Nigeria escapes $1.5bn liability as US tribunal rules against Interocean

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The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute in the United States has relieved Nigeria of a $1.5bn liability in an application for arbitration filed by two oil companies.

Abubakar Malami, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF), said in a statement the arbitral tribunal gave the judgment during its sitting on Tuesday.

The oil companies — Interocean Oil Development Company and Interocean Oil Exploration Company — had in 2013 filed the request for arbitration before the tribunal.

They had sought for settlement of investment disputes against Nigeria over a contract between the two parties.

But in the statement issued on Wednesday by Umar Gwandu, Malami’s spokesman, the minister quoted the tribunal as ruling that Nigeria did not breach any of its obligations in its contract with the companies.

He also said the tribunal ordered the oil firms to pay Nigeria the sum of $660,100 as reimbursement of the arbitration costs incurred in the proceedings.

The statement read: “The oil companies that has among its legal team, Mr. Olasupo Shasore, SAN requested, among others, relief from the Tribunal directing the Federal Government of Nigeria, its relevant privies and instrumentalities to pay aggravated damages in an amount to be proven during these arbitral proceedings which the Claimants estimate at being in excess of US$ 1.5 billion.”

The statement quoted part of the judgment as reading that the “tribunal finds no liability on the part of the respondent in connection with claimants’ loss of control over their investment, Pan Ocean”.

The AGF described the judgment as another big win for Nigeria in international litigations, adding that gone are the days of connivance to deprive the nation of its resources.

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