Nigeria’s trial of the century kicks off in London’s High Court

By Olivier Holmey, in London
Posted on Monday, 23 January 2023 06:00

A landmark corruption trial begins in London’s High Court today Monday 23 January as Nigeria’s government seeks to overturn the largest financial penalty ever imposed by an arbitration tribunal on an African state. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A landmark corruption trial begins in London’s High Court today, as the Nigerian government seeks to overturn the largest financial penalty ever imposed by an arbitration tribunal on an African state.

The Buhari administration is accusing a construction company registered in the British Virgin Islands of having bribed its way to an $11bn arbitration award against the Nigerian state.

The stakes of the 32-day trial could hardly be higher: if the High Court were to decide to enforce the arbitration tribunal’s decision, Nigeria would be liable to lose nearly a third of its foreign reserves – an amount equivalent to three times the country’s combined annual health and education budgets.