FG Sued Over Alleged Discriminatory Practices 

Power generation companies in the country have taken the Federal Government before the Federal High Court in Abuja over what they described as discriminatory practices against their interest and those of the supplier of gas.

In their suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/180/2018 before Justice Binta Nyako, the firms accused the Federal Government of conferring preferential treatment on Azura Power West Africa Limited and Accugas Limited at their own expense.

They claimed that government’s discriminatory practices were taking a toll not only on the Nigerian supply of electricity butalso on the whole power sector of the nation.

The generation firms, which jointly sued the Federal Government, are Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited, Transcorp Power Limited, Egbin Power Plc and North-South Power Company Limited.

They joined as respondents the Federal Government; Central Bank of Nigeria; Minister of Power, Works and Housing; and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc.

Also joined as respondents in the suit are Azura Power West Africa Limited and Accugas Limited.

The Gencos claimed that despite making sacrifices by continuing to generate electricity for the national grid without getting payment from the NBET, the defendants had treated and intended to continue to treat them, their investors and suppliers unfairly.

They claimed to be facing the threat of going into extinction on account of “huge indebtedness to banks and financiers, who provided the foreign currency-denominated acquisition loans with which the power plants were acquired from the Federal Government during the privatisation exercise in 2012/13.”

The firms alleged that the NBET had consistently defaulted in paying them for the electricity generated and put on the national grid in breach of its contractual obligation.

According to them, the contractual obligation is to the effect that “the Gencos would be paid fully (100 per cent) not later than 45 days of invoice submission, and upon delay in payment, be paid with interest at the agreed rate.”

They claimed that by reason of the failure of the NBET to pay, the firms had in turn been forced to default in meeting their obligations to their lenders, O&M contractors, equipment manufacturers, service providers and other persons and entities engaged by them for the purpose of ensuring the smooth and effectual generation of power in all power plants owned, controlled and/or managed by the Gencos.

Justice Nyako has fixed April 16, 2018 to entertain the suit.



FG Seeks Chinese Bank’s Support For Infrastructure Funding

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Monday met with a delegation from the China Development Bank to discuss areas where the lender could help out the country.

The meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the finance ministry, was attended by the Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Mahmoud Dutse, and top officials of the China Development Bank led by its Vice Chairman/President, Zheng Zhijie.

Zhijie explained that the meeting was a back up to the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to China in April 2016, where an understanding was reached to deepen the level of bilateral relationship between the two countries

He said since then, the level of trade relationship between China and Nigeria had been on the increase, adding that the visit of the bank’s officials was part of measures to deepen the relationship.

Adeosun, while addressing the bank officials, said the Federal Government was working hard to reposition the economy by addressing the infrastructure gap.

She described the bank as an important partner to galvanise the needed funds for Nigeria in key sectors of the economy such as power, rail and roads.

The minister said with a huge balance sheet size, the China Development Bank had the needed funding to finance any project.

She stated, “China Development Bank is a very important bank with a large balance sheet and a track record in funding major projects and we are very excited to have you here. We are repositioning the Nigerian economy and we are opening up opportunities in a number of areas such as power, infrastructure, agriculture and exports.

“We want to grow the economy and create jobs for our people, and of course, that means capital. We have a very good relationship with China and we have very strong commitment from China at the highest level of your support.

“What we hope we will be doing are the specifics of how to get the China Development Bank to actively close some of the transactions that you are looking at and we are interested in partnering with you.”

FG Warns NNPC To Clear Petrol Queue Before Sunday

The Federal Government on Thursday said it had instructed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should make sure the queues are off Abuja and neighbouring states before the start of the 2018 Nigeria International Petroleum Summit.

It also stated that the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and some of its agencies were working out measures that would ensure the fuel price doesn’t go off the N145 per litre despite a landing cost of about N171 per litre.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, told journalists at a press conference in Abuja that having guests see the queues would be embarrassing. The 2018 NIPS begins on Sunday.

He said, “As for the fuel queues that you see out there, we are working round the clock; the NNPC is also working round the clock on this. If you remember when it first started in December (2017), it was a lot more massive, but Lagos is largely fuel queue free and a lot of the state capitals are.

“Abuja is still struggling because of some logistics issues. We’ve instructed the NNPC to do whatever it takes to ensure that I do not bring visitors here next week and they will experience fuel queues. They (NNPC) will have to do whatever it takes to get this eliminated in Abuja and that is the directive I’ll be sending to the NNPC.

