I Never Authorised Mambilla Settlement Agreement With Sunrise – Buhari

February 21, 2024
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Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari

The immediate-past president, Muhammadu Buhari has denied reports that he approved a settlement agreement with Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited over the Mambilla hydroelectric power project.

This revelation follows a similar denial by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who also refuted claims of authorising a “build, operate and transfer” contract with Sunrise Power in 2003.

The dispute over the Mambilla project, intended to construct a 3,050MW plant in Taraba State, escalated when Sunrise Power initiated arbitration against Nigeria at the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris, France, on October 10, 2017.

The company sought a $2.354 billion award for an alleged “breach of contract” related to the 2003 agreement.

In defense, the Nigerian government accused the award of the contract of being marred by fraud and corruption.

Efforts to resolve the matter led to a settlement agreement in January 2020, orchestrated by then Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

The agreement committed the federal government to pay Sunrise Power $200 million within 14 days, with a penalty clause of 10 percent for any default, in addition to reinstating Sunrise as the local content partner for the project.

However, internal communications revealed that Buhari refused to sanction the $200 million payment to Sunrise Power, citing financial constraints.

“FG does not have USD 200 million to pay SPTCL
,” Buhari reportedly responded to Malami’s request for approval.

Malami’s subsequent efforts to renegotiate the settlement were attributed to the economic fallout from the global pandemic.

Despite an apparent out-of-court settlement agreement reached to halt the arbitration, the proceedings were not terminated.

Buhari’s recent communication with the current AGF, Lateef Fagbemi, as seen by TheCable, underscores his stance that he never authorised any form of settlement with Sunrise Power.

Buhari wrote in a letter to the AGF, “The Mambilla project was one of the key projects that I wanted to complete under my administration, but the project was bedevilled by a myriad of issues, mostly inherited.

“While I understood that my ministers of justice, power and water resources were approached by Sunrise and were engaging with various stakeholders that were involved in the project to resolve the issues blocking the project’s implementation, at no time did I specifically instruct them to enter into and conclude any settlement agreement with Sunrise Power and Transmission Company Limited.

“Indeed, when the proposed settlement agreement and addendum were presented to me for my consideration and approval on 20th April 2020, I refused to approve the settlement deal because I was convinced that there was no basis for Sunrise’s claim.”

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