US Arbitration Tribunal Frees Nigeria of $1.5bn Liability

Nigeria has again won another international legal battle as the United States-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute ordered Inter Ocean Oil Company to pay the federal government $660,129.87 as reimbursement of its share of the arbitration costs incurred in the proceedings.

The latest victory is coming barely a week after Nigeria recorded another victory in its ongoing legal tussle with the Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited as a London Commercial Court ordered the release of the $200 million guarantee for the stay of execution granted the country pending the appeal filed against the judgment of Justice Christopher Butcher for the execution of the Arbitral award of $10 billion to the company.

The tribunal, headed by Professor William Park, also freed Nigeria of $1.5 billion liability, maintaining that Nigeria did not breach any of its obligations in the contract agreement with Interocean Development Company and Interocean Oil Exploration Company.

In a statement issued yesterday by Dr. Umar Gwandu, media aide to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, the oil companies through their legal team, led by Mr. Obi Nsugbe (SAN), had requested relief from the tribunal.

The company specifically asked the tribunal to direct the Federal Government of Nigeria, its relevant privies and instrumentalities to pay aggravated damages in an amount to be proven during the arbitral proceedings which the claimants estimate at being in excess of $ 1.5 billion.

According to the statement, the tribunal in its judgment delivered on Tuesday held that the federal government has not breached its obligations toward claimants under Nigerian law or under international law.

“The Tribunal finds no liability on the part of the respondent in connection with claimants’ loss of control over their investment in Pan Ocean,” the judgment reads in part.

Malami, in a remark, described the judgment as an addition to the multiple success stories recorded in international litigations by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

“Malami, who renewed commitment to patriotically and relentlessly discharge his constitutional mandates in the best interest of the nation and the general public, said gone was such an era of connivance to deprive the nation of its resources for gratifying ulterior motives of vested interest at the expense of the Nigeria populace,” the statement added.

Barely a week ago, Nigeria recorded another victory in its ongoing legal tussle with the P&ID Limited as a London Commercial Court ordered the release of the $200 million guarantee for the stay of execution granted the country pending the appeal filed against the judgment of Justice Christopher Butcher for the execution of the Arbitral award of $10 billion to the company.

Malami had hailed the court’s ruling even as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had also hailed the court’s decision, saying the $200 million will enhance Nigeria’s management of the exchange rate of its domestic currency, the naira, while ensuring monetary and price stability.

P&ID had sought to increase the security to $400 million, but the court presided over by Sir Ross Cranston rejected the request and ordered cost of £70,000 against P&ID.

The $200million ruling came about three weeks after the court had granted another cost of £1.5million against P&ID.

The London Court had on September 10, 2020, directed P&ID to make an interim payment of more than £1.5 million within 21 days to cover legal costs Nigeria had incurred in getting the court to allow the nation file court processes outside the time provided by law.

The ruling had come about a week after the court granted Nigeria’s application seeking permission to challenge the $9.6 billion arbitration award obtained by the firm based in the British Virgin Islands, well outside the normal time limits.

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