Mambilla: How Presidency directed NSIA to source $200m judgment debt for Sunrise in 2021 – Report

Previous reports on the controversial 3,050mw Mambilla hydropower project, indeed show that the Presidency had directed the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to source for the sum of $200 million for settlement of an International Court of Arbitration in Paris award in favour of Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited.

At the time, officials at the Federal Ministry of Power said the government had agreed to pay the sum and had mandated NSIA to work out modalities for settling the debt.

The $200 million settlement offer, it was learnt, was to compensate Sunrise Power for the unlawful termination of the contract for the project and the re-award of the same to another Chinese firm.

The spokesman to then Power Minister (Engr. Salleh Mamman) at the time, Aaron Artimas, said the government through the NSIA and other channels were working on how to settle the debt, stressing that it was incorrect to allege that there was no plan to honour the agreement.

Artimas, however, admitted that the payment had been delayed, stressing that this was due to some challenges, which were being addressed at the time

He said, “The only issue now is the delay in payment, but the government has committed to the agreement. However, the government is explaining that the challenge of COVID-19 affected its finances.

“But despite that, the NSIA was given a mandate on this by the president, because the government has to find money somewhere, as this was not budgeted for. So the government will pay,” the spokesman said.

Based on terms the settlement, Sunrise was expected to relinquish all claims to the project once the requirements contained in the agreement with the government were settled.

Officials of the power ministry also stated that the new contractors for the project were on ground, holding on till when the ongoing survey of the site and compensation of land owners were completed in Taraba, where the about $4 billion plant would be constructed.

The original contract for the Mabilla project was for the plant to generate 3,050MW of electricity, but this was reviewed downward.

However, events have since taken a different turn, with new statements and conflicting positions.

The Head of Communications at NSIA, Titilayo Olubiyi, at the time also stated that the Mambilla power project was captured under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

Olubiyi noted that although the details on how the funding of the project would be done were not available yet, work was already ongoing by the PIDF team on financing the power plant.

However, in a twist to the story, in February this year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declared Leno Adesanya, promoter of Sunrise Power and Transmission Limited, wanted for “an alleged conspiracy and corrupt offer to public officers”.

The Nigerian government is alleging fraud and corruption involving public officials in the award of the contract.