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NNPC Wins $2.7bn Debt Suit at U.S. court

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U.S. Southern District Court of New York has delivered judgment in favour of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) against ESSO Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited and Shell Nigerian Exploration and Production Company Limited (collectively ESSO).

The Corporation disclosed this in a statement issued by Mr Ndu Ughamadu, the Spokesman for the corporation, on Sunday in Abuja.

It will be recalled that a court hearing was held on February 1, in the protracted litigation arising from the disputes between NNPC and ESSO regarding the implementation of the Production Sharing Contract dated May 21, 1993 covering OPL 209/OML 133.

ESSO referred its claims to arbitration in Nigeria and obtained an Arbitral Award of 1.

799 billion dollars on Oct. 24, 2011, with annual interest running at LIBOR plus 4 per cent.

NNPC challenged the Award at the Federal High Court, Abuja, which in May 2012, ordered that the Arbitral Award be set aside.

Notwithstanding the decision of the Nigerian Court, ESSO applied to the United States District Court, Southern District of New York for recognition and enforcement of the Arbitral Award.

NNPC challenged ESSO’s Application on the ground that there was no Award, which the US Court could enforce as a competent Court in Nigeria had since set aside the Award.

NNPC also contended that there was no legal basis for the US Court to exercise jurisdiction over it as it had no presence in the United States, owned no property and does not conduct its businesses therein.

ESSO contended that NNPC is the alter ego of the Federal Government of Nigeria, owned assets in the USA including bank accounts and also conducts businesses in the USA.

ESSO obtained the leave of Court to conduct Jurisdictional Discovery to ascertain if the US Court could assert personal jurisdiction over NNPC.

At the close of the Discovery Procedure, the Court ordered NNPC and ESSO to appear for oral hearing, which was held before Honourable Judge W. H. Pauley on February 1, for parties to canvass their respective positions.

On September 4, the US Court delivered its Judgment by which it upheld the Corporation’s Application to Dismiss ESSO’s Enforcement Application on the ground that a competent Nigerian Court had set aside the underlying Award.

It also directed the Clerk of the Court to terminate and discontinue all motions and processes filed by ESSO in the matter.

“By this development, NNPC has successfully secured the dismissal of ESSO’s application to secure recognition and enforcement of its Arbitral Award valued in excess of US$2,699,405,616 plus interest.

“The effect is that ESSO, who had sought the Order of the US Court to enforce the said Award, has lost the right.

“While ESSO is at liberty to appeal this decision, NNPC is optimistic that its case on appeal is very strong.

“This is a significant decision in the history of this case as the US Court has not only discharged NNPC from any indebtedness to ESSO but also set the stage for NNPC’s pursuit of the challenge of three other outstanding Enforcement Applications filed in the US Court by other PSC Contractors,’’ Ugahmadu said

He also said that the decision of the US Court would lend weight to the effort of NNPC and the PSC Contractors to explore amicable resolution of underlying PSC disputes.

NNPC was represented by the US law firm of Messrs. Chaffetz Lindsey LLP, and Nigerian law firm of Messrs. Streamsowers & Kohn. (NAN)
ENO/HAS

Economy

Bankable Projects will Empower Youth, Women in Agriculture – Speaker

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas, says Nigeria can empower youth and women in Agriculture with the development and implementation of bankable business proposals.

Abbas said this at the Second Interactive Session and Workshop on Developing Bankable Business Proposals/Business Plans for Youths and women in Agriculture on Monday in Abuja.

The Speaker, who was represented by his Deputy, Rep.

Benjamin Kalu, said youth and women are the most vital demographics in the society.

The event was organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.

While acknowledging the bank and its partners for their contribution and interventions in the sector, Abbas said the need to diversify Nigeria’s economy could not be over emphasised.

According to him, our over-reliance on oil as primary resource has become neither sustainable nor profitable as the global community shifts towards greener, more sustainable energy sources.

“This reality makes it not just necessary, but urgent for us to explore and invest in alternative sectors.

“By focusing on developing and implementation of bankable business proposals, we can empower our youth and our women, to become key players in these sectors.

“Their active participation is not only essential for economic diversification, but also for ensuring food security and sustainable development through agriculture and technological advancements through high safety,” he said.

Abbas recognised AfDB’s hi-5 priorities to empower, feed, industrialise, integrate and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

He expressed the commitment of the legislators to support youth and women development through various projects and programmes.

He urged for more collaboration of the AfDB and other stakeholders to advance initiatives that could drive significant progress in the country and across the continent.

“Through this, we will certainly build a better, more resilient future for Nigeria and for the world,” he said.

Earlier, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari, said any workable concept on youth and women in agriculture would contribute to sustainable agricultural development across the continent.

Kyari said the country was committed to work closely with bilateral and multilateral development partners, in advancing the engagement of youth and women in agriculture.

