Uche Usim, Abuja
Protesters drawn from the Coalition of Civil Society Groups on Monday stormed the British High Commission and Irish embassy in Abuja to register their dissatisfaction over the recent $9.6 billion fine slammed Nigeria by a United Kingdom-based arbitration tribunal.
The ruling was in favour of an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) in compensation for a botched gas supply processing agreement contract signed with the federal government in 2010.
Speaking at the British High Commission in Abuja, the President, Coalition of Civil Society Groups, Etuk Bassey Williams said protest became necessary as Nigerians see the judgement as a travesty to justice and total disrespect to the sovereignty of Nigeria because the matter was not supposed to be heard in a foreign out the country where the said irregularities occurred.
Williams said the coalition has vowed to continue the occupy UK, Irish embassies protest for the next one week until the judgement is reversed.
He said: “we consider the judgement an error and miscarriage of justice considering that P&ID did not initiate any moves to build the gas processing plant to refine natural gas.
“The company has not been able to capacity or core competence in handling gas projects of such magnitude.
“We demand that the judgement be set aside as it is evident that it is ill-motivated and undermines Nigeria’s sovereignty.
“Nigeria government and P&ID should go back to the position of the arbitration tribunal in July 2015, where it concluded that Nigeria should pay $850 million notwithstanding an out-of-arbitration agreement”, he stated.
The protesters carried various placards with inscription such “$9.6bn judgement is a fraud,” “No to illegal take over of our national assets,” “Nigeria rejects fraudulent judgment from British judge,” among others.
However, officials of the British High Commission and the Irish embassy shunned the protesters who drummed and danced to zestful solidarity songs.
They were provided adequate security cover as they marched to both embassies.
Recall that the United Kingdom, Business & Property Courts (the Commercial Court), presided by Justice Butcher, on August 20 granted a request for the enforcement of a March 20, 2013, award against Nigeria by a District Circuit Court in Washington DC, USA.
In 2017, the tribunal awarded P&ID $6.6 billion as damages. But, the amount grew to the about $8.9billion with an additional $2.3 billion in accumulated interest at 7 per cent rate per annum following Nigerian government’s refusal to enter an appeal for over five years.
Reacting to the judgment, the Nigerian government described the award as a conspiracy to cause economic damage to Nigeria.
On behalf of the government, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the government has resolved to probe the contract with a view to bringing suspected collaborator and conspirators to account.
On Saturday Mr Malami denied reports he was responsible for the negligence that led to the award.