Mr. Justice Butcher of a United Kingdom Commercial Court on Thursday granted leave to Nigeria to appeal against its August 2019 decision granting an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Designs, the right to enforce a judgment debt of $9.6 billion arising Ng from a failed contract for the use of ‘wet gas’ to generate electricity.
The judge, who delivered the ruling after hearing an application from the nation’s lawyer for the stay of execution of the judgment, ordered Nigeria to deposit $200 million within 60 days.
According to Orji Uka, a Nigerian lawyer who witnessed the proceedings, “The condition for the suspension of the execution of the judgment is that Nigeria must within 60 days pay into the court the sum of $200m. Additionally Nigeria must within 14 days pay to P&ID Ltd the interim cost of the proceedings assessed so far at $250m.
“If Nigeria fails to comply with the conditions of the Stay, the order will be lifted and P&ID Ltd will be entitled to bring an application for the immediate enforcement of the judgment. For the avoidance of doubt the court gave no conditions for the permission to appeal.
“Finally Nigeria’s oral application for permission to appeal against today’s ruling was immediately refused by the court.”
Earlier according to Uka, the court had heard from Mr. Matovu QC that Nigeria was interested in appealing against the August judgment.
The judge said he was “minded to grant Nigeria permission to appeal against his judgment, to the Court of Appeal. Subject of course to hearing from counsel to P&ID Ltd.
“After hearing two forceful arguments on the question of whether to grant Nigeria permission to appeal, Mr Justice Butcher has now invited arguments on whether to grant Nigeria stay of execution of the judgment. Arguments will proceed on the basis that permission will be granted.
Both sets of counsel and the Judge agree that the criminal investigation launched by Nigeria over the award of the GSPA to P&ID Ltd has no relevance whatsoever to the proceedings before the court.
But this is unsurprising.
“The court having heard both counsel’s arguments on whether to grant stay of execution of the judgment has indicated that he is seriously considering granting a stay of execution. However such order will be made conditional on the payment by Nigeria INTO COURT of the sum of $250m.
“The court has considered that the award attracts interest of $1.2m every day. And acting on the basis that the appeal will take approx 208 days, the Court is considering ordering Nigeria to pay the $250m into court pending the hearing of the appeal.
“If Nigeria fails to make the payment after a certain date, P&ID Ltd will be permitted to take steps to enforce the entire $9.6billion award sum and interest, and pay the proceeds of the enforcement into court pending the hearing of the appeal.
“The Court has therefore asked counsel to Nigeria to indicate how much he thinks Nigeria will need to make such a payment. Counsel to Nigeria understandably has no such instruction and has asked for time to take proper instruction. Court grants a stand down,” he stated on Twitter.
The judge then stood down the case till 2.30pm local time and eventually delivered his judgment.
Reacting to the decisions, the Irish firm said in a statement: “The court has ruled that the Nigerian Government must put up $200 million to maintain a stay of execution whilst it pursues an appeal against enforcement of the now $9.6 billion award in favor of P&ID. The Nigerian Government will now have to put its money where its mouth is if it wants to avoid immediate seizure of assets.
“The Nigerian Government’s recent media exercise to allege fraud against P&ID turned out to be a red herring. Indeed, the Nigerian Government did not present any evidence to support Attorney General Malami’s “findings” from his sham investigation. The Nigerian Government knows there was no fraud and the allegations are merely political theater designed to deflect attention from its own shortcomings.”
There was no word from the Nigerian government.