Mr Abubakar Malami: attorney -general and justice minister

Lawyers for the Nigerian government have filed “new and substantive” allegations of fraud with a British court, carrying on the fight against an arbitration award now worth close to $10 billion.

The government has been contesting efforts by British Virgin Islands-based Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) to enforce the award for a failed gas project and is also seeking to overturn the underlying award, the spokesman for Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Justice Minister and Attorney-general said.

The filing has been expected for months, as the window to appeal the award expired and proving fraud or corruption in the foundation of the contract is the only way to overturn it.

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Chris Rogers, a spokesman for P&ID in an email to P.M. News said: “Nigeria’s new filings with the English Court is an act of desperation to try to undo the Court’s sound conclusion that P&ID’s $10 billion award is enforceable.”

Nigeria has repeatedly said that an investigation by the country’s anti-graft unit, EFCC had uncovered proof of fraud.

“The challenge argues that the (contract) was procured on the basis of fraud and corruption, while the subsequent arbitral process was riddled with irregularities and deliberately concealed from the rest of the government,” Malami’s spokesman said.

The EFCC has already charged two Britons with money laundering in relation to the case, along with a former NNPC lawyer and two directors of the P&ID in Nigeria.

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The 2010 deal called for P&ID, which was set up solely for the project, to build a gas processing plant, and for the government to supply it with gas.

It collapsed without any construction taking place, though P&ID said it spent $40 million on a design and feasibility study. P&ID initiated arbitration in 2012, and in 2017, a UK tribunal awarded P&ID $6.6 billion, plus interest, based on what it could have earned over two decades.

The award is accruing more than $1 million in interest per day, and is now worth close to a quarter of Nigeria’s foreign reserves