Nigeria appeals $200 mln court payment for stay on asset seizures in $6.6 billion P&ID case

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by Felix Onuah

ABUJA, Nov 20 – Nigeria has lodged an appeal against an order to pay $200 million to a British court for a stay on asset seizures while it challenges a ruling that would have allowed a firm to try to seize more than $9 billion in assets, its attorney general said.

Process & Industrial Developments, a private firm set up to carry out a gas project with the West African country under a 2010 contract, won a $6.6 billion arbitration award after the deal collapsed. The award has been accruing interest since 2013 and is now worth more than $9 billion.

In September, a British judge gave Nigeria permission to seek to overturn the ruling that had been in favour of P&ID, which was established by two Irish nationals with little experience in oil and gas.

In exchange for granting Nigeria’s request for a stay on any asset seizures while its legal challenge was pending, the country was ordered to pay $200 million to the court within 60 days. The deadline is due to be reached next week.

“We have appealed against the payment,” Attorney General Abubakar Malami said in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday

He did not say when the appeal had been lodged or what the response, if any, had been from the court.

Nigeria’s appeal of the ruling that allowed the British Virgin Islands-based firm to seek assets, called a “set-aside”, would need to prove there was an error in that ruling.

Malami also denied reports that Nigeria had sacked its team of lawyers.

“The lawyers are not sacked,” he said. The attorney general said new lawyers may be used since the focus of the case had shifted from appealing the ruling to proving that there had been an error.

But he said this did not mean the previous legal team would be replaced. “We may decide to bring on board new sets of lawyers to handle the new brief, but then we may decide that the old and new lawyers should work together,” he said.

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