Advocacy $9.6bn fine: HEDA Urges FG to Punish Former CJN...

$9.6bn fine: HEDA Urges FG to Punish Former CJN Belgore

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The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has asked the Nigerian government to sanction the ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alfa Belgore, for his alleged role in the $9.6bn fine imposed on Nigeria by a London court.

HEDA, in a petition, dated September 16 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari stated that Belgore flouted the Nigerian constitution by providing the legal springboard for the
imposition of fines that almost equal 20 percent of Nigerian foreign
reserves.
Justice Belgore was said to have been a key witness to Process and  Industrial Development (PID), a private firm that sued Nigeria over  botched gas contract leading to the $9.6bn judgement debt.
A copy of the petition was also sent to the Minister of Justice and  Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Mallami.
HEDA’ s Chairman Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said the former CJN should be prosecuted immediately by the Code  of Conduct Bureau before the Code of Conduct Tribunal for violating  Section 5 of the Constitution.
“It can be concluded, without equivocation, that drafters of the
Constitution understands weight of the offices occupied by the
prohibited officers and the potential implication of actions such as
taken by the former CJN,” Mr Suraju said.

HEDA said there was a clear case of conflict of interest which violates
the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

It refers to Section 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which
states that a public officer shall not put his or her person in a
position where personal interest conflicts with his duties and
responsibilities.

It noted that Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of
the 1999 Constitution prohibits former Presidents, Vice Presidents,
Chief Justices of Nigeria, governors and deputy governors from working
for the interests of foreign companies or enterprises.

Chief Justice holds strategic positions in Nigeria. He is a member of
the National Council of State Chairman of the Nigerian National Honours
Award Committee and Central Working Group Vision 20.20.20.

Reports claimed Justice Belgore testified as an expert witness before
the arbitration tribunal in the UK’s Business & Property Courts, for the
Irish firm, P&ID.

It was reported that as a result of his expert advice, in which he laid
claims to painstaking analysis of the Nigeria’s laws and exploiting its
shortcomings, cited case laws for the benefit of the firm which resulted
in a humongous arbitral award of $9.6 billion (N3.2 trillion) against
Nigeria.

The genesis of the award commenced from the accusation laid against the
Nigeria Government by P&ID for breach of a 2010 Gas Contract agreement.

It was on his status as a former CJN that the UK tribunal accepted Mr.
Belgore’s opinion with two members of the Tribunal – Lord Hoffman and
Sir Anthony Evans – ruling that the British Virgin Island firm is
entitled to $6.6billion in damages plus interest until the amount is
paid.

Also, a third member, Nigeria’s former Attorney General, Chief Bayo Ojo,
was said to have given a dissenting opinion, saying P&ID should be paid
not more than $250million.

In August 2019, the UK’s Business & Property Courts granted P&ID’s
request to enforce the 2013 award against Nigeria by the three-member
arbitration tribunal.

The tribunal relied on the Arbitration Act 1996 (England and Wales) and
the Nigerian Arbitration and Conciliation Act 2004.

If the award is executed, according to HEDA, the consequences will be
unpleasant for every Nigerian.

It further stated that “as a result of this breach, the former CJN
should be removed with immediate effect as Chairman of the National
Merit Honour Award Committee. He should be stripped of his National
Honour of Grand Commander of the Niger.”

HEDA said the former CJN, by this act, “is undeserving of the National
Honour currently held, Grand Commander of the Niger, as a holder of this
title ought to hold as utmost priority the nation’s interest, as his
action shoulders disrespect for the country.”

The act committed, according to HEDA, is grave and amounts to a breach
of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, thereby violating the
provisions of the Constitution.

Suraju said “As a former CJN, he is a member of the Nigerian Council of
State, which is chaired by the incumbent President and is made up of
past Presidents and Head of States of the country, former Chief
Justices, President of the Senate, Speaker of House of Representatives,
all governors of the 36 states of the country, the Minister of Justice
and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”.

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