A London court on Friday gave Nigeria’s government more time to appeal in a long – running multi-billion-dollar arbitration case over a failed gas deal.
Process & Industrial Developments ( P&ID) secured a High Court ruling last August to begin seizing $9.6 billion in assets – about one -fifth of the country’s foreign reserves.
FG appealed the decision in September, despite having missed a deadline to do so, and was given a stay of execution provided it made a $200 million security payment.
In a ruling handed to the parties on Friday, Commercial Court judge Ross Cranston granted Nigeria more time to prepare its challenge with new evidence.
“I grant Nigeria’s applications for an extension of time and relief from sanctions,” he said in a written judgment.
Nigeria’s attorney general’s office said the decision was a “major victory in our ongoing fight to overturn the injustice of the multi-billion dollar arbitral award.”
It added “FG will now proceed to a full trial of the issues, where the FRN’s substantive application to finally set aside the award will be heard.”
Attorney General spokesman Umar Jibrilu Gwandu said the government had unearthed new evidence that the deal was “designed to fail from the start and that its subsequent arbitral award was based on fraud and corruption”.
It added, “We are firmly committed to overturning the award — no matter how long it takes — to ensure that this money goes towards Nigeria’s future.”
The dispute centres around a 2010 deal between Nigeria and P&ID Ltd for a plant to turn natural gas burned off during oil production into electricity.
But the deal fell through, sparking the protracted legal wrangle that saw the firm claim vast sums in lost revenues.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime, which inherited the case when he came to power in 2015, alleges “massive fraud in procuring the award ”.
P&ID was awarded $6.6 billion in arbitration in 2017 as compensation for losses and the sum has since risen to nearly $10 billion with interest.
Nigeria countered last year by opening its own corruption investigation into the deal, and in October charged two British nationals with fraud and money laundering.
Two local representatives of P&ID were convicted of tax evasion and fraud , and the company ’s assets were ordered to be forfeited to the government .