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OPL 245: Judge indicts Shell, ENI



An Italian judge, Giusy Barbara, found yesterday that Eni and Royal Dutch Shell were fully aware that their 2011 purchase of Nigeria’s Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL 245) would result in corrupt payments to Nigerian politicians and officials.

Italy’s Eni and Shell bought the OPL 245 offshore field for about $1.3 billion from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited owned by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Dan Etete, in a deal that spawned one of the oil industry’s largest corruption scandals.

It was alleged that about $1.1 billion of the money paid for the oil block was siphoned to agents and middlemen.
The Milan judge made the comment in her written reasons for the September conviction of a Nigerian, Mr. Emeka Obi and Italian, Gianluca Di Nardo, both middlemen in the OPL 245 deal, for corruption.

They were jailed for four years.
“The management of oil companies Eni and Shell … were fully aware of the fact that part of the $1.092 billion paid would have been used to compensate Nigerian public officials who had a role in this matter and who were circling their prey like hungry sharks,” Barbara said in her reasoning.

“It was not mere connivance, but a conscious adhesion to a predatory project damaging the Nigerian state,” she added.
She also said money was given to some Eni managers.
Obi and Di Nardo have been tried separately from Eni and Shell, which also face corruption allegations over the same deal in a hearing that is expected to drag on for months.

But responding to the judge’s remarks, Eni said it would analyze the remarks, noting that a fuller account of the facts and evidence surrounding the deal would emerge only from the main trial.

The Italian company has previously denied any wrongdoing.
Eni shares fell slightly on the judge’s remarks but quickly recovered ground. Shell stock was barely changed.

Under the deal, Eni and Shell jointly acquired the OPL 245 field from a company owned by former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete who, the judge noted, had been put under investigation in 2003 in France for alleged money-laundering.
Shell also said yesterday that neither Obi nor Di Nardo had worked for it and that there was no basis to convict it or any of its former staff of alleged offenses related to the oil deal.

Eni Chief Executive, Claudio Descalzi, and four ex-Shell managers, including former Shell’s Head of Upstream, Malcolm Brinded, are also accused of international corruption in the main trial.

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Ganduje proposes death penalty for kidnappers



Kano State is set to introduce the death penalty for kidnapping in its penal code as child abductions and trafficking worsen. Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on Thursday directed the state Ministry of Justice to immediately amend the Penal Code to add capital punishment for kidnappers.

Ganduje spoke while inaugurating a 16-man Commission of Inquiry on nine children kidnapped in Kano and sold in Onitsha, Anambra State.

The panel is headed by retired Justice Umar Wada Rano. Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) chairman Rev. Adeolu Samuel Adeyemo, who wept at the inauguration, is a member.

The commission is to submit its report in 30 days.

Ganduje offered graduate scholarship and N1 million each to the victims’ parents.

He condemned the act, describing it as wicked.

The governor said what the kidnappers and human traffickers did was against the tenets of Islam and Christianity.

The committee’s terms of references read: “To conduct an enquiry into cases of missing persons in Kano State from the year 2010 to date and to procure all such evidence, written or oral, and to examine all such persons as witnesses as the commissioners may think it necessary or desirable to procure or examine.

“To summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the commission to give evidence or produce any documents and to require the evidence (whether written or oral) of any witness to be made on oath or declaration.

“To admit or exclude the public or any member of the public or press from any hearing of the commission, to prepare comprehensive data of missing persons in Kano State within the period and circumstances in which they disappeared.

“To find out both immediate and remote causes of cases of missing persons and to prepare and submit a written report, including findings and recommendations to the Government of Kano State.”

The Commission is also expected to hear from the victims or their relatives, collect written or oral evidence and visits sites (as the case may be) where the victims may have been taken to.

It is to come up with recommendations on how to eradicate “such wicked act”.

The Governor urged the Council of Ulamas (“the learned ones”) to facilitate the rescued children’s re-orientation, saying they were robbed of their childhood.

The Solicitor-General Amina Yusuf Yar Gaya administered the oath on the committee’s members.

Rev. Adeyemo, broke down in tears while speaking after their inauguration.

He condemned the act of child kidnapping and disassociated CAN from such dastardly act.

He said: “As I sit here today, I see the gravity of the sin committed by the perpetrators of this crime. I have seen the harm done to the parents because I am a parent.

“I was touched, very touched when we learnt about the rescue of these kidnapped children. It broke my heart and my heart is still broken. This is a crime against humanity which is condemned by God.

“In the Bible, it is not permitted to separate a child from the mother until the age of 13. This is an evil punishable in the sight of God. Those people who committed this crime are not Christians and do not represent the tenets of Christianity.

“Kano is a mini-Nigeria and we want to thank Governor Ganduje for making Kano a home for all. Nobody kidnaps for Christ. CAN condemns this act and Christians all over the world condemn it.”