“Let them (NNPC) work night and day and put a lot more effort in trying to do this. But I can tell you that behind the scenes, a lot of meetings are taking place. This is because the fuel queue issue is both a logistics and a policy issue.”

The minister stated that the government would need to address the fundamental policy issues to enable the queues go away, “especially in an area where the pricing puts pressure between the landing price and the sale price.”

Kachikwu said, “So, we need to work out ways to see what we need to do to continue to sell at N145 per litre. The President is obviously very committed to keeping the price of fuel at the cost where it is. We don’t intend to increase the price again and so we need to work backwards, and this requires a lot of efficiency re-engineering.

“So, give a bit of time, be patient, but I do take your point. I will hate it for my colleagues to come here and see fuel queues happening and so my directive for the NNPC will be whatever it takes, get those queues out of Abuja over the period.”

On the falling cost of crude in the international market as a result of the rising sale of shale oil, Kachikwu noted that the government was not ruffled by the development.

He said, “In terms of the price of petroleum products, I don’t think we need to be panicky about it. We are not ruffled by it and I know it has come down to around $60 per barrel now. Shale is going to be active. Whenever we are in excess of $65, shale becomes very active.

“But I’ve always said that two things need to happen. First, OPEC needs to just focus on itself and focus on what it needs to do and forget what is happening in shale. The second thing is that every OPEC producer must work hard to be a least cost producer. Because the truth is that if shale can be produced at $65, then there is absolutely no reason why we should be struggling.”

He added, “So, the fundamentals of our earnings, how efficient we are and our cost of production are the things we have to do internally.

“There should be fundamental rejigging of production models to ensure that you get the very best. One nice thing about low prices is that they force everybody to abandon high cost of production.”

On refineries, Kachikwu said before the end of March this year, the government would sign the requisite contracts that would lead to the re-kitting of the facilities.

This, however, will happen if the President gives the required approval, according to the minister.

Solar-Powered Mini Grids Built By FG, EU In Five States

The Federal Government, in partnership with the European Union and Germany, has announced under the Nigerian Energy Support Programme the construction of solar-powered mini grids in five states of the federation.


Six solar mini-grids are currently being supported by the programme to provide electricity to residents of Ogun, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto and Cross River states according to the NESP




It was disclosed to our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, announcing the latest rural electrification programme undertaken by the EU and Germany in Sokoto State.


The agency stated that as part of the rural electrification programme, an 80kWp solar mini-grid project had successfully been completed in Kurdula, Gudu Local Government Area of Sokoto State and would be inaugurated today (Friday).


It noted that through the project funded by the European Union and the German government via the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, more than 4,000 people would benefit from clean electricity in Sokoto State.


It said, “The Kurdula solar mini grid is one of six such projects currently supported by the Nigerian Energy Support Programme. Altogether, the projects will provide electricity to more than 10,000 people across five states of Ogun, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto and Cross River.


“It has been implemented by GIZ together with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the Sokoto State Government and a private company, GoSolar.”


It stated that through the NESP, the European Union and the German government were supporting the FMPWH and other relevant stakeholders in Nigeria’s power sector to ensure that energy solutions such as the mini-grid approach could be replicated and scaled up.


The agency said, “An additional 100,000 rural inhabitants in several states across Nigeria will receive support from the programme until 2020. The NESP is a €24.5m technical assistance programme launched to promote investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and rural electrification.


“The NESP is co-funded by the European Union and the German government via the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and is jointly implemented by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.”

JP Morgan Sued For Sum Of $875m Over Malabu Oilfield Deal




A claim against a United States lender, JP Morgan Chase has been filed by the Federal Government for more than $875m, accusing the bank of neglect and carelessness in the  funds transfer  from a disputed 2011 oilfield deal to a company controlled by a former Nigerian minister of petroleum resources.


A spokeswoman for JP Morgan dismissed the accusation on Thursday, saying the firm “considers the allegations made in the claim to be unsubstantiated and without merit.” This was according to a Reuters’ report.




The suit filed in a British court relates to a purchase of the offshore OPL 245 oilfield in Nigeria by oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in 2011.


At the core of the case is a $1.3bn payment from Shell and Eni to secure the block that the lawsuit said was deposited into a Federal Government’s escrow account managed by JP Morgan.


The lawsuit said JP Morgan then received a request from the finance ministry workers to transfer more than $800m of the funds to accounts controlled by the previous operator of the block, Malabu Oil and Gas, controlled by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete.


