A judge in the UK has ordered P&ID to make an interim payment of more than £1.5 million to Nigeria within 21 days to cover legal costs the country incurred as part of its successful application for the extension of time to challenge the arbitration award of $9.6 billion to the company.
The judge gave the order on Thursday in a hearing held to decide procedural and costs issues relating to Nigeria’s applications to challenge the arbitration award and to determine the short-term directions to trial, ChannelsTV reports.
The ruling comes off the back of the major victory Friday last week when the court allowed Nigeria to bring a fraud challenge against a $9.6 billion arbitration award obtained by vulture-fund-backed P&ID well outside the normal time limits.
“This is another crucial win for Nigeria in our ongoing fight against the vulture-fund-backed P&ID,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General of the Federation said in a statement announcing the latest development.
“We are pleased that the English Courts have taken our fraud challenge seriously, and awarded us a substantial interim payment in respect of our successful application for an extension of time to challenge the award.”
With the order, Nigeria will now proceed to a full fraud trial, in its quest to avoid paying the arbitration award which is estimated to be one-third of the national budget.
The Nigerian government considers the order a “significant blow” to P&ID as will help speed up the trial and halt what it says are attempts by the company to delay the process.
“To date, P&ID and its financial backer VR Capital have not produced a single document or credible witness to challenge the FRN’s fraud evidence,” it said of the attempts.
“Instead, they continue to resort to disseminating misleading claims, while taking every step possible to delay or obstruct our investigations across multiple jurisdictions.”
The Nigerian government has maintained over time that the contract that led to the arbitration was fraudulent and that it would work relentlessly to overturn it.