As the court hearing of the on-going legal battle between the Federal Government (FG) Nigeria and Process and Industrial Developments Ltd (P&ID) approaches, Nigerian delegates have departed to the U.K to quash the earlier judgment.
It was learnt that a team of high-powered government officials is in London ahead of September 26th court session in the case against P&ID.
The Delegates: According to reports, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami; the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, on Saturday led the Government delegation to the U.K.
Other member of the delegation include the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.
While providing details on the impending court judgement, the Attorney General of the federation stated that the Federal Government was still considering all options in its efforts at upturning the judgment of the UK court. He also confirmed that the Nigerian delegation had left for the UK to discuss with the nation’s legal team.
“All cards are on the table, but it all depends on the one that has potency for setting aside the award having regards to the applicable law in the circumstances.
“No possibility is ruled out. The options available to us include the possibility of filing a new case and or using existing proceedings to seek relief of setting aside the award (of the contract). Nothing can be ruled out.” Malami stated.
While commenting further, Malami disclosed that although the U.K court had ruled that Nigeria should pay P&ID $9.6bn, however, it had yet to grant the approval for the seizure of Nigerian assets.
“What they (P&ID) did was to approach the conventional court for the enforcement of the award. The conventional court said it was not going to give an order for the enforcement of the order until they were heard.
“They had wanted an order ex parte without putting us on notice to attach (for seizure) our assets. But the court said it would have to hear from the other side (Nigeria) in the enforcement proceedings.
“The court fixed September 26 for the hearing of arguments by the parties to determine whether to allow for the enforcement or not to allow the enforcement.”
Recent Developments: Last week Thursday, an Abuja Federal High Court ordered the shutdown of operations and the forfeiture of the assets of P&ID Virgin Island and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited on 11-counts charge.
The firms were alleged to have fraudulently obtained lands from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the gas supply project agreement that resulted to the $9.6bn judgment debt on count one.
The firms admitted guilt to ‘count four’ which was a similar charge to ‘count three’, and pleaded guilty to count five, and count six which bordered on the charges of tax evasion.
A counter-motion: It was learnt that the Nigerian delegates are prepared to tender before the court evidence that the Gas Supply Processing Agreement signed in 2010, which led to the judgment of the British court, was rooted in fraud and corrupt practices.
It was further learnt that among the evidences the Nigerian delegates have prepared to present to before the court are EFCC’s investigative reports and last Thursday’s judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
“So, it is not about an appeal now. The court’s pronouncement as to what amount of money to be paid has been made by the court. They approached the court to allow them to attach Nigerian assets in fulfillment of the award that was granted. The court fixed September 26 for the entertainment of arguments as to whether or not it would allow the attachment of Nigeria’s assets.
“So, we are going to the British court to argue that they should not be granted the power to attach the assets. The only thing that can be of help to Nigeria in stopping the enforcement of the entire award is proof of corrupt practices as the basis for the arbitral award.
“So, we called for investigation as to the relationship between local partners’ component and international partners’ component.
“So, we have at our disposal proof that they sent money to Nigerian officials, and in return for the money that was sent to Nigerian officials, there was a compromise all through the creation of a fraudulent and deceitful agreement.” Malami Stated.
Tax on rents and Certificate of Occupancy is valid – Akabueze
FIRS had announced that stamp duty will be paid on house rent and C of O.
The Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, announced that the recent FIRS taxes on Certificate of Occupancy and rents is not new and has been around since the 1980s.
He disclosed this in the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF&FSP) on Friday, adding that ever since the 80s, his landlord had always given him a postage stamp on his rent receipts, and that the law was not just recognized for a long time.
“Over time, because the culture of postage has dropped off and that was not being implemented. What FIRS has done now is to make that into electronic stamp that you can still use to comply with the existing law,” Akabueze said.
Last week, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced that stamp duty will be paid on house rent and Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), in line with its new adhesive duty. The new duty was inaugurated in Abuja at the official inauguration of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Audit and Recovery of Back Years Stamp Duties.
FIRS Director for Communication and Liaison Department, Mr Abdullahi Ahmad, said the new policy was necessary so as to give the instruments the legal backing required and make them legally binding on all parties involved in such transactions.
