President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an immediate probe of past administrations over the $9 billion (N3.5 trillion) debt judgment involving Nigeria and British Firm – Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID).
The disclosure was just made at a joint press briefing in Abuja by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed alongside the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
The details: President Buhari ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Intelligence Agency( NIA) and the Inspector-General of Police to probe the criminal conspiracy behind the failed contract.
While delivering the President’s Speech, the Minister for Information and Culture disclosed that the decision was based on the fact that the Federal Government suspected foul play in the contract which was negotiated and signed in 2010.
Muhammed stated the following;
“We have invited you here today to brief you on the recent judgment of a UK Court authorizing Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. (P&ID) to seize 9.6 billion dollars in Nigerian assets, over a contract entered into by the company and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in 2010.
“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.”
Nigerian assets’ Seizure: Meanwhile, the Presidency has also dismissed the impending seizure of Nigerian assets. Recall, in a document released on Monday by a section of the media, the firm hinted it has initiated moves to identify assets to can seize belonging to Nigeria.
Addressing the development, Muhammed stated that Nigeria was not about to lose any of its assets. The minister 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.
Nairametrics learned that the probe may cover both the former President Good luck Jonathan’s administration and his predecessor – Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Commenting on the development at the press briefing, the Minister of Finance, stated that the judgment cannot stand as this constitutes about N3.5trillion.
Union Bank Nigeria Plc issues disclaimer against purported sale of owner’s stake
Union Bank has rejected claims that its majority shareholder, Atlas Mara is considering selling its 50% stake.
The Union Bank of Nigeria Plc has today issued a disclaimer against an unsubstantiated publication by one of Nigeria’s leading online news site, that its principal owner is considering selling its 50% stake in the firm.
The disclaimer was signed by the bank’s secretary, Somuyiwa Sonubi and sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, as seen by Nairametrics.
Recall that a few days ago, some online news website had reported that Union Bank’s principal owner, Atlas Mara is considering selling its stake in the firm, after receiving bids from local banks. The report has it that Atlas Mara engaged the services of a financial advisor, Rothschild & Co to consider the deal.
In a bid to shed more light on the issue and allay the fears of stakeholders, Union Bank dismissed the claims, describing it as a mere ‘rumour and speculation’. It went further to advise relevant stakeholders which comprises of the members of the public, its customers, NSE and other regulatory bodies to disregard the speculation in its entirety.
Corroborating the stand maintained by the bank, Atlas Mara also rejected the report. It clarified the issue of contracting external advisers, noting that it was in line with the Board’s decision to explore a wide range of strategic options.
An excerpt of the disclaimer issued by the firm reads: “While it is the Company’s practice to refrain from comment on market rumours or speculation, we believe it is important to note that Atlas Mara has not received any offers from any local Nigerian bank or other bank wishing to acquire the Company’s stake in Union Bank of Nigeria (“UBN”). As previously announced to the market in 2019, the Board of the Company has been exploring a wide range of strategic options with the assistance of external advisers. That process is still underway and the Company’s strategic objectives have not changed.’’
What you should know
- Atlas Mara is currently the biggest shareholder in Union Bank of Nigeria, with a stake of 49.97% (approximately 50%).
- Union Bank Nigeria Plc share price closed trading today, January 27, 2021 at N5.7, down by 3.39%. It also has a market capitalization of about N165.99 billion.
- Based on the current market capitalization, the stake of Atlas Mara translates to approximately N82.9 billion.
House of Reps Speaker assures that the PIB will be passed in April 2021
Femi Gbajabiamila has revealed that the lower legislative chamber intends to pass the PIB in April 2021.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has revealed that the lower legislative chamber intends to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in April 2021.
The assurance by the Speaker follows so many years of delay in the passage of the bill, which is expected to encourage investment into the oil industry, due to political disagreements and objections from International Oil Companies.
This disclosure was made by Gbajabiamila, while speaking at the 2-day public hearing organized by the house Adhoc committee on PIB on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.
The Speaker pointed out that although the timeframe for the passage of the Bill is short, he assured that it will receive the thoroughness it deserves and as well, made a commitment on behalf of the house to pass the legislation in April.
What the Speaker House of Representatives is saying
Gbajabiamila, in his statement, said, ‘’I thank the Chairman and the committee for the dedication and efforts thus far. I have confidence that they will deliver on this critical National Assignment within the time we have set. I look forward to presiding over the consideration of the committee’s report.’’
“We intend to pass this bill by April. That is the commitment we have made. Some may call it a tall order, but we will do it and we will do it with every sense of responsibility without compromising the thoroughness of the work that will be done.’’
‘’A lot of work has gone into the preparation of this bill but it’s not straight-jacketed, the idea of the public hearing is to have interests that may have not been accommodated prior to the introduction to the Bill to lend their voices,’’ he added.
While speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of the Adnoc Committee on PIB, who is also the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, said that as we gather here today, we may differ in opinions and background but the truth is the passage of this Bill is long overdue.
What you should know
- It can be recalled that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had a few days ago while speaking at the 2-day public hearing organized by the senate on the PIB, said the upper legislative chamber is looking at passing the Bill in April or May.
- He noted that the non-passage of the PIB had been a major drag on the industry over the years, significantly limiting its ability to attract both local and foreign capital at a time that when other countries are scrambling to exploit their oil and gas resources.
- The PIB is a Bill that seeks to provide Legal, Governance, Regulatory Fiscal Framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry.
- On November 24, 2020, the PIB was debated, it passed the second reading and then referred to the Adhoc, Committee on the Bill.
“I thank the chairman/the committee for the dedication and efforts thus far. I have confidence that they will deliver on this critical National Assignment within the time we have set. I look forward to presiding over the consideration of the committee’s report” ——@femigbaja pic.twitter.com/9ompuZlvbZ
— House of Reps NGR (@HouseNGR) January 27, 2021
NASS directs Health Ministry to suspend disbursing N10bn on Covid-19 vaccine production
NASS has ordered the Ministry of Health to suspend expenditures regarding the N10 billion released for funding of Covid-19 vaccines.
The National Assembly has asked the Federal Ministry of Health to suspend further action on plans to spend the sum of N10 billion released by the Federal Ministry of Finance to fund the production of Covdi-19 vaccines.
This follows the dissatisfaction of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Health with the explanation of the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on how to utilize the N10 billion.
According to a report from Channels, this disclosure was made by the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, during an interaction between members of the committee and the representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Ehanire was at the meeting with other representatives which includes the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, and the Director-General of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency Faisal Shuaib.
What the Chairman National Assembly Joint Committee on Health is saying
Oloriegebe said the committee is dissatisfied with the explanation of the Minister and has directed that the money should not be spent until the Ministry can state clearly, what the money will be used for.
He said, “This N10billion is just given to you, with due respect, with what you have given to us, you don’t have a specific detailed plan for it. Our decision, for now, is that you can’t spend it (the money) until you provide us with a satisfactory answer. Once you provide us with the details then we will invite all the necessary persons.’’
What you should know
- It can be recalled that the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, a few days, during one of the briefings of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 revealed that the sum of N10 billion had been released for the local production of Covid-19 vaccine.
- He said the money was part of an agreement between the Federal Government and a foreign partner, May and Baker plc for the production of bio vaccines and added that the health ministry is acting on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Federal Government and the foreign partner for the production of the bio vaccines.
- Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, representing the Finance Minister during a meeting with the Joint Committee said that the N10 billion it released for vaccine development is not only for the production of Covid-19 vaccines.