An Irish firm, which won a world record $9.6bn arbitration fine against the federal government, has instructed its lawyers to identify Nigeria’s assets that can be targeted to recover the money.
The company confirmed in an electronic mail to our correspondent that it was focused on identifying Nigeria’s assets that could be seized in the process of enforcing the decision of an arbitration tribunal which was recently converted to a court judgment.
In the email on Sunday, the company hinted at the possibility of seizing Nigerian naval vessels or oil cargoes, citing the Argentinean and Venezuelan experiences as precedents.
In the email sent by John Ehiguese, the P&ID’s representative, the company said, “We cannot confirm specifics. However, the P&ID’s legal team is working diligently to identify and target assets that may be used for enforcement of the tribunal award.
“There have been many successful enforcement cases against sovereign states in the past.
“In the case against Argentina, creditors detained an Argentine naval vessel; in the case against Venezuela there was the seizure of state-owned oil cargo. There is a wide range of potential assets.”
However, the company did not rule out the possibility of alternative resolution of the fine, which has the potential of wiping out 20 per cent of the country’s foreign reserves.
The company said the onus was upon the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to show good faith and enter into reasonable negotiations.
It stated, “The real question is: is the Nigerian Government willing to enter good-faith negotiations? The ball is now in the court of the Buhari Administration to demonstrate a mature, good-faith approach to a resolution; their legal arguments have been completely rejected.
“In the meantime, the P&ID will look to seize Nigeria’s assets in the UK to enforce the award as soon as possible. The company’s current focus is vigorously enforcing the award.
“The onus is on the Nigerian government and the Buhari Administration to demonstrate a mature, good-faith approach to a resolution.”
The Irish firm accused the administration of engaging in a smear campaign instead of addressing the issues.
It said, “Instead of accepting responsibility or pursuing a negotiated settlement, the Buhari administration has regrettably chosen to continue its campaign of misinformation and misdirection, including wild allegations against the English judge and commencing a sham investigation.
“This approach is not constructive, and will not help to resolve the situation. The P&ID will begin enforcing its legal rights, including the seizure of Nigerian assets in the UK.”