The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Tuesday, interrogated a former attorney-general and commissioner for justice in Lagos State, Olasupo Shasore, over his involvement in the P&ID $9.6billion judgement saga.
A source at EFCC, who asked not to be named because the commission frowns on public disclosure on such matters without authorisation, said Mr Shasore, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, arrived EFCC headquarters in Abuja in the afternoon on Tuesday.
As of 9.17p.m. on Tuesday when this newspaper got to know of the development, the source confirmed that Mr Shasore was still being grilled by operatives of the commission.
Mr Shasore, who was appointed as Nigeria’s lawyer in the P&ID case in 2012, was accused of compromising the country’s defence at a British arbitration tribunal, contributing to the humongous award issued against Nigeria by the panel.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported Mr Shasore’s only public statement on the matter in which he denied any wrongdoing and insisted on defending Nigeria’s interest in the case to the best of his ability with little or no cooperation from the government.
It could not be immediately confirmed if Mr Shasore was released to go home on Tuesday.
The Process & Industrial Development (P&ID), a British Virgin Island firm, was issued the arbitral award which subsequently rose to $9.6billion as compensation for Nigeria’s alleged breach of a Gas Supply Process Agreement (GSPA).
The GSPA was signed between the representatives of the Nigerian government on January 11, 2010.
P&ID, in 2012, commenced the arbitration proceedings against Nigeria in the United Kingdom for allegedly breaching its part of the GSPA.
Mr Shasore, who was the Lagos State attorney-general between 2007 and 2011 during the first term of the then Governor Babatunde Fashola in office, was appointed as counsel for Nigeria in the arbitration proceedings in 2012.
Nigeria was held liable by the arbitration tribunal in 2015.
In August 2019, P&ID obtained a ruling of a High Court in London authorising it to begin to seize $9.6billion worth of Nigeria’s assets to enforce the arbitral award.
But the Nigerian government appealed the decision in September 2019, after missing an earlier deadline to do so.
The British court gave Nigeria leave to appeal the decision, and also, issued an order for stay of execution provided it made a $200 million security payment.
In September 2020, the British Commercial Court granted Nigeria more time to prepare its challenge with new evidence.
In the decision, the court revealed that
despite receiving $2million in fees from Nigeria, Mr Shasore worked against the interest of his client.
The Nigerian government, in its case presented before the United Kingdom court, said Mr Shasore did not give his best to defend the country’s interest. Instead, the government said he rather kept pushing for settlement, suggesting that he was compromised.
Mr Shasore was also specifically accused of failing to disclose his involvement in the case to members of his law firm and running it through a different firm.
He was also said to have failed to cross-examine Michael Quinn, the founder of P&ID, on the matter, a lapse that was believed to have strengthened the firm’s case against Nigeria, thereby sabotaging the interest of the country.
The Nigerian government also noted that Mr Shasore, for more than a year, failed to cooperate in handing over necessary materials to Bolaji Ayorinde, the senior lawyer who replaced him.
Nigeria’s legal team added that in the first two stages of the arbitration, Mr Shasore deliberately “defended the case thinly”.
The former Lagos State attorney-general was also accused of making suspicious payments to some government officials.
In a statement in September 2020, Mr Shasore described the federal government’s position as spiteful personal attacks on his professional conduct and reputation.
Although he was silent on the suspicious payment he allegedly made to some government officials, he reaffirmed his commitment and professional integrity “to always act in the best interest of Nigeria, victimized by fraud and corruption.
He said he did his best to defend Nigeria in the case even when the Nigerian government failed to supply necessary documents.
He also said he represented Nigeria up until the liability stage in the arbitration, and had left the defence when the humongous award was issued against Nigeria.
“I was instructed in this matter and accepted the instructions on behalf of my firm and to the knowledge of my partners in late 2012 and I made every effort to defend and vindicate my client at every stage with very few tools and with minimal support from within the government itself,” Mr Shasore said.
“I represented Nigeria up until the liability stage in the arbitration. I did not represent Nigeria in the damages stage of the arbitration. Which means I was not involved when the huge sum of damages was awarded against Nigeria. The complete records will show the series of steps that I took to defend Nigeria and the several results, which I secured in that effort at various stages.”
He added, “I filed a jurisdiction objection that potentially could and should indeed have terminated the case in favour of Nigeria because it was clear to us from the beginning that the contract was a scheme against Nigeria.”
“When the then Nigerian officials failed to supply documents or any witness to defend their case, I fought liability by enlisting the support of the legal adviser of NNPC who gave evidence to the best of his knowledge when everyone else with knowledge, refused to do so.”
Mr Shasore also said he obtained an injunction restraining the parties and the tribunal from proceeding with the arbitration then.
On the issue of of $2million legal fee Nigeria was said to have paid him, he stated that it was payment to two law firms and not exceptional or unusual in the context of such a dispute.
“In fact, in order to extract the best possible case for Nigeria, it was from these fees that expenses were paid to ensure attendance at hearings and meetings in the UK by witnesses for Nigeria.”
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