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Malami speaks of lessons learnt from P&ID as Federal Government secures a landmark judgement in UK Court

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Abubakar Malami

FRI, SEPT 04 2020-theG&BJournal-The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,SAN has said that the Federal Government of Nigeria has learnt some lessons with the imbroglio that ensued relating to the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) contract.

Malami in a statement issued by his media aide Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, while presenting keynote address during the African Arbitration Day at the virtual International Conference, organized by British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), Babcock University and the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), said the whole saga associated with P&ID contract was a product of corruption, fraud and non-compliance with processes and procedures.

He noted that associated processes and procedures that were required from the agencies involved, associated approvals and permits, which were not obtained, Federal Executive Council approval was never sought for the contract and yet the contract was signed “without allowing these processes and procedures to be consummated.

“The greatest lesson that is apparent arising from this, is to put our house in order by way of ensuring that we have in place, standard operating procedures relating to each and every agreement that has the potential of affecting our national economy and national interest and ensure that the stated standard operating procedures are followed at the end of the day and ensure that there are consequences for corrupt practices relating to the officials of government that are saddled with the responsibility of processing agreements and ensuring at the end of the day that due processes and procedures are complied with”, he explained.

“It is the component of tightening our situation within the context of compliances to procedures and ensuring that there are consequences for wrong doings associated with officers that are found wanting or perhaps compromising along the line,” he continued.

He said the Federal Government was working towards making Nigeria an arbitral proceedings hub rather than working towards a direction of submitting to other jurisdictions as per as arbitration is concerned.

The Minister explained that the government was determined to see what can be done in terms of encouraging the choice of Nigeria as a seat of arbitration “so that what we are doing in terms of strengthening our arbitration and arbitral processes and proceeding are strengthen within the context of making us a hub of arbitration proceeding within the African continent”.

He disclosed that Nigeria has two arbitration centre’s, Abuja and Lagos, that are fully equipped and provide all the services required of an arbitration centre.

The Minister noted that Arbitration and Conciliation Act (ACA) 1988 Cap A18, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, is the National Law Governing Arbitration in Nigeria believing that Nigeria’s legal literature and jurisprudence as its relates to arbitration, has substantially developed.

Malami said Nigeria has elaborate rules on arbitration as an alternative to litigation, adding that Nigeria’s arbitral rules are consistent with the prevailing best practice situation in Africa and the world.

He also said Nigeria’s economic power in Africa makes it imperative for the country to keep resolving investment disputes through arbitration in order to make Nigeria an investment hub of the continent.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has secured an extension of time and relief from sanctions in The Royal Courts of Justice, London, United Kingdom, in its bid to overturn a turn $10 billion judgement awarded against it on January 31, 2017.

The judgement given then in favour of P&ID had required the Federal Government to pay P&ID $6.6 billion as damages, as well as pre and post judgement interest at 7%.

The new judgement was handed down remotely today by Sir Ross Cranston sitting as a Judge of the High Court, and reading the lengthy judgment declared ‘’I have held that Nigeria has established a strong prima facie case of fraud, which P&ID has prima facie covered up.’’ He said, ‘’it seems to me that, where a party has a strong prima facie case of fraud, there can be no prejudice to the respondent in being subject to a full inquiry into the fraud at trial…an award that is liable to be set aside as having been procured by fraud is, in legal terms, worthless.’’

Cranston said, ‘’Nigeria has to my mind, a strong prima facie case in fraud in its serious irregularity challenge.’’

He argued that Nigeria has ‘’acted reasonably’’ since seeking the extension of time and relief is not in his view, the result of a deliberate decision made because of some perceived advantage, ‘’and in all the circumstances Nigeria has acted reasonably.’’

He continued: ‘’Given the strong prima facie case of fraud which I have concluded Nigeria has established, the position is along the lines of that identified in Terna, where Popplewell J identified the substantial injustice an applicant would suffer in respect of the underlying dispute if deprived of the opportunity of making a challenge should an extension of time be refused.’’

‘’For this reasons given, I grant Nigeria’s applications for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.’’

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