Text of the press conference addressed by honorable minister of information and culture,Alhaji Lai Muhammed in Abuja,on Monday 26th of August 2019 on an English court rulings that P&ID can sieze $9.6 Billion in Nigerian assets over a botched contract.

by Adabanija Kamorudeen

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION
AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON MONDAY, 26 AUG. 2019 ON
AN ENGLISH COURT RULING THAT P&ID CAN SEIZE $9.6 BILLION IN NIGERIAN ASSETS
OVER A BOTCHED CONTRACT:

Good morning gentlemen of the press, and thank you for honouring our
invitation to this press conference, the first since I resumed duty
here at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture last week.

We have invited you here today to brief you on the recent
judgement of a UK Court authorizing Process and Industrial
Developments Ltd. (P&ID) to seize 9.6 billion dollars in Nigerian
assets, over a contract entered into by the company and the Ministry
of Petroleum Resources in 2010. We will quickly run you through the
issues at stake as well as what the Nigerian government is doing to
stave off any seizure of its assets. We do hope that by the time we
conclude this briefing, the media would have been better informed on
the whole issue, hence will be better placed to inform Nigerians and
clear the misrepresentations in certain circles.

BACKGROUND:
Gentlemen, the judgement that was delivered on Friday, 16
August 2019 is a fallout of the contract purportedly entered into in
2010 between the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID.
Please note that in the 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA)
purportedly entered into with the P&ID in 2010, the company never
performed as agreed.

With the contract having suffered a setback, the case went to
arbitration. P&ID’s claim in the arbitration proceedings was mainly
for the loss of profit for the 20-year term of the GSPA. In an interim
award, the Arbitration Tribunal ruled that Nigeria has breached the
contract.

Though Nigeria successfully applied to have that award set
aside by the Federal High Court in Lagos, the Tribunal ignored this
decision.

Consequently, on 31 January 2017, the Tribunal rendered its
final award against the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the sum of
6.597 Billion U.S. Dollars, together with pre-award interest at the
rate of 7% per annum, effective from 20 March 2013 and post-award
interest a the same rate from the date of the award. This interest
increased the size of the award to US$9.6 Billion.

WHAT NIGERIA DID AFTER THE ARBITRATION AWARD
After the arbitration award in 2017, Nigeria made several
attempts to negotiate the award and resolve the whole issue amicably
with P&ID but to no avail, which eventually led to the enforcement
proceedings instituted, simultaneously, by the company in the UK and
the US.

The Federal Government then engaged the services of the US law
firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, which took steps to
defend the proceedings in the US District Court of Columbia to dismiss
P&ID’s application for the enforcement of the award on the grounds
that Nigeria, as a sovereign state, has an absolute right to obtain an
authoritative determination of its sovereign immunity. While Nigeria
has recorded some successes in that case in the US, the proceedings
are currently on-going in the US and the Federal Government will
ensure that its interest and that of the people of Nigeria are
vigorously defended.

It is worth mentioning that in challenging the award, the
Federal Government relied upon an expert report analyzing the damages
given to the P&ID. The expert concluded that the damages:
– were clearly unreasonable and manifestly excessive and exorbitant;
– went far beyond any legitimate protection of the commercial
interest of the P&ID;
– were completely wrong and obviously unjustifiable;
– and that the damages overcompensated P&ID on a frankly gargantuan
scale and imposed a punitive award on Nigeria.

It was on this ground and others that the Federal Government

took all available steps to resist enforcement before the courts of
the United Kingdom (UK). Unfortunately, the UK Court has recognized
the award and given the company the authorization to seize Nigeria’s
assets.

THE CONTRACT
10. We want to place on record that the Federal Government views
with serious concerns the underhanded manner in which the contract was
negotiated and signed. Indications are that the whole process was
carried out by some vested interests in the past administration, which
apparently colluded with their local and international conspirators to
inflict grave economic injury on Nigeria and its people. In view of the above, and in an attempt to unravel the

circumstances surrounding the entire transaction, the Honourable
Attorney General of the Federation, with the approval of Mr President,
has requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the
National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Inspector General of Police
(IGP) to conduct a thorough investigation into the company, the
circumstances surrounding the agreement and the subsequent event,
which includes commencing a full-scale criminal investigation.

CONCLUSION
Gentlemen of the press, despite the recent recognition of the
award by a UK court, and contrary to some reports, Nigeria IS NOT
about to lose any of its assets to P&ID. There is no imminent threat
to Nigeria’s assets! In the first instance, the enforcement of the award cannot

even commence now because the Judge in the UK court ordered that the
P&ID cannot enforce the judgment against Nigeria until after the court
resumes from its current vacation.

What this means is that enforcement action cannot begin until
further hearing on the matter, which will take place on a date to be
determined by the court upon its resumption.

The Federal Government therefore wishes to use this
opportunity to assure Nigerians that there is no immediate threat to
Nigeria’s assets as has been wrongly interpreted by a section of the
media.

Nigerians should be assured that the Federal Government is
taking all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the UK Court, to
seek for a Stay of Execution of the decision, to defend its rights and
to protect the assets of the people of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria.

Nigerians should please be assured that the Federal Government
will strongly avail itself of all defences customarily afforded to
sovereign states under the United Kingdom Sovereign Immunity Act to
stave off any enforcement of the award.

Finally, we want to use this opportunity to appeal to the
sense of patriotism of our media in the reportage of this very
sensitive matter, which is capable of threatening the very existence
of the country, especially as some media outfits have clearly thrown
overboard objectivity and patriotism in their very biased reporting of
this matter.

Thank you, gentlemen, for your kind attention

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