No default judgment awarding a $6.59 billion arbitral award against Nigeria and favour of a firm, Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), has been made in a United States court, the federal government has affirmed. The Federal Government has faulted reports that a court in the United States has entered a default judgement affirming.
Denying reports about the award, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, in Abuja, confirmed that the firm sued the Federal Government of Nigeria in a US District Court, but said no judgment has been given yet.
Apata said the Nigerian government has taken the necessary steps to engage lawyers to handle the case on its behalf.
He was however silent on the details of the dispute and what informed the suit brought against Nigeria by the private firm.
Apata, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, said: “no default judgment was entered against Nigeria in the enforcement proceedings by P & ID.
“The Federal Government through its foreign solicitors, Messrs. Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, has commenced the process of challenging and defending the enforcement proceedings.
“It needs be stated that what is being taunted as a default judgment was actually a default entry made by the Court Clerk. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), a defendant has up to 60 days period to answer to a petition filed against it.
“Where no response is entered for the Defendant, the Court Clerk upon application by the petitioner makes a default entry, which in this case was made on 5th June, 2018.
“It is to be noted that under the FSIA, a default judgment cannot be entered against a foreign State like Nigeria unless the presiding judge determines so after the petitioner/claimant must have established its entitlement to a default judgment.
“Based on the presumption of sovereign immunity, the US District Court is still under obligation, despite default by a Foreign State, to determine whether the foreign state is immune from the jurisdiction of the US Court under FSIA or whether the case before it falls within one of the recognised exceptions.
“Even where the court determines that it has jurisdiction, a default judgment will not be granted automatically or as a routine matter to be handled by a court clerk as this can only be done after a formal trial.
“On 12th June, 2018 our foreign solicitors filed the necessary application to set aside the clerk’s default entry and to dismiss the entire case on grounds of defective service and lack of personal jurisdiction over Nigeria in line with the provisions of the FSIA.
“We wish to re-assure the general public that there is no default judgment against Nigeria at the instance of P&ID.
“We urge Nigeria’s foreign friends and investors to ignore the malicious reports.
“The Federal Government is also making concerted efforts through legal and diplomatic channels to resolve the issues in contention between the parties in this matter,” Apata said.