Former Lagos State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Supo Shasore, has broken the silence over allegations that he let down his nation by allowing himself to be corrupted by P&ID, while also corrupting some public officials working for NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum, with bribes totaling $200,000.
Shasore was the first lawyer Nigeria hired to defend its interest against the monstrous and fraudulent claim of almost $10 billion made by Irish company P&ID.
Sir Ross Cranston of the UK High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division Commercial Court put Shasore’s conduct under scrutiny in the judgment delivered on Friday, concluding that Shasore was compromised by the guys in P&ID.
But Shasore, on Saturday reacted to the allegations in the P&ID v FRN Case, saying that in the last 24 hours, he had been urged to break his deliberate silence about the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria to find recourse against the arbitral award procured by P&ID based on a corrupt and fraudulent contract.
He said his choice of silence had been the result of his own high sense of responsibility as well as his commitment to the professional duty, which he undertook in representing the Federal Government in this case.
Shasore stated that he was relieved that the corrupt and fraudulent foundation of this case was affirmed in the recent ruling, though he was disappointed that part of the case made for that result was a case against him based on demonstrably false statements, unfounded innuendoes and spiteful personal attacks on his professional conduct and reputation.
“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. This 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,” he explained.
According to Shasore, he 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.
“We overcame numerous hurdles and faced a hostile tribunal, which relied on the testimony of a principal witness who had died before the hearing and whose testimony should have been discounted. It is on record that I fought had 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.
‘Indeed, this was the ground on which I took the matter to the Federal High Court in Nigeria, which was the proper seat of the arbitration and successfully obtained an order setting aside the liability award. There was no basis to proceed to the damages hearing since the liability had already been set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Indeed, Nigeria continues to rely on this order in the proceedings in the United States. In addition, I obtained an injunction restraining the parties and the tribunal from proceeding with the arbitration. Much issue has been made about the legal fees paid. This was a 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,” he explained further.
According to him, even though he reserved the right to respond to further falsehoods against him as they were published, he is, however, a truly patriotic Nigerian, and remained willing and committed to assisting Nigeria in
the numerous stages still required to successfully defend this dispute.
He added that his commitment and professional integrity to always act in the best interest of Nigeria, that had been victimized by fraud and corruption, remained unshaken.
According to the judgment read by Cranston, Nigeria’s lawyer, Mr Howard accused Shasore for deliberately defending the case thinly, at the first two stages of the arbitration, such that the Tribunal had no choice but to find for P&ID.
The reason was that he had colluded with P&ID, with the inevitable result that Nigeria would lose the case”, Howard said.
”In advancing his case, Mr Howard pointed to various factors: Mr Shasore had advised a speedy settlement, as in his 17 July 2013 letter to the then Attorney General, without investigating the obvious line of defence that P&ID, a BVI company with no experience, assets or finance, would not perform.
“Next, Mr Shasore concealed his involvement from his own firm.
“Further, in the conduct of the arbitration he did not seek disclosure of any of the 100 files Mr Quinn referred to in his statement, relevant to the preparatory work P&ID was said to have performed.
“Finally, there was no useful evidence on the Nigerian side in Mr Oguine’s witness statement, which he drafted.
“It was significant, Mr. Howard submitted, that in the arbitration proceedings Mr. Shasore failed to challenge Mr. Quinn’s evidence of P&ID’s ability and willingness to perform the contract and the US$40 million said to have been expended.
His attempt at cross- examination of Mr Quinn was bound to fail when he had not challenged anything significant in Mr Quinn’s statement, the issue of cross-examination was foreclosed at the case management hearing in which he participated, and Mr Quinn was dead (which he claimed not to know).
“Then there were Mr Shasore’s reply submissions, added Mr Howard, where he wrongly asserted that his statement of disputed facts essentially challenged all the facts in Mr Quinn’s statement.
“Additionally, Mr Shasore dragged his feet when conduct of the arbitration was transferred from the Ministry to the Attorney General for the quantum stage. At the quantum stage, Mr Howard submitted, Nigeria’s new counsel, Mr Ayorinde, was precluded from reopening the matter.
“Not only did he not know of Mr Shasore’s behaviour, he had no basis to apply to reopen the Tribunal’s prior findings”, Howard concluded.
P&ID’s lawyer, Mr Mill defended Shasore and submitted that it simply could not be said that this was a fabricated dispute, and Nigeria did not treat it as such.
“Through Mr Shasore Nigeria advanced what would have been a knock-out blow with its challenge on jurisdiction with an argument which even the Attorney General, Mr Malami, thought was a good one.
“That was entirely inconsistent with the suggestion, said Mr Mill, that Mr Shasore was somehow conspiring with P&ID and putting up a sham defence for the sake of appearances.