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Osinbajo meets economic team over $9.6 billion judgment debt

By Mathias Okwe and Terhemba Daka, Abuja
03 September 2019   |   4:23 am
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday met with members of the Economic Management Team (EMT) in Abuja over the $9.6 billion judgment debt awarded against Nigeria by a United Kingdom...

Members of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups protesting against the $9.6 billion judgment debt against Nigeria at the British and Irish embassies in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

• British, Irish envoys shun protesters
• Nigerians to occupy embassies for one week

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday met with members of the Economic Management Team (EMT) in Abuja over the $9.6 billion judgment debt awarded against Nigeria by a United Kingdom court in respect of a failed gas deal with an Irish firm, Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID).

Specifically, the court in the ruling of August 16, 2019 ordered the company to seize Nigerian offshore assets of that value for alleged contract default.

There was no official statement after the meeting which ended about 3:00p.m., as those who attended the closed-door session filed out of the Presidential Villa one after the other without uttering a word to newsmen.

It was gathered however that the Federal Government had dropped the idea of negotiating with the Irish organisation in respect of the verdict.

A presidency source, who was disposed to details of the gathering, confirmed that the meeting was for Osinbajo to receive an update from the government lawyer and chart the next line of action.

“We just invited our lawyer to update us on the matter and what next action needs to be taken,” he stated.

Those at the gathering, which began at 1:30p.m., included the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva.

Others were Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo; Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kolo Kyari; Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.

Meanwhile, the protesters, who stormed the British and Irish high commissions yesterday for reversal of the judgment, have vowed to occupy the buildings for one week.

The decision followed their alleged snubbing by the authorities at the embassies.

The about 5000 youths and adults under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Groups and drawn from across the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) defied the early morning rains with their placards bearing various messages amid chants of anti-colonial songs.

While the march lasted, both the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CB, and the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, Seán Hoy, refused to address the demonstrators.

Even their letter of complaints was neither received by the envoys nor members of staff, as it was instead, read by the president of the coalition, Etuk Bassey, assisted by the secretary, Mallam Abubakar Ibrahim.

Angered by the envoys’ behaviour, the protesters resolved to press on with the picketing of the two embassies until they get audience and submit their complaints for onward transmission to London and Dublin.