The lawsuit said that JP Morgan then transferred the funds to two accounts controlled by Etete, without sufficient due diligence to make sure the money did not leave accounts controlled by the Federal Government.


Reuters was unable to reach either Etete or Malabu for comments.


The filing seen by Reuters was made in London in November last year on behalf of Nigeria, and said that JP Morgan acted with gross negligence by allowing the transfer of the money without further checks.


It said JP Morgan should have known that, under Nigerian law, the money should never have been transferred to an outside company.


“If the defendant acted with reasonable care and skill and/or conducted reasonable due diligence, it would or should have known or at least suspected … that it was being asked to transfer funds to third parties who were seeking to misappropriate the funds from the claimant and/or that there was a significant risk that this was the case,” the filing said.




Late last year, a Milan judge ruled that Shell and Eni must stand trial in Italy, where Eni is headquartered, for a separate legal case in which Milan prosecutors alleged bribes were paid to Etete and others as part of the same oilfield deal, including money that went to Etete’s Malabu.


Both Eni and Shell have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in relation to that case. Malabu has never commented on the case.


Shell last year said it knew some of its payment to the Nigerian government as part of the deal would go to Malabu “to settle its claim on the block”, but that it was a legal transaction.



There are also ongoing investigations regarding the deal in Nigeria and the Netherlands, where Shell is based.


Meanwhile, the US regulator, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, had in December fined JPMorgan $2.8m for improper safeguarding of Nigerian securities.


JPMorgan Chase & Co reportedly paid a $2.8m fine to the US regulator to settle charges that its broker-dealer unit lacked sufficient controls to safeguard customer securities from several countries including Nigeria over more than eight years.

FG Redeploys Nine Permanent Secretaries

The Federal Government on Friday approved the redeployment of nine Federal Permanent Secretaries.

The affected government officials include those who were inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

“The processes for handing/taking over should be completed on or before Monday, 8th January, 2018,” the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winnifred Oyo-Ita, said in a statement announcing their redeployment.

According to her, Aminu Bisalla was redeployed from General Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, while Aliboh Lawrence was moved to the Special Duties Office, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

Other affected permanent secretaries are Odewale Olajide, who was moved from SDO-OHCSF to Budget and National Planning; and Dr. Umar Bello, who was retained in his Special Services Office, OSGF position.

Four of the newly appointed permanent secretaries, Sulaiman Lawal, was deployed to Career Management Office (OHCSF); Adekunle Adeyemi, GSO- OSGF; Ekaro Chukwumuebodo, Federal Civil Service Commission; Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu to Mines and Steel Development; and Osuji Marcellinus to Service Policy and Strategies Office.

VAID: No Going Back On March Deadline – FG

Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has declared that there will be no extension of the March 2018 deadline for individuals and companies to comply with Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAID).

This comes amidst calls by concerned stakeholders for the extension of the set deadline of granting tax amnesty to defaulters.

Fowler, who said the federal government was seemingly overwhelmed by the huge number of tax defaulters to prosecute, noted that extending the date would not make individuals and corporate organisations bent on not honouring the June 2017 directive comply.

Then acting president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, had while inaugurating the FIRS-initiated VAID, given nine-month grace to defaulting taxpayers to regularise their tax status or face criminal prosecution for tax evasion.

“This programme will not be extended. It is the federal government’s initiative. It was adopted by the Senate, the House of Representatives,” he remarked yesterday at a one-day seminar for tax professionals.

“I think people who have an intention to do the right thing, even if you give them six months, they will perform within six months, three or four months. But for individuals and corporate organisations that have no intention to do the right thing, even if you give them 10 years, they will not conform within that period.”

Fowler’s statement was a response to the president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Mr. Cyril Ede, who had requested the federal government to extend the March deadline to September 2018 to enable more taxpayers to comply with the directive.

According to Mr Ede, “There is need for government to consider extending this programme, if need be, to allow for more individuals and corporate entities to comply. We, as an institute, are asking that the deadline of March 2018 be shifted to September 2018.”

He cited the case of South Africa between 2015 and 2016 which, he said, had a better tax compliance than Nigeria but still gave 11 months as grace period for compliance to tax amnesty.

However, the FIRS boss urged the participants who thronged NICON Luxury Hotel, venue of the event, to advise their clients that even if they declared their assets, it does not mean they have to make payment on the same day.

“They are still given time for them to prepare themselves. There are certain issues that would be discussed. There are possibilities of extending the payment plan subject to the approval of the taxing authority – whether it is federal or the state. There are also different ways that you can cushion the effect of these payments. And we have to realise and remember that you only pay tax on profits of income,” he explained.

