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$9.6b verdict: Senate summons AGF, others


senateThe Senate on Tuesday summoned the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to brief it on the details of the $9.6billion judgement awarded against Nigeria and the  2010 Gas contract to the Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited.

This followed a motion for a matter of urgent public importance moved by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, representing Ekiti Central District.

Also to appear before relevant committees of the Senate on the matter are officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and professional arbitrators engaged on behalf of the Federal Government.

In his lead debate, Senator Bamidele, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, stressed the need to invite the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, and other relevant stakeholders to brief relevant committees of the Senate on the award against the Federal Government by a United Kingdom Court.

He called on the Senate to note with concern that “Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora have become apprehensive while many committees of the Senate have over the last few weeks received several petitions and other direct and circumstantial information on the ongoing legal imbroglio involving the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and, by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the United Kingdom firm known as Process and Industrial Development Limited, herein after referred to as P&ID.”

He said the Senate should be aware that in January 2010, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, acting on behalf of the Federal Government  executed a Gas supply processing agreement with P&ID whereby Nigeria was to supply zero cost natural gas to P&ID through a pipeline to be constructed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to P&ID processing facility.

He said that under the terms of the TSPA, which had a tenor of 20 years, from the date of first supply of wet Gas, P&ID had an obligation to process the wet gas and deliver the derivative to the Federal Government free of charge for power generation while taking any other residual liquid itself at no cost.

He said that, based on the facts of the case, P&ID served a notice of arbitration on the Federal Government in 2012 on the ground that Nigeria repudiated its obligation under the terms of the TSPA by defaulting to make wet Gas available to it.

He said the Senate was also aware that a commercial court in the United Kingdom in the suit referred to has ruled that the Federal Government must pay the British firm – Process and Industrial Development Limited – a sum of $9.6 billion or have its assets to the tune of that amount forfeited.

He urged the Senate to be alarmed that the UK Court’s decision converted the subsequent arbitral award into a domestic judgement against Nigeria, thereby creating a situation where Nigeria’s asset around the world, particularly in the UK and the U.S. risk being taken over by P&ID or its agents.

He lamented that the damages awarded to P&ID were “manifestly excessive, exorbitant, punitive and a big threat to the economic well-being and security of Nigeria.”

He added: “The Senate is deeply concerned that the issues arising from the default aforesaid as well as the consequential arbitration, court proceedings and the ensuing award against Nigeria have thus far been concealed from the Senate and the entire National Assembly.”

He observed that the principal role of the National Assembly, is among others, “to undertake oversight of all government ministries, departments and agencies or amend subsisting laws of the Federation of Nigeria, for the proper functioning and good governance of the country which power is derived from the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.”

Senator Opeyemi prayed the Senate to invite the “Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation and other relevant stakeholders, including officials of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and professional arbitrators engaged on behalf of the Federal Government in this regard to comprehensively brief the Senate Committees on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream), Gas Resources and Power on the details of the 2010  contract with P&ID  as executed, reasons for the default as well as the handling of resultant negotiations, arbitration, court proceedings and steps being taken to resolve the matter in the overall best interest of the Nigerian economy and security of the nation’s assets at home and abroad.”

However, citing order 53 (5) of the Senate Standing Rules, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege cautioned his colleagues to limit their contributions on the motion which is to invite AGF and other relevant government agencies to brief the Senate as the matter is presently awaiting judicial decision.

The only prayer of the motion was unanimously approved when it was put to vote by the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan.

Lawan addd that the judgement $9.6billion awarded against Nigeria is one reason the country needs to strengthen its diplomatic engagements with other countries.

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