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$9 billion: Protesters march over UK court P&ID ruling

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PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

Following the ruling by a British court to award Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) the right to attempt to seize some $9 billion (N2.9 trillion in the official exchange rate of N305/$) in assets from the Nigerian government, a coalition of civil society groups marched outside the British embassy in Abuja in protest.

“We will not submit to second slavery,” a protester said. “We will not submit to second colonisation. We will not allow some entities to come and take over our commonwealth or defraud our dear nation Nigeria.”

“As citizens of this country, we shall not allow neo-colonialism. Our leaders are here to articulate our point and convey the same to the British government and the international community. Several statements have been flying trying to disparage, denigrate, abuse and cast aspersions on the image of our nation.”

P&ID was awarded $6.6 billion in an arbitration decision over the failed project in 2010 to build a gas-processing plant in Calabar. The sum has now increased to over $9.6 billion with interests.

According to Reuters, the Irish gas firm can seize assets in any of the 160 countries that are part of the New York Convention – a global pact for the recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards.

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The protesters carried banners that appealed with the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to call the British judge to order.

President of the coalition, Etuk Williams Bassey called the judgement a fraud that must be investigated before stating it was politically motivated and brandishing it a “kangaroo judgement”.

“We believe in justice,” Bassey said in Abuja. “[The] $9.6billion judgement in [the] UK is a fraud. We have come today to register our displeasure about the $9.6 billion judgement in [the] UK. It is unfortunate. It is uncalled for. That judgement cannot stand. That judgement will inflict pain on over 200 million Nigerian people.”

He also said they will occupy the embassy until the decision is reversed, calling Monday Day one of their protests.

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