FG Moves to Seize BVN-less Accounts

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja has granted a request by Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, for a temporary forfeiture of all funds held in bank accounts not linked to BVNs.

Also to be forfeited are funds in accounts whose ownership could not be identified.

The latter are accounts without sufficient know-your-customer credentials, PREMIUM TIMES has reported. .

The order followed an originating motion of notice filed by Mr. Malami on behalf of the Nigerian government on September 28.

Justice Dimgba granted all the nine reliefs sought by Mr. Malami —himself represented by a lawyer, Usman Dakas— on October 17.

The court ordered all the 19 deposit money banks, DMBs, operating in the country to release to Nigerian government names of accounts not yet connected to BVN; account numbers; their outstanding balances; domiciling locations; and domiciliary accounts without BVN and where they are domiciled.

Nigeria deposit money banks that were listed as respondents in the ex-parte suit are: Access Bank, Citi Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank and First City Monument Bank.

Others are: Guaranty Trust Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank and United Bank for Africa.

The remaining three are: Unity, Bank Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

The court also ordered all of them to disclose any investments made with funds and to withhold authorisation for any outward inflow of funds from the accounts. All the details are to be submitted to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBSS, and the CBN for authentication.

The banks were also directed to publish all bank accounts not linked to BVN in national newspapers with a 14-day notice for individuals with interest in such accounts to come forward and justify why their funds should not be forfeited to the Nigerian government.

Mr. Dimgba also ordered the CBN, which was joined as 20th respondent alongside the 19 DMBs, to appoint an official who will examine all the details submitted to the apex bank for compliance.

The government argued the matter under Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011.

The section said banks must “ensure that documents, data or information collected under the customer due diligence process is kept up-to-date and relevant by undertaking reviews of existing records, particularly for higher risk categories of customers or business relationships.”

The Bank Verification Number is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.

The CBN imposed the policy to capture customers’ data for financial transactions and check fraud in the banking system.

Registration for BVNs commenced on February 14, 2014, across the country. The CBN said over 20.8 million customers enrolled 40 million bank accounts before the October 31, 2015, final deadline for customers residing within the country.

The CBN extended the deadline for Nigerians in the diaspora to December 2016 to sign up for the BVN system. But hundreds of thousands home and abroad are still believed to be left behind.


Society Advises FG To Invest In Biotechnology To Achieve Food Security

President of Biotechnology Society of Nigeria, Prof. Benjamin Ubi  has advised the Federal Government to invest massively in Biotechnology to achieve food security and avert the impending food crisis across the globe.

The advice was fiven as  keynote lecture by Ubi at the Biotechnology awareness week and capacity building workshop in Umuahia.

The forum was organised by the Centre for Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), Abia.

The president of the society said that the rising global population and the growing impact of global warming and climate change posed serious adverse effect on agriculture production all over the world, hence the need to check the development.

Ubi, a Professor of Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, Ebonyi State University, said that sub-Sahara Africa “is highly threatened by hunger and malnutrition.”

He said that although Nigeria was not yet in the danger zone, “the country is presently at moderately high hunger.” adding that urgent measures became imperative to develop the nation’s diverse food crops through biotechnology.

He said, “Nigeria is lucky because it has a diversity of food crops but we should not be lazy, rather, we should find ways to develop and harness the crops for greater economic benefits and nutritional value.”

The professor said that with biotechnology, Nigeria could achieve improved crop variety with the resultant high agricultural yield.

In an address of welcome, the Acting Director of the institute, Dr Emmanuel Ekundayo, said that “Biotechnology is changing the world of science and the way of life of human beings around the world.”

Ekundayo further said, “Modern biotechnology is creating breakthrough products and technologies to combat debilitating and rare diseases, feed the hungry, reduce environmental footprint, use less and cleaner energy.’’

According to him, modern biotechnology also ensures ‘’safer, cleaner and more efficient industrial manufacturing processes.”

He said that at least, “13.3million farmers around the world used agricultural biotechnology to increase yields, prevent damage from insects and pests and reduce the farming impact on the environment.

Ekundayo, however, expressed concern that the level of knowledge and capacity to achieve a breakthrough in producing biotechnology was pitifully low in Nigeria.

He listed the challenges limiting progress in biotechnology in Nigeria to include “intellectual apathy, the paucity of facilities to do research in biotechnology and the low level of awareness about the potentialities of biotechnology.”

