What a week it has been. The Nigerian Government’s story seems to have changed with every hour and day that passes.
In less than a week, the Buhari Administration have stated that they are open to negotiations then backing away all while levelling increasingly bizarre allegations in every direction to then claiming they were meeting with P&ID representatives to backtracking all over again and saying they never met with P&ID at all.
Let’s step back and establish the facts.
Open to Negotiations or a Delay Tactic?
Last week, Lai Mohammed, Buhari’s Minister of Information and Culture indicated the government was willing to meet with P&ID to come up with a “reasonable” agreement. Mohammed stated, “They were even willing to sit down with the P&ID and negotiate. We are ready to take this matter to the highest level — legal, diplomatic and otherwise…”
But then – the Buhari Administration backtracked again, moving back to focusing on the sham investigation. AG Malami even stated they are attempting to seek the assistance of Interpol to track and arrest individuals who the Nigerian Government has decided to set up as scapegoats.
Later during the weekend, a false news media article claimed P&ID officials had been invited, accepted, and were attending a meeting in the Presidential Villa to discuss a settlement. The “fake news” story had to be embarrassingly refuted by the Nigerian Government after reports stated that P&ID was not actually in the meeting.
Fact Check: P&ID has not heard from anyone in government since the Commercial Court judgment was issued on 16 August 2019. The ball is in Nigeria’s court. If the Buhari Administration is ready to desist from its campaign of baseless slander and sham investigations against P&ID and its founders and come to the negotiating table, P&ID is ready for serious talks. In the meantime, P&ID will continue its efforts to identify and seize Nigerian assets to satisfy the debt.
Attorney General Malami
Following P&ID Facts’ heavily sourced “fact check” on AG Malami, the AG has once again dug his heels in an attempt to absolve himself and President Buhari of any blame or wrongdoing.
In recent reports, Attorney General Malami has stated, “[t]he records are there for any sane[sic] persons to see and judge if indeed Malami or indeed the Buhari government can be held responsible for an act that had been completed five years before we came into office” and that “[a]bove all, as far back as June 2017, I wrote series of letters to relevant security agencies in Nigeria to investigate the criminal conspiracy and economic sabotage occasioned by the GSPA contract.”
- In May 2015, prior to the award on liability, P&ID offered to settle for $850 million.
- In June 2015, the Buhari Administration took power, but did not take P&ID up on their offer.
- In July 2015, the Tribunal decided that the Nigerian Government was in breach of contract and would have to pay P&ID damages.
- In November 2015, AG Malami took office, and personally took over the conduct of the quantum phase of the arbitration.
- In July 2016, AG Malami’s legal team made submissions to the Tribunal at the final hearing to determine the quantum to be awarded to P&ID.
- In February 2017, the Tribunal handed down its Final Award in the sum of $6.597 billion plus interest – now over $9.6 billion.
At no time since AG Malami assumed responsibility has he raised any allegation of fraud or scam, either in the arbitration or in the subsequent enforcement proceedings. The reason for this is that there was no fraud, and there was no scam.
AG Malami and the Buhari Administration failed, on multiple accounts, to resolve the matter with P&ID and is now levying a sham investigation to attempt to spread blame elsewhere.
History of the Investigation
The announcement by AG Malami of an ‘investigation’ by the government’s EFCC agency is the latest in a long line of failed attempts to smear P&ID’s name.
- The EFCC reportedly launched an investigation way back in 2015. Interestingly, nothing from the 2015 EFCC ‘investigation’ was ever submitted in court by the Nigerian government or its legal team.
- AG Malami has reportedly stated that he himself had launched another investigation, this time in 2017. Interestingly, nothing from AG Malami’s 2017 investigation was ever submitted in court by the Nigerian government or its legal team.
- Now, we have the latest EFCC investigation, which lacks any reasoning or credibility given the previous reported investigations that have produced nothing in the way of evidence. However, this investigation is new, and different. It has been launched by politicians, as part of a political tactic with the goal to:
- Denigrate P&ID by hearsay (in place of hard evidence)
- Use the threat of investigation or arrest to coerce some leading Nigerians into publicly claiming versions of events that did not occur
So – this investigation is designed to find something, no matter how coerced or contrived.
The Denigration Tactic
The denigration of those unable to speak for themselves continues to be a tactic by the Buhari Administration to further avoid their responsibilities.
The latest accusation levied by President Buhari and his administration is the claim that the original Gas Supply & Processing Agreement (GSPA) was signed using Dr. Rilwanu Lukman’s forged signature.
Fact Check: This assertion of forgery could not be more egregious. Dr Lukman was involved at multiple stages of the contract preparation and execution and was fully aware of the P&ID project and the benefits it could bring to Nigeria.
The false news reports claim that Dr. Lukman would not have allowed the GSPA to move forward without review by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The idea that the ‘wrong Ministry’ or ‘wrong person’ approved the P&ID contract is an old, tired allegation that has already been considered and rejected in the legal proceedings. The authority of the Minister of Petroleum Resources to sign the GSPA was specifically challenged by Nigeria in the liability phase, and the Tribunal found in favour of P&ID (Paragraphs 41 – 54 of the Liability Award).
Claims of forgery are simply the latest desperate attempt to avoid responsibility.
As P&ID has stated before, the ball is in Nigeria’s court. If the Nigerian government is serious about a willingness to negotiate – they need to do so in good faith. Attempts to slander P&ID’s founders and levy a sham investigation to influence the court of public opinion have clearly shown the government’s lack commitment to a good faith negotiation.
Lastly, we mustn’t forget the entire reason for the P&ID contract in the first place. It was to take waste gas that was (and still is) being flared into the atmosphere – which is extremely detrimental to the environment and to public health – and process this into feedstock gas for the national grid at no cost to the Nigerian Government.
The P&ID project would have generated up to 2,000 megawatts of power. Such a major increase in the electricity supply brought by the P&ID project could have been transformative for millions of Nigerians. At present, the World Bank estimates that only 59% of the country have access to reliable supply of electricity. The failure of the government to supply the gas is a tragedy for all of those who could have benefitted from the project – and a tragedy for the environment.
All of this raises serious concerns for foreign investors in Nigeria, whether you are investing in a commercial enterprise or considering buying the next tranche of Eurobonds. Not only will Nigeria deliberately refuse to pay an international arbitration award backed by an English Court, but they are prepared to launch sham investigations and character assassinations in an attempt to bully investors into giving up their legal rights.