$9bn UK Court Ruling: No Need to Panic—CBN Governor

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By Adedapo Adesanya

With the premise of tough times ahead for the Nigerian economy due to the recent $9 billion court ruling in favour of an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID), Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has appealed to investors to remain calm over the country’s foreign reserves.

The CBN Governor disclosed this while speaking at the retreat organised for ministerial designates in the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday.

This arose as a result of British court ruling which granted Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) the right to seize $9 billion in assets from the Nigerian Government over a failed gas project.

“It is important for me to use this opportunity to assure our friends, local and foreign investors who called to expressed solidarity with us, not to express concern but to say that there is no need for anybody to worry.

“We know that the implication of that judgement has some impact on monetary policy and that is why the CBN is going to step forward and very strongly too to ensure that we defend the country and defend the reserves of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the apex bank chief informed newsmen.

According to the CBN Chief, there were on-going discussions with the apex bank’s counsels, and the bank has been advised that there are sufficient and strong grounds for Nigeria to file a stay of execution and also an appeal against the judgement.

“I am not scared at all and I think it is also important that this question has come up. Since the news about the judgement broke out late on Friday, we have been discussing with our counsels, and they have advised that there are sufficient and strong grounds on the basis of which we could file a stay of execution and also an appeal against that judgement.

“There are certain anomalies in the process leading to the award of that contract which is currently being looked into by the EFCC and I believe that the EFCC themselves have their own investigation reports about that.

“So, we will follow through and aggressively too on ensuring that the execution of that judgement is stayed and that the appeal succeeds at every level both within Nigeria and abroad,” he said.

The development had occurred when P&ID, an Irish Firm has been awarded $6.6 billion in an arbitration decision over a failed project to build a gas processing plant in the Southern Nigerian city of Calabar. With the accumulated interest payments, the sum now tops $9 billion, which amounts to 20% of Nigeria’s foreign reserves.

According to reports, the case dated back to 2010 under the administration of Nigeria’s former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. The Nigerian government had struck a deal with the Irish firm to supply gas to a processing plant built and run by P&ID in Calabar.

Specifically, the deal was supposed to span 20 years. However, the Nigerian government failed to keep its side of the agreement, prompting the firm to seek legal action against Nigeria.

Mr Emefiele has said efforts are being put in place to defend the bank’s interest in the issue and would not relent in exploring every viable option in doing so.

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