“Notably, agriculture remains the singular sector with the highest potential for mass job creation.
Youth participation will further bridge the gap for aging farm population.

“It will take development back to the rural communities, cause a significant improvement in production and overall productivity and offer a veritable platform to accentuate the poverty reduction drive of government,” he said.

Kyari said President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda for Food Security was poised to change the narrative of agriculture of a way of life.

“And agriculture as a wealth creating sector with sustainable, marketable, and bankable business prospects for youth and women engagement.’’

Similarly, the Minister of Youth Development, Dr Jamila Ibrahim, said it was crucial to build capacity of youth and women to see agricultural beyond subsistent but as an enterprise.

Ibrahim expressed the commitment of the ministry to work with stakeholders to co-create initiatives to support women and youth.

“We are open to working with partners to strengthen what we are doing. By doing so, we will build a brighter future for Nigeria,” she said.

For the Minister of Communications, innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, innovation is key to solve most challenges we face in Nigeria and the continent.

Tijani said that this innovation could not be done without including the young people including women, thus the need to invest in them.

Also speaking the Director-General, West Africa Region of AfDB, Mr Lamin Barrow, said the event was part of activities to celebrate the bank’s 60 years anniversary.

According to the director-general, Africa’s progress will be driven by young dynamic workforce, thus the importance to boost investment in them.(NAN)

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Economy

SEC Approves Commencement of Access Holdings N351bn Rights Issue 

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved the commencement of the N351 billion rights issue capital raising programme of Access Holdings Plc.

A statement made available by the Holdings to newsmen on Sunday in Lagos confirmed this.

The group said that the approval marked a significant milestone in its previously announced capital raising programme, which aimed to generate up to $1.

5 billion.

It also said that the rights issue was strategically structured to boost Access Holdings’ financial position and support ongoing working capital needs.

According to the holdings, the programme will also provide funding for organic growth across its banking and non-banking subsidiaries.

“The approved rights issue offers 17,772,612,811 ordinary shares of N0.50 each at a price of N19.75 per share.

“The offer will be issued on the basis of one new ordinary share for every two existing ordinary shares held as of June 7, 2024,” it said.

The lead issuing house for Access Holdings’ rights issue is Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Ltd., while Atlas Registrars Ltd. will serve as the Registrars to the offer.

The offer will open on July 8 and close on Aug. 14.

It noted that the rights circular would be distributed to shareholders by Atlas Registrars Ltd., and application forms would also be available on its various websites.

The holding company advised its shareholders to contact their stockbrokers for more details about the offer.

Access Holdings said that it remained committed to its strategic vision of expanding its footprint and delivering exceptional value to all its stakeholders.

It noted that the successful execution of the rights Issue would further solidify the group’s position as a leading financial services provider in Africa and beyond.(NAN)

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Business News

Nigeria Spends $600m Annually on Palm Oil Importation

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The National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN), says Nigeria spends 600 million dollars on palm oil importation annually.

Mr Alphonsus Inyang, National President of the association stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

He  described the expenses as unhealthy for national development.

Inyang said the samount could be saved and injected into the economy if the palm oil sub-sector was given due attention by successive governments.

The president said that Nigeria  which was self sufficient in palm oil production in time past,  now spends  huge amount to import same product.

Inyang said in the 60s, Nigeria was number one in palm oil  production and exportation globally, controlling over 60 per cent of world palm oil.

He said that the reverse was the case at the moment as over 50 per cent of what “we consume are imported,”he said.

Inyang said at the moment the country occupies fifth position in the league of palm oil  producing countries after Indonesia, Malaysia,Thailand and Colombia.

According to him, Nigeria may lose the position to smaller countries who are investing heavily in the sector.

He said  Indonesia occupies the first position,  producing 50 million metric tons, Malaysia second with 19 million metric tons, Thailand 3.28 million and Colombia 1.9 million metric tons.

The president attributed the challenge to the negelect of the sector by successive governments.

Inyang said based on the U.S.  Department of Agriculture, Nigeria currently occupy fifth position in the league of palm oil producing countries with 1.5 per cent or 1.4 million metric tons of the world’s total output.

“Nigeria was overthrown as the world’s largest palm oil producer and exporter by Malaysia and Indonesia in 1966.

“Currently Nigeria is the largest consumer of the product in the continent, consuming approximately three million metric tons yearly.

“Domestic production stands at less than 1.4 million metric tons, leaving a deficit of over 1.6 million metric tones,’’ he said.

Inyang urged government, specifically the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to support NPPAN members  with seedlings to develop 250,000 hectares per year.

“Our members can plant up to 250,000 hectares per year through the association’s National Oil Palm Strategy Development Plan , all we want are inputs.

“Government does not need to give and develop land for us, we need seedlings, fertilisers, logistics and implements to close this gab within four years.

“We will also create new millionaires in 28 states of the federation, “he said. (NAN)

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