The Nigerian government has won a case in a British Court that has overturned an $11bn (£9bn) arbitration award made to a firm following a dispute over a failed gas deal. The award, first made in 2017 then increased in 2019 to include interest, amounted to a huge chunk of Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
Monday’s ruling is part of a protracted legal battle between British Virgin Islands-based firm Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) and the Nigerian government.
Nigeria’s lawyers argued that P&ID had paid bribes to obtain the contract and corrupted lawyers to obtain confidential documents. P&ID denied Nigeria’s allegations, blaming the failure of the gas deal on institutional incompetence.
Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu welcomed the decision by the Business and Property Court in London. In a statement, he described it as a victory for Africa and the developing world, which he said had long been on the receiving end of “overt exploitation”.
Campaign group Spotlight on Corruption said Nigeria’s economic prospects had been held hostage by what it said was an arbitration award built on bribes and lies.
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In his ruling released on Monday, the judge found that P&ID had paid bribes to a Nigerian oil ministry official in connection with a 2010 gas contract, and had failed to disclose this when it took Nigeria to court after the deal fell through.