By Danladi Al-Hassan
Michael Quinn, the Founder of Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), a British engineering firm, that was recently awarded $8.9billion arbitral award against Nigeria by a UK court, on Saturday named key Nigerian government officials who played different roles in the process that led to the contract.
Quinn named two former presidents, late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, as well as the late Petroleum Minister, Rilwan Lukman, as privy to the contract.
Other top government officials he named in the negotiations for the contract include former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke; former Energy Minister, Olatunde Odusina; former Presidential Adviser on Petroleum, Emmanuel Egbogah; former Group Managing Director of NNPC, Shehu Ladan, as well as his counterparts between 2011 and 2012.
The then Manager (Gas) of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Labi Ajibade; the Managing Director, Addax Petroleum in 2010, Neil Hitchcock; then Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Goni Sheikh; the Director (Legal) of the Petroleum Ministry, Grace Taiga, and a representative of the ministry’s Head of Policy (Ibrahim).
Quinn also named the then Group General Manager/Special Technical Adviser to NNPC (General Executive Director, Power and Gas, NNPC), David Ige; representatives of the Department of Petroleum Resources, Ogwu Jones and Sunday Babalola; the then Technical Assistant to the Petroleum Minister, Taofiq Tijani; the then General Manager of Planning, Gas and Petroleum of NNPC, Uno Adeniji; then Manager, Gas and Petroleum, NNPC (Umar); the then Technical Adviser to the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Nuhu Tizhe; the then Assistant Legal Adviser to the Petroleum Minister, Belgore; Debo Spaine of Addax Petroleum, and Mohammed Kuchazi of P&ID.
However, Quinn said the mention of these officials does not imply any wrong-doing on their part.
He gave a full background to what transpired. He said he met with former President Umaru Yar’Adua, along with Lukman, and the then GMD of NNPC, Shehu Ladan, and 15 others over the Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA).
He said when former President Jonathan took over, P&ID wrote to the former Petroleum Minister, Mrs Alison-Madueke and a former Presidential Adviser on petroleum, Mr Egbogah, to intimate them on the status of the gas project.
Contrary to reports that the Jonathan administration was not in the know about the contract, Quinn said following the dispute over the gas project, the decision to go for arbitration was taken with full consent of Mrs Alison-Madueke.
He said P&ID wrote to Mrs Alison-Madueke on September 19, 2012, to inform her of the nomination of Anthony Evans as P&ID’s Arbitrator in the U.S tribunal.
On November 30, 2012, he said the Nigerian government wrote to inform P&ID of the appointment of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo as its arbitrator.
It is that three-member arbitration tribunal that first found Nigeria guilty of violating the terms of the contract.
In 2017, the tribunal awarded P&ID $6.6 billion as damages. But, the amount grew to the about $8.9billion with an additional $2.3 billion in accumulated interest at 7 per cent rate per annum following Nigerian government’s refusal to enter an appeal for over five years.
The United Kingdom, Business & Property Courts (the Commercial Court), presided by Justice Butcher, on August 20 granted a request for the enforcement of a March 20, 2013, award against Nigeria by a District Circuit Court in Washington DC.
The award in favour of P&ID followed an alleged breach of a 2010 gas contract agreement by the company and the Nigerian government.
Reacting to the judgment, the Nigerian government described the award as a conspiracy to cause economic damage to Nigeria.
Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the government has resolved to probe the contract with a view to bringing suspected collaborator and conspirators to account.
On Saturday, Malami denied reports he was responsible for the negligence that led to the award.
Malami who has served as Nigeria’s Attorney General since November 2015 on Saturday described as “irresponsible and mischievous” insinuations that either he or the Buhari administration is to be blamed for the increase.
“The records are there for any sane 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.
“The contract in question was a 2010 agreement signed five years before I came into office while the award by the United Kingdom court of Arbitration was in June 2014, one year before I was appointed Minister of Justice by President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
Malami was reacting to reports by the founder of P&ID, Michael Quinn, who blamed the present administration for the controversial award.
The Nation newspapers had quoted Quinn as saying the matter could have been resolved if the present administration did not jettison the out-of-court settlement deal struck by its predecessor.