He also called for investment in biotechnology, especially in the establishment of functional centres of excellence in biotechnology in the universities and research institutes across the country.

Ekundayo, who said that forward-looking nations of the world were investing massively in biotechnology, called on the government to take a cue from such countries toward the development of modern Biotechnology.
“Capability in modern biotechnology will be a major factor for economic competitiveness in the 21st Century.”

He said that the workshop was “designed to stimulate interest and promote knowledge about biotechnology in MOUAU and its environs in line with the mandate of the centre.”

In a goodwill message to the workshop, Prof. Joseph Ukpabi, the Acting Executive Director, National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike, described the potential of biotechnology as enormous.

Ukpabi was represented by a Director in the institute, Dr Ifeoma Ukwuonu.

He said that the institute had acquired “decades of experience in the application of modern biotechnology tools in breeding, seed multiplication, disease diagnosis, food chemistry and industrial applications.”

He also said the institute was ready to collaborate with MOUAU and other institutions in research on biotechnology that would be of mutual interest and for the nation’s economic viability.
The Vice-Chancellor of MOUAU, Prof. Francis Otunta, expressed the hope that the workshop would come up with recommendations that would help in the development of biotechnology in the university.

He was represented by the Deputy VC (Academic), Prof. Madu Iwe.

The Chairman of the opening ceremony and Director, MOUAU Extension Centre, Prof. Ike Nwachukwu, commended the centre for organising the programme.

He said that the recommendations that would emanate from the workshop would be beneficial to farmers, Nigeria and humanity in general.

Nwachukwu described the theme of the workshop, ‘’Biotechnology: Key to sustainable food security,’’ as apt, in view of the current challenges facing agriculture and the environment.

Mr Rice Urges FG To Address Power, Infrastructural Deficit In the Country

Mr. John Rice, General Electric (GE), Vice Chairman, has told the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency address the infrastructure challenges the country is facing as Nigerians can’t wait forever.

He said “nothing else matters” other than that Nigeria should fix its power, transport and other basic infrastructure.

Mr. Rice made the remark during a panel discussion with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Mr. Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings at the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit.

Apart from several energy projects GE is currently undertaking in-country, it recently won the concession rights to all the narrow gauge tracks in Nigeria – from Lagos to Kano and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri. He said GE has been investing in Nigeria because of its human capital resource, the size of the country and natural resources.

He said GE has been investing in Nigeria because of its human capital resource, the size of the country and natural resources.

FG Approves Sales Of Three NIPPs

The Federal Government’s plan to sell part of the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs), the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) has disclosed the government’s approval to sell three power plants.

The said plants are the 634 megawatts (MW) Calabar, 1,076MW combined cycle Alaoji, and 506MW Geregu.

Managing Director of NDPHC, Mr Chiedu Ugbo made the disclosure at the 20th monthly power sector meeting hosted by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) at the Z05 Injection Substation along Owerri-Onitsha Road, Owerri, Imo State.

Ugbo explained that the challenges that stalled the sales had largely been cleared and were now ready to be privatised.

He noted that preferred bidders for the plants were still very interested in them as against thought that they might have lost interest.

Ugbo said: “This privatisation process started in 2012 and moved to 2013 with the emergence of the preferred bidders. At that time it was a mix of market issues and internal issues that had to do with gas supply, completion of the power plants and evacuation.

“NIPP has the mandate to build and sell. It is a project company so the sale will affect the 10 power plants ultimately.

“We have received approval to start with three; that is Calabar, Geregu and Alaoji. Discussions have advanced; except for market issues, liquidity problems, we would have closed by now.”

He noted that the company on its part was trying to resolve all issues impeding on privatisation, adding that “Once we get the necessary approvals we close the sale.”

The MD further noted that most of the company’s community-related projects were at various stages of completion with a focus on key priority projects.

The projects he listed include Olorunsogo, Omotosho, Ikot Ekpene-Afam, Egbema, Okija and Ihiala.

“Typically we give updates on some of the projects we are doing. Every project is important, but there are key priority projects that the minister is focusing on and is saying that we must complete.

“The projects cut across the states, but if you allow me, I will start from Ogun State. We have a number of projects including transmission projects in Ogun State from Ota, Papalanto to Abeokuta and that project is 35 percent complete; and we are putting finishing touches now before commissioning.

“We also have some distribution projects works in Olorunsogo – Papalanto area who are the host communities for our 750MW power plant. We are also working to ensure that they have supplied. The work has advanced, we should be done by end of this year.”