Former President, Muhammadu Buhari has celebrated Nigeria’s victory in a London court in a case against the international firm, Process & Industrial Development Limited.
Buhari opined that Nigeria paying the fine would have been a huge loss to the country.
Buhari said in a series of tweets shared via his profile on X (formerly Twitter): “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 $15 bn.
“But ordinary Nigerians never took the decisions that ended up before Justice Knowles. Had Nigeria lost, it would have required schools not to be built, nurses not to be trained and roads not to be repaired, on an epic scale, to pay a handful of contractors, lawyers and their allies – for a project that never broke ground.”
Nigeria was dragged into the legal mess owing to a 2010 agreement between P$ID and the Federal Government, for which the firm pledged to build a gas processing plant in Nigeria.
However, the project never came into fruition with P&ID suing for lost profits. The firm was granted the sizable award plus accumulated interest, which became a point of contention.
“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.
“The previous government could not supply the gas. The plant was never built. Construction was not started. P&ID did not even buy the land for the facility. But the contract, incredibly, was clear: P&ID could sue Nigeria, and claim all the profits it might have made over 20 years as if everything had been completed.”
“Nigeria was in court in London, trying to talk down liability and costs. Back at home, fixers were looking to work out a quiet settlement. This is often the way. A lot of contracts end up in dispute. P&ID won a settlement in 2017 of USD6 billion, with compound interest. People, including out-of-work ex-British Cabinet Minister Priti Patel, were queuing up to insist we paid, or risk Nigeria becoming an untrustworthy trade pariah.
“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”, he further revealed.