A former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State, Mr Olasupo Shasore (SAN), who represented Nigeria at the inception of the case against Process and Industrial Developments, a British Virgin Island engineering firm, has said he defended the country to the best of his ability in the matter.
SaharaReporters had exposed how Shasore was allegedly paid a bribe to compromise the case in favour of P&ID.
According to documents at the disposal of SaharaReporters, Shasore, during the course of the EFCC’s investigations, was earlier paid $2m by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for his involvement in the first and second stages of the arbitration.
To achieve this target, he concealed his involvement in the case from his own firm, Ajumogobia & Okeke, but conducted the proceedings covertly through a separate firm, Twenty Marina, which had no background in litigation and was used to provide secretarial services.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, it was discovered, made payments of $100,000 each to Mrs Adelore and Mr Oguine, who were senior lawyers for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and NNPC at the time.
The Nigerian Government also presented evidence that he did not give his best to defend the country’s interest but rather kept pushing for settlement, suggesting that he was compromised.
Reacting on Saturday, Shashore said he was not involved when the huge sum of damages was awarded against Nigeria.
He said, “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. 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.
“None of these is consistent with the unfounded allegations that I failed to present the best available defense. With very little or no cooperation from relevant government officials at the time, 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.
“I instructed the UK firm of Stephenson Harwood, a respected international arbitration team, and a leading barrister to attempt to set aside the award on liability in England. It is on record that I fought hard for the tribunal to dispense with that evidence. I am happy that the falsity of that testimony has now been recorded in the High Court in England.
“Much issue has been made about the legal fees paid. This 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.”
SaharaReporters, New York