P&ID: UK court rejects FG’s corruption claims against Shasore, former Lagos AG
Olasupo Shasore, a former Lagos attorney-general and commissioner for justice, has been cleared of corruption allegations in the Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) case
In a judgement delivered by email, Robin Knowles, justice of the Commercial Courts of England and Wales, ruled that Shasore has not been “shown to be corrupt” in the case
The court also halted the enforcement of the $11 billion arbitration award in favour of P&ID against Nigeria
“In this judgment, I have rejected Nigeria’s case that Mr Shasore SAN and other members of Nigeria’s legal team have been shown have been corrupted,” Knowles said.
THE P&ID AWARD
On January 31, 2017, a private arbitration tribunal ordered Nigeria to pay $6.6 billion to P&ID plus interest beginning from March 20, 2013.
With the interest rate fixed at seven percent amounting to $1 million a day, the potential payment had accumulated to over $11 billion before the verdict.
The company had claimed that it entered into a contract to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River state and that the deal collapsed because the Nigerian government did not fulfil its end of the bargain.
The former Lagos attorney-general had represented Nigeria on the P&ID case.
The federal government accused Shashore of compromising the case in favour of P&ID.
Shasore was also alleged to have been bribed to avert justice in the controversial gas supply purchasing agreement (GSPA) contract.
The government had argued that Shasore bribed two senior lawyers in the ministry of petroleum and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to go on with the collusion.
But P&ID had denied the allegation, stating that if the argument on the GSPA was voided and the question on the jurisdiction of the tribunal had been successful at the time, Shasore’s position “would have knocked out P&ID’s entire claim”.
The former Lagos commissioner for justice has also maintainedthat he defended Nigeria to the best of his ability on the matter.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had interrogated Shasore on numerous occasions over his involvement in the P&ID case.
SHASORE’S ACTIONS ARE INCONSISTENT WITH NIGERIA’S THEORY ON CORRUPTION’
In his judgment, Knowles said parties in the case did not invite Shasore to testify as a witness in the case, adding that the lawyer has not “sought independently to provide an account to the court”.
The judge said Shasore’s actions were “inconsistent with Nigeria’s theory” that he was corrupt.
“His actions are inconsistent with Nigeria’s theory that he was. Four examples suffice,” the judge said.
“First, his advice to Nigeria to investigate, and allow expert evidence to be obtained, and to proceed in a timely fashion, was sound and constant.
“Second, he assisted Nigeria to succeed in its applications to the Nigerian Court.
“Third, his participation in the various settlement discussions helped reduce the figures.
“Fourth, a review of the transcript of the hearing on liability shows repeated robust challenges by him of P&ID, and indeed of the tribunal; and it is impossible to read pages 55-59 and 68-71 of that transcript as other than properly attempting through argument to secure an outcome in favour of Nigeria.”
Also, Knowles said there is no evidence to suggest that the payment of $300,000 to Ovie Ukiri, a partner, by Shasore was a bribe to lure Ukiri to leak Nigeria’s internal legal documents.
“Mr Shasore had just been paid more than US$1 million by Nigeria for his legal work. The payment was to his partner (Ukiri) in a legal practice,” the judge said.
Nothing links Mr Ukiri’s email with the payment, or shows why Mr Shasore SAN should go about things in this way if (which I do not accept has been established at this trial) he was behind P&ID receiving copies of Nigeria’s Internal Legal Documents.
‘MALAMI DIDN’T BELIEVE THAT SHASORE WAS CORRUPT‘
The UK judge said Abubakar Malami, a former attorney-general of the federation, did not “in truth believe” that Shasore was corrupt.
Knowles said in 2018, Malami approved the engagement of Shasore to represent the ministry of power in a $2.4 billion arbitration claim by Sunrise Power.
On 21 November 2017, Mr Shasore SAN was engaged by Nigeria to represent the Ministry of Power in a $2.4bn arbitration claim by Sunrise Power and Transmission Co,” the judge said.
“His appointment was approved by Mr Malami SAN on 6 March 2018 and formally confirmed by Mr Malami SAN on 18 March, 2018
On 1 September 2021, Mr Malami SAN approved the engagement of Mr Shasore SAN’s firm to act for Nigeria in a second arbitration brought by Sunrise, resulting from Nigeria’s failure to comply with the settlement agreement.
“The agreed fee was up to US$1.15m. Mr Malami SAN has not explained to this court how these events are consistent with a belief on his and Nigeria’s part that Mr Shasore SAN had been corrupt, in his professional work for Nigeria in the arbitration against P&ID.”