Nigeria will fight to protect government assets from the possibility of a US$9-billion court-granted seizure over a gas project dispute, the country’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed has said.
Ten days ago, a UK court granted the company Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) the right to go after some US$9 billion assets owned by the Republic of Nigeria, after the firm had won earlier an arbitration award over a failed project for a gas processing plant in Africa’s largest oil producer.
Back in 2010, P&ID and the Nigerian government struck a deal under which Nigeria would provide gas to a processing plant that the company would build and operate in Calabar, southern Nigeria.
The deal failed and the company took Nigeria to an arbitration court in 2012 over the failed agreement. P&ID was awarded US$6.6 billion—now the award, including interests accrued, tops US$9.6 billion, Andrew Stafford, Q.C. of Kobre & Kim, which represents P&ID, told Reuters earlier this month.
The sum is not a negligible amount for Nigeria—it equals roughly 20 percent of the West African country’s currency reserves, according to Reuters.
After receiving the go-ahead from a UK judge to go after the award, the company planned to start the process of seizing asses from Nigeria, Stafford said in the middle of August.
Now Nigeria—which has argued that the UK is not the venue for such court decision and that the award is “manifestly excessive”—vows to protect any government assets from a possible seizure.
“The federal government is taking all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the UK Court, to seek a stay of execution of the decision, to defend its rights and to protect the assets of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed said today, as carried by Reuters.