Malami Advises Nigeria on Best Ways to Sell National Assets
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, has advised the Federal Government of Nigeria on the best ways to concession or sell national assets in order not to run into trouble.
In a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media and publicity, Mr Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, the nation’s chief law officer said future transactions must be carried out in the national interest and in compliance with the law.
He stated this while reacting to the settling of the long-standing contractual dispute with a foreign investor group in Ajaokuta Steel company by 91 per cent to $496 million from $5.258 billion.
The mediation proceedings, according to a statement, were under the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) framework led by Mr Phillip Howell-Richardson and came into effect on August 19, 2022.
Nigeria succeeded in reducing the claim in mediation brought by the international firm of King and Spalding, legal representatives of the global group, by 91 per cent.
A claim for over $10 billion was threatened in arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce, International Court of Arbitration, Paris, in respect of five major contracts of 2004-2007 – covering steel, iron ore, and rail.
In May 2020, the group threatened a resumption of the arbitration and announced an anticipated claim in damages of over $10-14 billion against the Nigerian State in respect of the affected 5 contracts.
But the government made efforts to resolve the matter and Mr Malami said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has now rescued the steel industry from interminable and complex disputes as well as saving the taxpayer from humongous damages.”
“One of the lessons to be learnt included that the future arrangements – sale or concessions – must be carried out in the national interest and in compliance with the law,” he noted.
The statement stated that the Minister grappled with the inherited problem by adopting a blueprint of seven principles for the cost-effective resolution of contractual disputes wherever they occur.
“They are the use of institutional mediation, choice of FGN counsel, the use of financial advisers with reputational capital, the importance of not discouraging foreign investment, fiscal responsibility, transparency, and the recognition that joined-up government produces superior outcomes,” it stated.
The FGN engaged PwCNigeria to do a comprehensive review to ensure taxpayers are protected. Also, Dr Tunde Ogowewo, a barrister (and senior academic at King’s College London), represented the FGN and advised the government throughout the process.