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FG Orders Probe of $9.6bn UK Judgment Debt

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*Nigeria’s Assets Not Under Threat-Lai Mohammed

By Justus Nwakanma, Abuja

The Federal Government yesterday ordered the probe of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan over what it alleged as international conspiracy in the purported gas contract leading to award of 9.

6 billion dollars judgment debt against Nigeria.

National Intelligence Agency and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) have been directed to conduct a thorough investigation into Process and Industrial Developments Ltd which was recently asked by a UK court to seize $9.

6 bn dollars in Nigerian assets.

 Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

Mohammed said the decision was based on the fact that the Federal Government suspected foul play in the contract which was negotiated and signed in 2010.

He said, “We want to place on record that the Federal Government views with serious concerns the underhanded manner in which the contract was negotiated and signed.

“Indications are that the whole process was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration, which apparently colluded with their local and international conspirators to inflict grave economic injury on Nigeria and its people.

“In view of the above, and in an attempt to unravel the circumstances surrounding the entire transaction, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, with the approval of Mr President, has requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the National Intelligence Agency and the Inspector General of Police to conduct a thorough investigation into the company, the circumstances surrounding the agreement and the subsequent event, which includes commencing a full-scale criminal investigation.”

Mohammed, however, said despite the court judgement, Nigeria was not about to lose any of its assets.

He added, “Despite the recent recognition of the award by a UK court, and contrary to some reports, Nigeria is not about to lose any of its assets to P&ID. There is no imminent threat to Nigeria’s assets!

“In the first instance, the enforcement of the award cannot even commence now because the judge in the UK court ordered that the P&ID cannot enforce the judgment against Nigeria until after the court resumes from its current vacation.

“What this means is that enforcement action cannot begin until a further hearing on the matter, which will take place on a date to be determined by the court upon its resumption.

“The Federal Government, therefore, wishes to use this opportunity to assure Nigerians that there is no immediate threat to Nigeria’s assets as has been wrongly interpreted by a section of the media.

“Nigerians should be assured that the Federal Government is taking all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the UK Court, to seek for a Stay of Execution of the decision, to defend its rights and to protect the assets of the people of the Federal Republic ofNigeria.”

Mohammed was joined at the press conference by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

Malami said preliminary investigations have revealed local and international conspiracy in the purported gas contract.

He said that the preliminary investigations revealed that the contract from conception was bound to fail because of deliberate inherent elements designed into it.

“I want to draw attention first to the composition of parties in the agreements which are the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources (FMPR) and the company, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID).

“As you rightly know, the federal ministry of petroleum resources is not a producer of gas.

“Gas products are produced by International Oil Companies (IOC) and NNPC.

“When you conceive, sign and execute a contract for the supply of gas products without involving the IOC and NNPC as parties to the agreement, you know very well that there are lot of questions to answer rising from the conception of the contract.

“This, among others, gave rise to the insinuation of fraudulent conspiracies right from the conception of the agreement.

“The fact remains that you cannot sign an agreement to provide a product that you do not have.

“The ministry does not have oil field and gas products but it went ahead to sign the agreement without involving those that are producers of gas products,’’ he said.

Malami said President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that a full scale investigation be carried out on the circumstances that led to the award.

He said the country, through the contract, was subjected to unnecessary economic sabotage and investigation would unravel those involved in the deal.

Corroborating Malami’s position, the CBN Governor said the claim by P&ID that it spent 40 million dollars on the botched contract was not correct.

“We have heard that the contractors in this case claimed that they spent 40 million dollars in the project.

“On our part in CBN, we know that as a foreign company, if you are investing in a contract or project in Nigeria, there are various options that you adopt.

“If you are bringing in machines into the country to execute a contract, you must fill certain forms and pay some money through the CBN.

Emefiele said: “We have gone through our records but we do not have any information to show that the company brought in one cent into the country for the purported project.

“We have accordingly written to the EFCC and other agencies investigating the case.

“Time has come that Nigerians should rise against those who claim to do business in Nigeria without investing a penny in the country but all with an intention to defraud the country.

“The money they are plotting to take belongs to all of us,’’ he said

The Finance minister on her part said the case was weighty considering the fact that the awarded 9.6 billion dollar is equivalent to N3.5 trillion.

“N3.5 trillion in our national budget will be covering for us recurrent votes if not more.

“Apart from being exorbitant, it is unfair and an assault to every Nigerian,’’ she said

According to Ahmed, every Nigerian must come together to ensure that the judgment is set aside because the consequences will affect everyone.

It will be recalled that in January 2010, the FMPR entered into a 20-year gas and supply processing agreement (GSPA) with P&ID to build a gas processing facility.

P&ID was to refine associated natural gas into non-associated gas to power the national electric grid.