Consequently, Ahmad asked Nigerians to ensure that documents that related to rent and lease agreements for homes or offices, C of O, and other common business-related transaction instruments were authenticated with the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty.
He also advised Nigerians to make sure that any document related to leasing agreements and rents related to offices and homes, including C of O and other transaction instruments used in these seals were authenticated with the new FIRS Adhesive Stamp Duty.
Port-Harcourt International airport resumes flight operations
The first flight to Port Harcourt was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos.
The Port Harcourt International Airport formally resumed flight operations on Saturday, July 11, with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), restating its commitment towards a zero coronavirus transmission.
This was disclosed by the Regional Manager South-South and South-East of FAAN, Abayomi Akinbinu, on Saturday, July 11, during the arrival of the first flight after 3 months of shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The first flight, which was conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos, arrived Port-Harcourt International Airport terminal at 7.50 am.
He said the Port-Harcourt airport management was ready to ensure zero chances of the coronavirus transmission with the management giving no room for default of the COVID-19 safety guidelines by regulatory authorities as flight operations resume at the airport.
He frowned at the non-adherence to physical distancing rule, while also commending safety compliance level by service providers and passengers at the airport.
According to Abayomi, “Our markings of 1.5 metres apart are visibly on the floor, but maybe because of excitement it’s not being properly followed; so we need to make quick enforcement in that regard.”
He said although there was low turnout of passengers, he expected a gradual increase in the coming days.
He said, “On the departure section, we are gradually getting more passengers and I believe that going forward passengers’ turnout is going to increase. My message to prospective passengers is that the Port Harcourt International Airport terminal is safe.”
On his own part, the Head of Aviation Medical Clinic of the airport, Dr Nuhu Mwabi, said that the Port Health is seriously conducting mandatory temperature checks on both service providers and passengers before allowing them into the airport terminal building.
Nuhu said, “This is because we want to fish out persons with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and above, so that we can isolate such individual. Our cardinal objective is to ensure that we contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases within the airport.”
He added that the World Health Organization and the various medical teams were ready to professionally handle any suspected case, should the need arise.
It can be recalled that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had last week announced the resumption schedule for flight operations for the various airports across the country. The Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport resumed flight operations on July 8.
Lagos Govt Seals Acouns Medical Lab for conducting illegal COVID-19 tests
The lab conducted COVID-19 tests without required government approval.
The Lagos State Ministry of Health has sealed a private medical laboratory that was conducting illegal COVID-19 tests inside a pharmacy at Banana Island in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The ministry stated that the laboratory, Acouns Medical Laboratory and Diagnostic Centre, conducted COVID-19 tests without required government approval.
Yesterday, @LSMOH through @HEFAMAA_LASG sealed a private laboratory located on Banana Island, Ikoyi for carrying out #COVID19 tests without the required government approval. The lab; Acouns Medical Laboratory and Diagnostic Centre was also situated in a pharmacy! @followlasg pic.twitter.com/KkMzxYDBFq
— LSMOH (@LSMOH) July 11, 2020
According to a NAN report, the laboratory was sealed on Friday, July 10 by one of the agencies of the Ministry of Health – Health Facility Monitoring Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA).
The ministry warned in its Saturday morning tweet, that such health facilities posed a danger to their communities and staff, and discouraged residents from patronising facilities that had not been duly accredited for such purposes.
“It is illegal to manage COVID-19 cases outside of an accredited facility. We implore the public not to go for tests or treatment in a private facility that has not been accredited by government.
“It is dangerous and it might put you at more risk,” it said.
The ministry promised to ensure that health facilities in the state adhered strictly to the standards put in place, and urged residents to cooperate with the authorities.
Recall that a few weeks ago, the Lagos State government announced it has added Seven Private Laboratories into its testing strategy to expand capacity in Nigeria’s commercial capital.
Lagos state has, through its accredited health facilities, conducted over 45,000 COVID-19 tests, with over 7000 confirmed cases from the number.
The ministry had also recently announced the private health facilities accredited for the purpose of COVID-19 testing.
The approved private labs are;
📍Total Medical Services
📍Medbury medical Services
📍Biologix Medical Services
📍02 Medical Services
📍Clina Lancent Lab pic.twitter.com/GS2f1FfP5j
— Prof. Akin Abayomi (@ProfAkinAbayomi) June 30, 2020