Eurafric Power Limited, an energy firm, says it has identified 33 properties of Nigeria in the United Kingdom for sale over the enforcement of a judgement in its favour.
In February 2013, the firm entered into a contract with the federal government over a share sale agreement with the bureau of public enterprise and the federal ministry of finance.
According to the agreement, the firm won the bid for the purchase of Sapele Power Plc, owners of Sapele Power Station, at the cost of $201 million, as well as material properties and core assets of the company — these included “site land” which was listed as one of its properties.
After an agreement was made, the national council on privatisation issued share certificate 0001 to Eurafric Power Limited on February 10, 2014, for the sale of the federal government’s equity in Sapele Power Plc.
A certificate of handover with No 0002 was also issued to the firm, showing the handover of Sapele Power Plc to Eurafric Power Limited, and this also provided for the handover of all assets, liabilities, employees, rights and obligations of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria to Sapele Power Plc, now owned by the firm.
According to Punch, the legal tussle between both parties commenced after moves by the federal government to transfer a significant portion of the premises already sold to Eurafric Power Limited to one Ogorode Power Generation Company, which the Nigerian government claimed did not form part of the sold assets.
However, Eurafric rejected the claim and commenced an arbitration against the federal government, as available in the provisions of the agreement signed by both parties.
On September 28, 2017, the tribunal ruled in favour of Eurafric Power Limited and the award was subsequently recognised by a UK high court in its judgement on January 15, 2018.
“The defendants are jointly and severally ordered and directed to pay to the claimant the following amounts: $2,500,000 as legal costs; £215,930.60 as an advance paid on costs and N57.9m, £10,018.50 and $11,158.33 as disbursements. All other claims and counter claims are dismissed,” the judgment reads.
The court issued a 30-day ultimatum for the defendants to appeal the judgement, after which the claimants would be free to enforce it.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to get the federal government to honour the ruling, the firm made its position known in a letter dated October 23, 2019, and addressed to Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation.
According to Godwin Obla, the firm’s lawyer, Eurafric said it had identified 33 of Nigeria’s properties in the UK which were not in use for diplomatic purposes, and explained that the assets risked being liquidated soon.
“In our view, the identification of the 33 properties by the foreign counsel may pose a significant risk to the interest of the Federal Government of Nigeria if or when the report is tendered before the UK court at which stage it becomes a public document and accessible to any member of the public,” the letter read.
“As it is now common knowledge, in the wake of the global publicity attracted by the P&ID case, Nigerian assets abroad now stand the increased risk of seizure/forfeiture for the liquidation of judgment debts. In our opinion, therefore, it will not augur well for potentially hostile interests to gain access to actionable information of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s assets in the UK such as are contained in the report of the foreign counsel.”
This development is coming amid Nigeria’s tie to several deals which have resulted in court judgments due to controversies.
Nigeria is considering a $30 million a month “take or pay” deal with Qua Iboe Power Plant (QIPP), a private generating company.
The current deal with Azura-Edo Power obligates Nigeria to pay at least $30 million a month whether or not the country takes the power generated by the plant.
Azura is the only private power company given a sovereign guarantee by the federal government following the World Bank partial risk guarantee (PRG) signed by Nigeria in August 2015.
Nigeria is also tied to a $10 million a month “take or pay” deal with Accugas Ltd to supply gas to the Calabar Generation Company Ltd, owned by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Ltd.
The country is also battling P&ID, another firm, which is attempting to seize $9 billion Nigerian assets.