Dr Rilwanu Lukman, who died in 2014, was the minister of petroleum at the time while late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was on a medical trip to Saudi Arabia.

Narrating the issues that led to the judgment, the information and culture minister said the 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement (GSPA) purportedly entered into with the P&ID in 2010, the company never performed as agreed.

“With the contract having suffered a setback, the case went to arbitration. P&ID’s claim in the arbitration proceedings was mainly for the loss of profit for the 20-year term of the GSPA.

“In an interim award, the Arbitration Tribunal ruled that Nigeria has breached the contract.

“Though Nigeria successfully applied to have that award set aside by the Federal High Court in Lagos, the Tribunal ignored this decision.

“Consequently, on January 31, 2017, the Tribunal rendered its final award against the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the sum of 6.597 billion dollars.

“This was in addition to pre-award interest at the rate of seven per cent per annum, effective from March 20, 2013 and post-award interest at the same rate from the date of the award

“This interest increased the size of the award to 9.6 billion dollars,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that after the arbitration award in 2017, Nigeria made several attempts to negotiate the award and resolve the whole issue amicably with P&ID but to no avail.

He said following an enforcement proceedings instituted simultaneously by the company in the UK and the U.S., the government engaged the services of the U.S. law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP.

The minister also reiterated government’s position on the underhanded manner in which the contract was negotiated and signed.

He said indications were that the whole process was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration.

Mohammed, however, assured Nigerians that contrary to reports in certain quarters, the country was not about to lose any of its assets to P&ID as a result of the judgment.

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CBN Shakes Up Banking Sector: A Paradigm Shift Unveiled

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By Ademola Oyetunji 

In a surprising turn of events on Wednesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) dissolved the boards of three prominent commercial banks – Keystone, Polaris, and Union Bank. This move, although unanticipated, transpired despite the Central Bank’s recent endorsement of these banks’ financial soundness.

Governor Olayemi Cardoso, at his inaugural address during the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) annual dinner last year, had lauded Nigeria’s financial sector’s resilience in 2023.

Stress tests conducted on the banking industry indicated its strength under various economic scenarios.
However, Cardoso highlighted the need for banks to reassess their responsible banking framework, a sentiment echoed by President Tinubu.

President Tinubu’s evident discontent with the Godwin Emefiele-led CBN triggered a comprehensive review of the financial system. A special investigator, Jim Obazee, was appointed to conduct a forensic investigation into Emefiele’s tenure, with damning revelations emerging. Recent developments suggest the initiation of a full-blown financial system reform.

The CBN’s dissolution announcement and the subsequent appointment of new executives for the affected banks, including Yetunde Oni, Mannir U. Ringim, Hassan Imam, Chioma A. Mang, Lawal M. Omokayode, and Chris Onyeka Ofikulu, might mark the beginning of implementing the investigation’s recommendations – a significant cleanup of the financial sector.

Allegations surfaced during the investigation, suggesting non-cooperation from some bank executives and Emefiele’s questionable acquisitions through proxies and cronies. Cardoso may have secured presidential approval for the CBN’s decisive action.

The CBN cited various infractions by the banks, including regulatory non-compliance, corporate governance failures, and activities threatening financial stability. Despite the challenges, the CBN assured the public of depositors’ fund safety and its commitment to upholding a safe, sound, and robust financial system.

The Special Investigator’s report revealed documents pointing to Emefiele’s involvement in Titan Trust Bank and Union Banks’ acquisitions with ill-gotten wealth. The CBN’s swift replacement of the ousted chief executives received widespread commendation, especially from high-net-worth stakeholders aiming to avert a crisis of confidence within the affected banks.

Adewale Aderounmu, an industrialist, applauded the CBN for implementing effective policies under Olayemi Cardoso’s leadership, despite detractors’ actions against the Naira. Ayomide Deepak, an Abuja-based stockbroker, welcomed the action but emphasized the need for caution in handling revelations from the investigation to prevent further economic challenges.

As the CBN wields its regulatory hammer on these banks, the hope is that other bank executives and investors will learn valuable lessons for the sake of the economy. The CBN’s action is perceived as a strategic move aimed at revitalizing the economy and financial system, not a mere vendetta.

*Ademola Oyetunji writes from Ibadan.

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Firm Blazes The Trail To Revolutionise  Nigeria’s Transport Sector

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Independent Capital, a visionary project finance firm has blazed the  trail in the country by championing green innovation and facilitating as well as  supporting green innovative projects in Nigeria.

This is coming on the heels of the plan by the Nigerian government to introduce gas-powered vehicles in the country as a fallout of the removal of fuel subsidies.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the firm, Dr.

George Nwangwu who announced this in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, said it was aimed at  a transformative leap towards sustainable transportation in the country.

