Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) Ltd has described Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s attorney-general, as “incompetent” in its closing submissions before the High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.
Nigeria is seeking to overturn a 2017 arbitration award of $6.6 billion plus interests in favour of P&ID over a failed gas supply and processing agreement (GSPA).
The country is alleging that the contract was secured through dishonest means that included bribery and perjury and that the arbitration award, which has now risen to $11 billion because of interests, should be quashed.
In its closing submissions last week at the eight-week trial, P&ID said Malami told Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo lies.
It accused Nigeria’s chief law officer of putting forward “a false and dishonest case”.
The company’s lawyers argued: “Apart from its desire to divorce its fraud allegations from their natural and proper context, FRN’s (Federal Republic of Nigeria’s) decision not to call any witnesses has also been motivated by a wish to ensure that its officials, and in particular Mr. Malami, should not be exposed to questioning which would show them in a negative light.
“Had Mr. Malami or any other representatives of FRN been prepared to attend Court to support the serious allegations they saw fit to make, P&ID would have been able to question them about a range of relevant matters including the following:
“The circumstances in which the GSPA came to be signed, including what the responsibilities of Ms. Taiga and Mr. Tijani were, and whether the process that was followed was any different from the process for concluding any other Nigerian contract, and in particular any of the other AGDP contracts which were concluded at around the same.
“FRN’s shockingly (for English lawyers) but typically (for the Nigerian government) inept handling of the arbitration, and in particular the reasons why it failed to mount the arguments which it now says would have won it the case, despite the urging of its internal and external advisers.
“The lies that Mr Malami told to the Vice-President, in the aftermath of the Quantum Award, in an attempt to absolve himself from blame.
“Mr Malami’s further attempt to cover up his own incompetence, following the judgment of Butcher J, by suddenly announcing that the GSPA was a fraud, even though on his own evidence as presented to Sir Ross Cranston he had no grounds for believing that there had been any fraud.
“FRN’s failure, over a period of several years, to carry out any investigation into the bribery allegations they eventually advanced in December 2019; and in particular Mr. Malami’s complete failure to act on the EFCC’s advice in 2016 to carry out a “detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding the award of the contract” to P&ID.
“The scurrilous allegations made by FRN against Butcher J, which have never been retracted.
“The shameful persecution of three of P&ID’s witnesses – all highly vulnerable individuals – in an attempt to generate false evidence to support FRN’s case (referred to at trial only in passing and facetiously: “poor Grace has been bashed up”).
“FRN’s especially depraved treatment of Mr. Kuchazi, in denying him access to cancer treatment and forcing him to stand trial, even though FRN’s own counsel submitted within minutes of his cross-examination starting that he was “obviously unwell” and incapable of understanding the process. The offences with which he is charged are ridiculously technical, do not involve any allegations of bribery or corruption or anything relating to P&ID, and are obviously trumped-up:
“Mr. Malami’s decision to put forward a false and dishonest case in his evidence before Sir Ross Cranston about the alleged corruption of Mr. Shasore, which has only been abandoned sub silentio in the course of this trial.
“Mr. Malami’s decision to put forward a false case (surely also dishonest, and also now quietly abandoned) to the effect that the GSPA was a sham, when the MPR plainly knew that to be untrue.”
The federal government, in its own closing submissions, accused the firm of suppressing vital evidence, bribery, and perjury, among others, to win the arbitration.
Mark Howard, Nigeria’s lawyer, told the court that P&ID obtained its contract “by telling repeated lies and paying bribes to officials”.
Howard said Michael Quinn and Brendan Cahill, founders of P&ID, had a “track record of bribery” and were involved in corruption on an “industrial scale”.
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