A United Kingdom judge says the timely observation and intervention of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was instrumental in how the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) deal with Nigeria became known and identified as a fraudulent endeavour.
Sir Ross Cranston of the UK High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division Commercial Court explained that the vice president was a regular fixture all through the review process.
Cranston noted that Osinbajo’s “fraud on the nation” statement in June of 2018 worked in Nigeria’s favour.
A brief overview of a deal gone wrong
On January 11, 2010, British firm P&ID inked a gas supply and processing deal with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on behalf of the Nigerian government.
P&ID was expected to build and operate an Accelerated Gas Development project in Adiabo in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State, going by the provisions of the contract.
On its part, Nigeria was expected to provide natural gas from Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 123 and 67 operated by Addax Petroleum; and supply this gas to P&ID which the company would now refine into lean gas capable of powering Nigeria’s fragile electricity grid.
An initial volume of about 150 million cubic feet of gas per day was expected to be supplied by Nigeria.
This was expected to rise to about 400 million cubic feet per day during the 20-year period of the contract.
The contract never got off the ground.
P&ID accused Nigeria of not fulfilling its part of the bargain after negotiations were opened with the Cross River State government for allocation of land for the project.
P&ID claimed the failure to construct the pipeline system to supply the gas “frustrated the construction of the gas project, thereby depriving it of the potential benefits from over 20 years’ worth of gas supplies.”
In 2012, P&ID dragged Nigeria to court, alleging breach of contract.
Nigeria argued before the tribunal that “the failure of P&ID to acquire the site and build Gas Processing Facilities was a fundamental breach and that no gas could be delivered until this has been done.”
In August of 2019, P&ID won its case against Nigeria.
Initially awarded for $6.6 billion, the contract sum would rise to $10 billion due to accrued interest since 2013.
According to the New York Times (NYT), government officials said the contract was signed while late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was critically ill and Goodluck Jonathan was acting president.
On Thursday, September 3, 2020, Cranston granted Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.
The case could now return to arbitration based on new evidence, or both parties will now settle out of court.
The vice president’s intervention may have saved the day for Nigeria.