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Priti tight-lipped about P&ID links

Priti Patel’s comments about Nigeria back in the spotlight again

18 September 2019

Back in November last year, when Priti Patel, the current home secretary in the UK, was just a Conservative backbencher, she penned an article in support of Process and Industrial Development (P&ID), who were involved in a $9bn legal tussle with the Nigerian government. questioned her involvement at the time.

The same concerns we raised at the time are again raised in the current edition of Private Eye magazine, a UK fortnightly publication, specialising in investigative journalism.

In a report titled “Priti strange”, the magazine asks: Why did home secretary Priti Patel repeatedly speak up for a British Virgin Islands-registered company trying to squeeze billions of dollars out of Nigeria for an unbuilt power plant? And why did Brexiteer guru Shanker Singham also back the offshore company against Nigeria?

Nigeria lost the case in a London commercial court last month with a $9bn bill at the end of proceedings. Private Eye goes on to state: It was a belated and half-hearted attempt by officials in Nigeria to challenge the judgment that could sink Africa’s largest economy. P&ID, which never built anything but had many well-connected friends, won its original contract in 2010 with curiously careful provisions for what should happen if the deal soured. When it did sour, arbitrators, more or less unchallenged by Nigeria, found in P&ID favour in 2017 awarding it $6.6bn; all the theoretical profits P&ID might have made in a perfect world (in a very imperfect part of the world), for a plant where ground was never actually broken. And interest of $1m a day.

Backing P&ID is a curious call for Patel and Singham. A detailed Bloomberg article on 4 September chronicled a long saga of greed and mediocrity, and just the sort of exotic characters that savvy political operators might wish to steer clear of. The man originally behind P&ID, Mick Quinn, who died four years ago, started out managing Irish “show bands” like Daddy Cool and Dickie Rock. After issues at home over a failed video cassette factory and the collapse of an EU-funded steel scheme, he set up as a contractor in Nigeria and, despite odd scrapes with the law, became a self-appointed authority on everything from HIV testing kits to repairing tanks and fighter planes – and a string of contracts that went nowhere.

The magazine goes on to say: Untroubled by the warning lights flashing, Patel, at the time resting on the backbenches after losing her job in government over unauthorised meetings with officials while on holiday in Israel, wrote articles between November and May pushing the P&ID case in City AM and the Telegraph.

Continuing, Private Eye notes: It is not clear which of the $10bn and rising settlement most attracted Patel and Singham to the plight of P&ID. They say this shabby carve-up is actually a development and trade issue – an absurd argument that may not even persuade friends in the lobbying and PR industries in which they used to work.

The magazine concludes with: We asked Patel why she was so keen on the case, and asked Singham if P&ID had helped or paid him with his research paper backing the firm. We received no responses.

Patel’s fellow Conservative and then prime minister of the UK, David Cameron infamously described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt”. He conveniently failed to look closer to home at colleagues like Patel, who aid and abet Nigerian corruption.

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