P&ID: How ex-CBN Gov, Emefiele resisted pressure to pay off $11b arbitral award—Aondoakaa



A former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation AGF, Michael Aondoakaa has revealed how the immediate-past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele saved the country billions of dollars that would otherwise have been paid as arbitral award to a foreign company, Process and Industrial Developments P&ID.

Speaking on an Arise Television breakfast show, Aondoakaa who was AGF when P&ID agreed with Nigeria in 2010 to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State, said the CBN under Emefiele greatly assisted Nigeria’s legal team in the case instituted against Nigeria in a London court.

P&ID had said the contract failed because the Nigerian government breached the terms of the contract. It therefore approached the courts where on January 31, 2017 it succeeded in securing an arbitral award of $6.6 billion against Nigeria as well as pre-and post-judgment interest at seven per cent.

Speaking on the development, Aondoakaa who was part of the consortium of senior lawyers interfacing with Nigeria’s lawyers at the London court, also urged the current Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation AGF, Lateef Fagbemi SAN to look at other fraudulent cases filed against the country.

He said:“This fraud has been exposed and it gives us a window to look at other similar cases like Ajaokuta and the rest of them that they hurriedly went abroad, got arbitration and are trying to enforce against Nigeria. “I particularly give credit to the CBN under the then Governor, Godwin Emefiele because there was strong pressure that settlement should be made. Our team was in the minority that we must fight till the end. There was also apprehension that if we didn’t settle and the court now give judgment against us, that Nigeria would lose everything. But for them to have confidence in us, there was one going man in the CBN, the Director Legal Services, he gave us the confidence, gave us the support and ensured that we were able to present to the UK lawyers that this was a fraud. So, I am most grateful, I completely agree with the honourable Attorney General that this is a big fraud.”

Aside Aondoakaa’s comment on Emefiele confirmed what presidency sources revealed at the time that many including a top government official then mounted pressure on President Buhari to approve payment for the award to avoid heavier penalty if the matter dragged on.

Emefiele was said to have resisted and advised the President strongly against such approval, staking his name in convincing the President that the contract was fraudulent and that the P &ID would not succeed in court if Nigeria hired competent lawyers. It was based on the assurances of Emefiele that President Buhari refused payment and rather encouraged litigation which eventually favoured Nigeria.

The Federal Government had on Monday won the legal case against P&ID Limited in a London court.

The judgment was delivered after five years of legal frameworks which have finally been to the advantage of Nigeria, as the court quashed the $11 billion arbitration award in favour of P&ID. Emefiele who had been in the custory of Department of State Servces(DSS) was released Thursday night but was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimess Commission shortly after. He was in the custody EFCC as at the time of press last night.