Buhari govt. finds silver bullet to shoot down $9.6b P&ID claim

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Muhammadu Buhari: His government may have found a silver bullet against P&ID’s $9.6b claim

The Buhari administration may have found a silver bullet to shoot down the $9.6billion world record claim against Nigeria’s assets by Irish company Process and Industrial Development(P&ID).

According to reports, the rock-solid defence is contained in a UK law, that gives immunity to Sovereign states. Going by the law, P&ID should not even have dragged Nigeria to any arbitration or a commercial court, to try to milk Nigeria of hard-earned revenue.

But first of all, Nigeria intends to file a stay-of-execution of the judgment at the end of the month when the UK courts resume and has opted not to negotiate any deal with P&ID.

Thereafter, the government will file an appeal based on the extant law of the United Kingdom.

UK’s State Immunity Act 1978 (the Act) bars UK courts from confiscating assets of a foreign state without the consent of that state, gives it a leeway in the matter.

In an illuminating article on the law published in March this year, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP (the largest law firm in the world devoted solely to business litigation and arbitration, said the Act allows a written consent of a foreign state before the enforcement of a judgment which could lead to seizure of assets or freezing of accounts.

The article was titled “Sovereign Immunity in the United Kingdom—Lexology”

The law firm wrote: “Section 13(2) of the Act provides that:(a) relief shall not be given against a State by way of injunction or order for specific performance or for the recovery of land or other property; and (b) the property of a State shall not be subject to any process for the enforcement of a judgment or arbitration award or, in an action in rem, for its arrest, detention or sale.

“Pursuant to section 13 of the Act, state assets ‘shall not be subject to any process for the enforcement of a judgment or arbitration award or, in an action in rem, for [their] arrest, detention or sale’ unless the state has provided its written consent (see, for example, Gold Reserve Inc v Venezuela [2016] EWHC 153 (Comm), finding that Venezuela had submitted to arbitration in writing by entering into a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with Canada) or the assets in question are ‘in use or intended for use for commercial purposes’ (section 13(2)-(4)). These provisions apply in respect to states alone as defined in section 14 of the Act, and do not therefore extend to separate entities (see question 8).

“This provision is subject to sections 13(3) and 13(4) of the Act. Pursuant to section 13(3), a state may provide written consent to the grant of any relief against it. It follows that a state may consent to the grant of interim or injunctive relief against it; however, the mere submission to the jurisdiction of the UK courts does not constitute such consent.”

According to The Nation, the decision by Nigeria to anchor its defence on this law, was taken at a meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja this week.

It was attended by Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of Information Lai Mohammed; and Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Sylva.

Others are Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs Festus Keyamo (SAN); Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mele Kyari; Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu; and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele.

The Federal Government’s team, made up of many lawyers, met with an American lawyer alongside Mr. Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), who has been central to the handling of the case with P&ID.

View Comments (10)

  • I am so confounded and ashamed. With this lack of an analytical bent on the part of some people, I have obviously been wasting my time. I hereby sign off. No point adding an extra word. If it will make some people happy, then I throw in "Sai Buhari!"

  • Anybody that was involved in this unpatriotic action should be punished irrespective of tribe, creed or faith. I am not here to join issues with ignorant nincompoops who would blame Ndigbo even when they have bedroom altercation with their wives. They lack knowledge of history. When last did an Igboman hold the office President, Vice President or Minister of Justice?

  • Pls, the youths & the old ones, this is the right time to contribute immensely to the progress of this nation not to start trading words on air. Pls, tell me in all the ethnic groups we have, everyone has one complaint or the other. Let's team up, view it in a right direction free of ethnic bias. God bless us,bless our nation ! Amen

  • We've started gloating and trading blames. Another one is on the way. Starting with an advert on TV last Tuesday for a conference in Dublin to raise 1 TRILLION DOLLARS investment for Nigeria. Invited State Governors, Public Officials, Entrepreneurs. Fees 1.5 million Naira. If true could only lead to sovereign debt, or at best jamboree for complex scamming. Think about it ONETRILLION DOLLARS

  • Who is that wizkid who as this P&ID palaver is being wrapped up suddenly discovers this ancient UK Law that practically places a rogue nation, Nigeria, above all demands of legality. We should go ahead and knight him or her. Unfortunately we don't have such honours here. Hence an MON or something more sonorous should be appropriate.

    # Now what should we do with Prof Yemi Osinbajo and the rest of our somloscent legal team, if we can even call them one? All reports on this case, especially the one by Forbes Magazine, backed up by many including Reuben Abati, point to the recklessness of non-diligence in Nigeria's defence. If the UK court were to add up small fines for our serial abuse of court processes, if would easily add up to the disputed $8.9b. The Nigerian legal team should be lined up and shot for exposing us to such ridicule and heartache. Oh, for a Jerry Rawlings!

  • Chaiiiiiiiiiiiiiii this one hurt wailers real bad, Sai Buhari, no shi shi will go to those criminals, imagine Jonathan administration had negotiated to pay $850Million and I ask for what? and people are busy insulting or president for making a patriotic and right decision.

    • My brother, only wailers and the Easterners who never saw anything good in Buhari abused him for taking a good decision not to pay money for the Nigerian crooks to go and share with PID Ltd. The crooks will be crying now, as no shishi will go to them couple with the fact that they will all be jailed for such an economic sabotage

      • Adeola, you obviously lack wisdom and civility.
        You are behind history.
        You are ignorant.
        Only a trained fool responds to a topic as serious as this this way.

        My questions to you:
        1. How dare you accuse Easterners of wailing?
        2. The other guy pushes blame to Jonathan; how?
        3. The purported Award was done, sealed, authenticated by Late Dr. Rilwan (As Petroleum Minister under Yar'Dua).
        4. Was Late Dr. Rilwan who foolishly and stupidly signed this contract with P&ID without recourse to the then Attorney-General an Igboman or Huasa?
        5. Don't you think he (Dr Rilwan) acted what an average Yoruba person would have done? in Such circumstance?
        6. Who actually deserves punishment for this deed?
        Dr. Rilwan who took such a decision unilaterally without getting the then President's consent in writing; without seeking for AGF's inputs or approval; VICE Preisdent's (GEJ) opinion or PMB.

        You are daft biko.
        Repent before the blood of Igbos will doom you for life.