged by the government that preceded the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration. The lawyers who conducted that case were inherited by President Muhammadu Buhari. There was an action in court, an action before the arbitrary tribunal in UK, an action before a federal high court in Nigeria conducted by the lawyers that were engaged by the previous administration.” Malami assured that the Nigerian Government would not sell out the interest of the country and the Nigerian people in order to satisfy some elements “who are consciously” out to extort the Nigerian people for their selfish aggrandisement. He said while the government was willing and ready to negotiate and meet the terms of agreements reached with all genuine investors that had done business or were still doing business with Nigeria on mutually beneficial terms, it would not allow fraudulent local and foreign collaborators to rip off the resources of Nigeria for no just cause in order to be seen as being nice or investor-friendly. (Daily Trust)
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