Igwe Ibekwe said the issue was worrisome and condemnable.

He said: “Whatever is bad is bad. This is not only a taboo; it is a criminal matter that must be tackled. The Igbo community in Kano has not experienced this kind of thing.

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Court orders Lagos Assembly to leave Ambode alone



An Ikeja High Court on Wednesday ordered the Lagos State House of Assembly to maintain status quo in the ongoing investigation of former Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

This is just as Ambode’s lawyer, who had appeared at the Assembly complex for the sitting of the joint committee of the House probing expenditures of the ex-governor, was not allowed into the venue of the sitting of the committee.

The joint committee has, however, adjoined its probe of Ambode indefinitely in deference to the court’s ruling that status-quo should be maintained.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya gave the order while ruling on an ex parte motion filed by Ambode through his counsel, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN.

The court had on Tuesday ordered Oyetibo to put the respondents on notice before hearing all applications.

This is contrary to earlier reports that the court ordered respondents to appear in court yesterday.

When Oyetibo applied to move the ex parte motion dated October 28 on Tuesday, Justice Adesanya declined.
She said she would rather hear the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction on their merits, directing service of the originating processes, accompanying processes and all pending applications on the 1st to the 12th defendants.

The respondents are the Lagos State House of Assembly, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa; House Clerk, Mr. A.A Sanni; Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed and members of the Committee. They are: Gbolahan Yishawu, A.A Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M.L Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T.A Adewale and O.S Afinni.

During resumed proceedings for interlocutory injunction filed by the former governor dated October 28, 2019, before the court yesterday, his counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) confirmed service on the respondents as earlier directed by the court.

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$9.6b judgment: CCB gets petition against ex-CJN Belgore



Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has received a petition on former Chief of Justice of Nigeria Alfa Belgore. Belgore was accused of testifying against the country in favour of Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), which secured a $9.6b arbitral award against Nigeria.

The petition was filed by Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), whose Chairman, Comrade Suraj Olanrewaju, was invited by the CCB to adopt the petition on oath.

The CCB demanded evidence of any alleged infraction that might have been committed by Justice Belgore from HEDA.

The group accused Belgore of alleged conflict of interest and violation of Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution.

It added: “Based on the foregoing, it is succinct to point out the basis for this petition. From the above relayed, there is a clear case of conflict of interest which is backed up constitutionally by the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. Specifically, Section 1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which states that a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.

“Section 5 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution goes further and directly prohibits former presidents, vice presidents, Chief Justices of Nigeria, governors and Deputy Governors from working for foreign companies or enterprises. The former CJN falls under this category and also is still the chairman of the National Merit Honour Award Committee, which confers him with a sense of patriotism and loyalty to the country.

“It can be concluded, without equivocation, that drafters of the Constitution understand the weight of the offices occupied by the prohibited officers and the potential implication of actions such as that taken by the former CJN.

“The act he allegedly committed is grave and amounts to a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, thereby violating the provisions of the Constitution.

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$9.6bn Judgment Debt:Nigeria heads for UK Appeal Court



The battle between Nigeria and Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) over the bid to stop the company from attaching the country’s assets to recoup the $9.6 billion arbitral claim it secured last month, is set to shift to the United Kingdom Appeal Court.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Thursday signified the intention of the federal government to head to the UK Appeal Court shortly after the UK Commercial Court ordered a stay of execution of the $9.6 billion claim, arising from a failed gas deal between the two parties which led to arbitration.

Mr. Justice Butcher had last month affirmed the arbitral claim but fixed yesterday for hearing of an application by P&ID seeking the leave of the court to attach some assets of Nigeria for a seizure to recoup the $9.6 billion arbitral claim.

It was, however, learnt that the claim would have hit a double-digit mark as interest on the original $6.5 billion the arbitration panel granted P&ID, which ballooned to $9.6 billion in August when the UK court affirmed the arbitral award, is being calculated at the rate of $1.2 million daily, minus weekends.

In its ruling yesterday, the court, which, however, upheld the claim and refused Nigeria’s plea to set it aside, said the suspension of its decision to grant P&ID’s request to seize Nigerian assets would last till the determination of the appeal by the federal government.

It, however, asked the government to make a security payment of $200million to the court within 60 days.

But Malami said besides seeking to quash the company’s bid to make any claim, Nigeria would also consider the possibility of challenging the legality of the $200 million security deposit within the 60-day window.

P&ID secured the damages against Nigeria following a failed Gas Supply Project Agreement (GSPA) contract between it and the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Malami, in a brief from London, sent to reporters in Abuja, said: “Leave to appeal has been granted. Stay of execution is also granted subject to payment of $200m security payment to court pending the determination of the appeal the leave for which has been granted by the commercial court.

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