P&ID, Christopher Butcher’s long, cruel knife


Justice Christopher Butcher is a merciless and ruthless butcher. The British judge, who awarded a landmark sum of $9.6 billion as damages to an obscure Irish firm known as Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), is more ruthless than the butchers in Lagos abattoir.

The racist judgment Butcher handed down on Nigeria on August 16, 2019 in favour of his kinsmen would lead many of the 154 million Nigerians already living below poverty line to the slaughter slab. It would push millions more below poverty line and start them on the road to the slaughter slab.

Christopher Butcher’s judgment is the 21st century version of slave trade. It would trigger unbearable suffering and mass exodus that would put Nigerians in a desperate position to accept whatever is offered them in exchange for food and shelter in the white man’s land.

When P&ID extorts $9.6 billion from Nigeria on the orders of the butcher in London, the first thing that would happen is massive depreciation of the naira as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) becomes incapable of defending the naira in the foreign exchange market. Payment of Butcher’s fraudulent award would deplete Nigeria’s foreign reserves to the extent that the CBN would be forced to devalue the naira to something close to N500 to the dollar.

With Nigeria as an import dependent economy, inflation would simply spiral out of control and price basic food items out of the reach of the 154 million Nigerians living below poverty line. Hunger would plague the land while the health of the poor would deteriorate due to malnutrition. Thousands would die as poverty envelops the land.

The contract that handed P&ID the historic award is replete with inveterate irregularities. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), owners of the oil fields that P&ID was to get the gas supply from, was not a party to the dubious contract.

The contract is an illegal transaction because it was not endorsed by the federal executive council (FEC).

Former President Goodluck Jonathan noticed the myriads of irregularities in the agreement and ordered a renegotiation. It was obvious that the contract was designed to fail to enable P&ID claim billions of dollars and share with its Nigerian collaborators. That probably explains why the Irish company promptly rejected a renegotiation barely one month after the underhand deal was slapped together. P&ID headed for arbitration panel rather than renegotiate the fraudulent contract. Butcher ignored those facts in his racist ruling.

His judgment lacks any iota of morality.  He has empowered a company that came to Nigeria with an empty brief case to go home and enrich Britain and Ireland with $9.6 billion without putting down a pin as investment.

In Nigeria, a number of the gas-powered plants were completed before work started on the pipeline that would deliver the gas to them. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo commissioned a gas-powered electricity generating plant in the south-west during the dying days of his administration.  The gas pipelines from the oil fields in the Niger Delta that eventually supplied the plant was laid after the commissioning formalities.  Nigeria has done it before. It could have done it again in the case of P&ID if the company had built the plant in the first place.

Consequently, the party that failed to build the plant that could be fed by gas through the pipelines takes more of the blame for the breach of contract. The plant should have been built before the pipelines. Ignoring that factor renders the decisions of Leonard Hofmann, Anthony Evans and Butcher, fraudulent and racist.

Besides, the Irish company could not have started making profit in the venture until the completion of the gas plant about three years later. The ruling of the arbitration panel and Butcher awards P&ID the damages for prospective profit even before work on the plant could have started. 

The outrageous award is premised on fraudulent business projections. There is no way a company’s profit could remain constant for 20 years. It normally fluctuates. There were massive losses in the industry between 2015 and 2017 as oil price tumbled below $30 per barrel at a certain point. Many firms in the industry collapsed during the period. P&ID could have followed that path if it had lumbered off the ground. The future promises to be even more turbulent. 

P&ID could therefore not have made the same amount of profit for 20 years. Bayo Ojo, the Nigerian member of the arbitration panel considered this factor in his minority ruling and awarded P&ID the sum of $250 million as damages for breach of contract. 

Evans and Hoffman, the two whites in the arbitration panel, were bent on pleasing their kinsmen. They had no reason to be sympathetic to Nigeria and the 154 million people toiling below poverty line. They overruled Ojo in a majority decision that awarded P&ID the historic sum of $6.6 billion as damages.

The racist arbitrators and the judge ignored the mountain of evidence and handed the idle firm a gargantuan award that could push Nigeria’s level of poverty to calamitous proportions. 

Butcher, Evans, Hofmann and P&ID’s conspiracy must be challenged in a rather radical manner by toeing the path of China. Economic sabotage should carry the death penalty like in China.

The federal government contends that some Nigerians are conspiring with P&ID to rip-off Nigeria and share the loot. 

Government should send a bill to the National Assembly for an act making economic sabotage a crime punishable by death.  Nigerians who conspired with P&ID should be tried on the new law and sentenced appropriately. The convicts would therefore be dangled before P&ID as ransom for the $9.6 billion the company wants to extort from Nigeria. They would only be freed if P&ID renounces its demand for the fraudulent award.

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