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$9.6bn judgment award: Nigeria can’t hide US bank documents it obtained – P&ID

The Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), which obtained the $9.6bn arbitration award against the Federal Government, said on Saturday, that a New York federal court in the United States of America, has granted it access to documents which Nigeria government was preparing to obtain from 10 banks in the US.
The Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, had in April, approached the New York court to subpoena the banks to enable it to obtain the account details of some of the country’s former top leaders in its bid to overturn the $9.6bn arbitration award.
The 10 banks sought by the government to be subpoenaed included Citigroup and JPMorgan, as well as, the New York branches of Deutsche Bank AG.
Justice Lorna Schofield, was said to have on Thursday, granted Nigeria government’s request to subpoena the 10 US banks, to obtain bank documents of persons suspected to have connection with P&ID.
The Federal Government which alleged fraud in the contract leading to the $9.6bn award against it by a London arbitration panel in January 2017, informed the New York court of its intent to obtain the bank documents of persons suspected to have connection to P&ID to enable it to prove the alleged fraudulent activities of the British Virgin Island engineering firm.
P&ID in an e-mail sent to our correspondent on Saturday, hailed the New York court’s ruling said to have been delivered by Justice Lorna Shofield last Thursday.
Noting that it did not oppose the Federal Government’s application for the subpoena of the banks, it added that the court in its ruling rejected the Federal Government’s attempt to shield the documents from it.
It said with the ruling, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), would not be able to “misleadingly” use the documents obtained in the process in the London court where the Federal Government’s case challenging the $9.6bn award is pending.
It stated, “We are pleased with the U.S. court’s decision to grant P&ID discovery as part of Nigeria’s 1782 application. Nigeria’s desperate plea to keep the results of its fishing expedition hidden was rejected by the U.S. court.
“As a result, AG Malami will not be able to selectively and misleadingly use this discovery in the English courts as part of its baseless fraud case to avoid paying P&ID.”
Our correspondent approached the AGF’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Dr Umar Gwandu, for comment on the last Thursday’s ruling in New York, but he gave no comment.
A London arbitration panel had in January 2017 issued the humongous $9.6bn award against Nigeria after finding the Federal Government liable for the breach of a 20-year gas supply agreement signed in 2010 between P&ID and Nigeria, through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
P&ID had on August 16, 2019, obtained a judgment of the English commercial court permitting it to commence the enforcement of the $9.6bn arbitral award.
But Nigeria, alleging fraud in the agreement leading to the award of the $9.6bn, had launched various legal actions to stop the enforcement of the judgment.
The government through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, had since obtained a conditional stay of execution of the judgment and the court’s leave to appeal against the judgment.
The full statement from P&ID:

We are pleased with the U.S. court’s decision to grant P&ID discovery as part of Nigeria’s 1782 application. Nigeria’s desperate plea to keep the results of its fishing expedition hidden was rejected by the U.S. court. As a result, AG Malami will not be able to selectively and misleadingly use this discovery in the English courts as part of its baseless fraud case to avoid paying P&ID.”   
Background
Nigeria’s Section 1782 application before the U.S. court is a desperate and absurd maneuver. P&ID is not troubled by the prospect of the discovery sought by Nigeria in this shotgun-style approach, and P&ID did not oppose Nigeria’s application. There is no truth nor credible evidence in Nigeria’s allegations against P&ID. The Court did not indicate otherwise, and merely acknowledged the minimal showing necessary to take discovery in the U.S. under Section 1782.
Moreover, despite Nigeria’s submissions to the contrary, the court ordered Nigeria to give P&ID access to any documents they receive and to any depositions they may conduct. As the Court noted, “P&ID has an undisputed interest in the subpoenaed information as Applicant states that its investigations and criminal proceedings relate to P&ID, and the requested material relates to P&ID as well.”  Nigeria has also been ordered to meet and confer with the “interested parties as is necessary.”  Thus, the Court rejected Nigeria’s attempt to keep P&ID in the dark about the discovery it seeks.
Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, has directed a campaign to manufacture fraud and bribery evidence in an effort to avoid having to pay P&ID a lawful arbitration award issued by a London tribunal three years ago. The results of the EFCC’s sham investigation relies on concocted “evidence” procured through illegal detentions, blatant violations of human rights and due process and forced confessions. The tactics of AG Malami are the subject of widespread criticism and censure by the U.S. State Department and members of the U.S. Congress, including U.S. Senator Charles Grassley who has asked the U.S. Government to consider sanctions against AG Malami and the head of the EFCC under the Global Magnitsky Act.
Mounting Criticism of Buhari Administration
Recently, Reuters reported that U.S. Senator and Chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley, has raised concerns with the Trump Administration over concerns that Nigerians “face violations undermining freedom of religion, freedom of speech, due process, and the rule of law” under President Buhari.
Moreover, Chairman Grassley in his letter asks the U.S. Department of Justice to consider investigations and potential sanctions against AG Malami and EFCC Acting Chairman Magu. Grassley wrote that the institutions these gentlemen oversee serve “as an enforcement arm against anyone voicing opposition to the Buhari government,” which has been directly involved in the “detention of innocent individuals and withheld critical medical care and legal representation all in violation of the Nigerian Constitution.” Senator Grassley goes on to ask, “what steps has the United States government taken to consider whether sanctions would be appropriate against certain individuals such as EFCC Chairman Magu and Attorney General Malami under the Global Magnitsky Act or the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act?
Sanctions under these programs could include revocation of visas, seizures of assets, and other significant penalties.
You can read the full letter here.
The questions raised about AG Malami and Mr. Magu are consistent with concerns raised in multiple reports from governments and NGOs that have documented the escalating abuses of the Buhari regime. Recently, the U.S. Department of State released their 2019 Human Rights Country Report for Nigeria.
The report found, “[s]ignificant human rights issues included unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and arbitrary detention, all the above by both government and nonstate actors; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; unlawful infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; criminal libel; violence against and unjustified arrests of journalists; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association…” It also raised the flag on how the EFCC is “implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivations.
Concerns are rising from across the U.S. and U.K over the abhorrent practices of the Buhari Administration. This week, the American Principles Project, an influential group close to the Trump Administration wrote to U.S. Attorney General William Barr , echoing Senator Grassley’s letter and calling out President Buhari for his abdication rule of law and human rights. Baroness Goldie has also said that the U.K government will impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on nations, which violate human rights, which they have already identified Nigeria as doing.
Exactly none of this has come as a surprise to P&ID, as these reports corroborate what P&ID employees and affiliates have been experiencing since the Fall of 2019, in the immediate aftermath of the UK court’s decision to uphold the legitimacy of the Arbitral Award. Simply said, P&ID is one of many victims of Nigeria’s persecution of perceived political enemies. Quite apart from its corrupt efforts to steer the P&ID case toward a politically expedient outcome, the individuals targeted by Nigeria as part of this effort have been subjected to treatment that falls far short of international standards for due process and the humane treatment of prisoners.
Indeed, in the course of the EFCC’s sham investigation of P&ID – overseen by AG Malami and EFCC Chairman Magu – P&ID has highlighted numerous examples of P&ID employees and other witnesses having been subjected to treatment that falls far short of internationally accepted standards for due process and humane treatment. This includes:
  • Detaining several individuals (including Nigerian and foreign citizens) for upwards of six weeks without charge, in an underground cell without ventilation, and without access to legal counsel or vital medication and medical care; and
  • Violating the rights of lawyers affiliated with P&ID, detaining several for merely conducting an arbitration on their client’s behalf, and apparently infringing upon the attorney-client privilege.
The Facts AG Malami Doesn’t Want You to Know
Nigeria’s sham investigation of P&ID has included the following deplorable tactics:
  • Illegally interrogating Justice Alfa Belgore, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who provided expert evidence to the arbitral tribunal on issues of Nigerian law in the original P&ID-Nigeria arbitration, and also detaining his assistant for six nights;
  • Illegally interrogating and detaining Nigerian lawyers for P&ID, including the illegal seizure of P&ID attorney-client files related to the arbitration case;
  • Illegally detaining an elderly former low-level employee and a nominee director, who many years ago did some low-level work for P&ID, and coercing him into entering a guilty plea on behalf of P&ID which he had no authority to do;
  • Illegally detaining an Irish citizen, Jim Nolan, and threatening him with charges of industrial espionage, only offering to release him upon signing a false confession implicating P&ID (which he has refused to do), and limiting his access to legal counsel;
  • Illegally detaining Grace Taiga, a 70-year old in ill health, grandmother and retired Nigerian civil servant who served in the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum Resources at the time the GSPA contract was signed. In late September, and as part of the EFCC investigation, the Nigerian Government charged her with receiving bribes, which she has consistently denied. She was illegally detained for 2 weeks, in violation of Nigeria’s constitution, before these charges were laid. During this time, the EFCC denied her access to essential medical care, withheld her access to legal representation and bullied and threatened her, and members of her family. She has been subjected to unannounced visits in hospital by senior members of the Government, pressuring her to plead guilty and implicate P&ID (which she has refused to do).

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