Former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alfa Belgore

 

Former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Alfa Belgore, should
face sanctions for his alleged role in the $9.6-billion fine imposed
on Nigeria by a London court, says anti-corruption group, Human and
Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre).

Justice Belgore was said to have been a key witness to Process and
Industrial Development (PID), a private firm that sued Nigeria over a
botched gas contract leading to the $9.6bn judgement debt.

HEDA said in a petition dated September 16 and addressed to President
Mohammadu Buhari that the former CJN flouted the Nigerian constitution
by providing the legal springboard for the imposition of fines that
almost equal 20 percent of Nigerian foreign
reserves.

A copy of the petition was also sent to the Minister of Justice and
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

In a statement by HEDA' s Chairman Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, made
available to SaharaReporters on Wednesday, the group 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.

HEDA said by providing supporting evidence for P&ID and proffering the
expert advice for the Irish company, the former CJN violated the
provisions of the Constitution and also put asunder Nigeria’s
strategic national interests. It urged the Federal Government to probe
the
incidence to establish whether the CJN' s action was for personal gains.

"It can be concluded, without equivocation, that drafters of the
Constitution understood the weight of the offices occupied by the
prohibited officers and the potential implication of actions such as
taken by the former CJN," the group stated.

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.

HEDA added, "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 a painstaking analysis of 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," stated HEDA.

"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 $6.6 billion 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 $250 million."

In August 2019, the UK’s Business & Property Courts granted P&ID’s
requested enforcement of 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.

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

"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."

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 added, "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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