He said with the company’s fusion of financial expertise, a profound understanding of environmental and social impact, a commitment to reducing carbon emissions and  improving transportation quality, “the company aims to reshape the nation’s mobility landscape for a cleaner and more prosperous future”,adding that “it is charting new territories in the realm of sustainable finance by announcing ambitious plans that signify a paradigm shift in Nigeria’s approach to eco-friendly initiatives”.

Similarly, Nwangwu said, its strategic approach combines financial expertise with a profound understanding of environmental and social impact, positioning the firm as a catalyst for positive change in the country’s transportation sector.

He added that the  cornerstone of Independent Capital’s visionary plans involves the unbundling of its three-wheeler Electric Vehicle (e-trike) which signals a significant move towards eco-conscious mobility.

 The CEO further said that the company is committed  to establishing a robust network of solar-powered charging infrastructure to support the operations of its e-trike fleet as the  innovative strategy not only tackles the obstacles associated with adopting electric vehicles but  would also actively contribute to the establishment of a sustainable energy ecosystem.

“We are dedicated to reducing carbon emissions, alleviating congestion and improving the overall quality of transportation for the Nigerian population. Independent Capital aims to create a greener and more efficient transportation ecosystem that enhances the lives of individuals and contributes to a cleaner environment, “he noted.

According to the firm’s CEO, in response to the recent removal of fuel subsidies, the Nigerian market is experiencing a fundamental shift, creating an opportune moment for innovative solutions in the e-mobility sector which “Independent Capital is well-positioned to capitalize on this shift by introducing sustainable transportation alternatives that cater to the evolving needs of the market”.

Also, speaking, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of the company, Mr.Moses Saromi said “with the e-mobility sector undergoing significant developments, driven by environmental concerns, technological advancements and shifting government policies our firm is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of transportation in Nigeria,”

He revealed that  the demand for e-mobility solutions in Nigeria is projected to grow exponentially by 15% CAGR and thus, Independent Capital stands at the forefront of providing sustainable alternatives to traditional vehicles and that with  a focus on e-trikes, the company strategically positions itself to capture a significant share of the expanding market to  meet the diverse needs of individual consumers and delivery services to the Nigerian society.

He added that in  the pursuit of a cleaner and more efficient transportation ecosystem, Independent Capital remains a driving force in the nation’s journey towards a greener future.

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Dangote Refinery Port Facility Receives Maiden Crude Cargo

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Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals plant has purchased 1 million barrels of Agbami crude grade from Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited (STASCO), one of the largest trading companies in Nigeria as well as globally, trading over 8 million barrels of crude oil per day.

The STASCO cargo contained 1 million barrels from Agbami and sailed to Dangote Refinery’s Single Point Mooring (SPM) where it was discharged into the refinery’s crude oil tanks.

The maiden 1 million barrels, which represent the first phase of the 6 million barrels of crude oil to be supplied to Dangote Petroleum Refinery by a range of suppliers, should sustain the initial 350,000 barrels per day to be processed by the facility.

The next four cargoes will be supplied by the NNPC in two to three weeks and the final of the six cargoes will be supplied by ExxonMobil.

This supply will facilitate the initial run of the refinery as well as kick-start the production of diesel, aviation fuel, and LPG before subsequently progressing to the production of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

This latest development will play a pivotal role in alleviating the fuel supply challenges faced by Nigeria as well as the West African countries.

Designed for 100% Nigerian crude with the flexibility to process other crudes, the 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Petroleum Refinery can process most African crude grades as well as Middle Eastern Arab Light and even US Light tight oil as well as crude from other countries.

Dangote Petroleum Refinery can meet 100% of the Nigeria’s requirement of all refined products, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and aviation jet, and also have surplus of each of these products for export.

The refinery was built to take crude through its two SPMs located 25 kilometres from the shore and to discharge petroleum products through three separate SPMs. In addition, the refinery has the capacity to load 2,900 trucks a day at its truck loading gantries.

Dangote Refinery has a self-sufficient marine facility with the ability to handle the largest vessel globally available. In addition, all products from the refinery will conform to Euro V specifications.

The refinery is designed to comply with US EPA, European emission norms, and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) emission/effluent norms as well as African Refiners and Distribution Association (ARDA) standards.

President of Dangote Group, Mr. Aliko Dangote stated: “We are delighted to have reached this significant milestone. This is an important achievement for our country as it demonstrates our ability to develop and deliver large capital projects. Our focus over the coming months is to ramp up the refinery to its full capacity. I look forward to the next significant milestone when we deliver the first batch of products to the Nigerian market.”

Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor stated: “We welcome the startup of a refinery that is designed to produce gasoline, diesel, and low-sulphur fuels for Nigeria and across West Africa and are happy to be enabling it.”

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