September 28, 2019
LAGOS – Leading foods and infrastructure giant, BUA Group and owners of BUA Ports and Terminal, Port Harcourt, has said it will follow due process in defending and protecting its rights against the recent decommissioning of its Terminal in Port Harcourt by the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) – a move described by the maritime union and industry watchers as capable of undermining NPA concessioning agreements and internationally acceptable judicial/dispute resolution procedures.
The NPA had earlier claimed in a statement by its spokesperson and published in various newspapers that the reason for the decommissioning of BUA Jetty was a result of the unsafe operational environment of the jetty which needed urgent repairs and reconstruction. BUA Group however explained that it had on different occasions written the NPA seeking approval to perform remedial works on the terminal and wondered why the NPA refused to grant approval but rather hurriedly decommissioned the terminal despite the repair works required for the part of the Jetty in question not requiring a decommissioning or closure of the entire Terminal.
BUA Group also accused the NPA of failing to meet with its obligations regarding the lease agreement and of disregarding the Federal High Court, Lagos Division injunction restraining NPA from terminating or giving effect to the Notice of Termination pending the referral of the issues in dispute to arbitration as provided under the lease Agreement. Also, BUA group questioned why the NPA will jettison the pending arbitral processes of the Court Of Arbitration of International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and take laws into its hands by de taking physical possession of the Terminal.
The company however declared that they will remain unshaken by the actions of NPA and vowed to vigorously defend its rights as provided under the Agreement both in court and the arbitration proceedings whilst remaining committed to the terms of the agreement.
The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to recent publications and news report in various news media and inundated with calls from various media houses and stakeholders asking for our side of the issues with the management of Nigerian Ports Authority [NPA] over the decommissioning of our Terminal at Port Harcourt. Ordinarily, we would not have reacted to such publication as the matter is currently before the competent court and subject of arbitration proceeding between the parties. However, it is important that we present salient facts in similar medium of the publication for the benefit of the stakeholders in the maritime industry and the general public.
“Under the agreement between the parties, NPA has an obligation, among others, to dredge the port and repair the quay apron of the Terminal which responsibility it has failed to perform till date.
“The background to the issues between the NPA and BUA Ports and Terminals Limited has its root in the Lease Agreement between the Nigerian Port Authority, the Bureau of Public Enterprises on one hand both representing the Federal Government of Nigeria and BUA Ports and Terminal Limited on the other hand. The Lease Agreement provides for mutual rights and obligations and makes provision for dispute resolution mechanism which explicitly states that dispute shall be resolved by arbitration.
“To our surprise and utter bewilderment and in clear breach of the contractual provisions , NPA by a letter dated 11th November, 2016 terminated the Lease Agreement. BUA Ports and Terminals as a law abiding corporate citizen approached the Federal High Court, Lagos Division in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/633/17 between BUA Ports and Terminal Ltd v. NPA contesting the purported termination of the Lease and obtained an order of injunction restraining NPA from terminating or giving effect to the Notice of Termination pending the referral of the issues in dispute to arbitration as provided under the Agreement. The Order granting injunction is dated 18th January, 2018.
“By the terms of the Agreement, the parties are enjoined to continue with the observance of the terms and performance of their respective obligations under the Agreement even while disputes are being resolved by either court or arbitration.
“As a result of the injunction and the terms of the contract, BUA Ports and Terminals continues to carry out its obligations under the contract pending the resolution of the dispute. It is important to state that subsequent to the order of injunction, BUA Ports and Terminals wrote several letters and made overtures to the management of NPA for an amicable resolution of the dispute. NPA did not respond to the request for amicable settlement or the overtures made as the management of NPA appears bent and determined to give effect to the Notice of Termination by several measures including but not limited to decommissioning the Terminal.
“Consistent with the terms of the agreement, BUA wrote a letter dated 16th May, 2019 to notify the NPA of the state of the jetty and the need for immediate remedial works. BUA Ports and Terminals specifically in that letter requested the approval of NPA for it to carry out the necessary repairs and reconstruction to avert imminent collapse and danger to human lives. However, NPA instead of giving the requisite approval as requested in our letter and consistent with the terms of the Agreement, in its determination to give effect to the purported Notice of Termination took laws into its hand by directing the decommissioning of the jetty and immediate closure of the Terminal.
“It should be stated that the repairs required was as a result of the nefarious activities of hoodlums and vandals who had over a period of time cut the pipes and steel beam of the berths thereby affecting their stability, among others. The activities of these hoodlums and vandals were at various times reported to the NPA who had the responsibility and obligation under the Agreement to provide security for the Ports. The NPA did nothing. Indeed BUA in its determined effort to tackle these issues caused some arrests to be made and some of the suspects prosecuted, but NPA as owners of the Ports showed little or no interest in the prosecution and the case was lost. Obviously, if the NPA had been alive to its responsibilities and provided the required security, the activities of the vandals would have been prevented.
“It is important to stress that the repair and reconstruction required for the part of the Jetty in question does not require a decommissioning or closure of the entire Terminal. The carrying out of the remedial works if approved by the management of NPA would have remedied the defects stated in our letter to NPA and averted any risk of loss of property and lives. It is apparent that NPA is using the said letter by BUA Ports and Terminals as a subterfuge for an effective termination and closure of the Terminal in violation of the order of the court restraining NPA from carrying into effect the purported Notice of Termination.
It is also germane to point out that under the Lease Agreement, NPA has an obligation, among others, to dredge the port and repair the quay walls and apron of the Terminal which responsibility it has failed to perform till date. The dredging of the port is a sine qua non condition for the effective reconstruction and rehabilitation of the jetty given the age of the port (over 100 years old).
Contrary to the impression being created by NPA that BUA Ports and Terminals refused or neglected to reconstruct the berths it is imperative to point out that BUA Ports and Terminals Limited awarded the contract for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the berths to Julius Berger Nigeria Limited (arguably the best civil construction company in Nigeria) and made a payment of Four Million Seven Hundred Thousand Euros as part-payment for the contract which was frustrated by the deliberate refusal of NPA to fulfil part of their obligations stated above. The contract is however still subsisting. A copy of the letter from JBN acknowledging advance payment also exists.
For the avoidance of doubt, we should state that subsequent to the letter of NPA dated 17th June ordering the decommissioning of the Jetty and closure of the Terminal, NPA upon our representation and after extracting an indemnity and undertaking from us, reopened the Jetty and the Terminal and we were in operation for three weeks only for the management of NPA to direct the Port Manager orally to close the Terminal. The question is what is the purport of extracting an undertaking and indemnity from us if NPA would still close the Terminal?
“The general public may wish to note that subsequent to the order of closure, NPA has since referred the matter to arbitration at the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, Paris. BUA has responded to the claims of NPA and also counterclaimed. But rather than allow the arbitral process to proceed and await the determination of the issues, NPA has not only taken laws into its hands by taking physical possession of the Terminal by force and engaged in campaign of calumny against us in its bid to justify the unlawful and extra-legal measures taken by the Authority.
“The question is why did NPA refuse to give approval to carry out necessary remedial repair works as requested in BUA’s letter of 16th May, 2019 and as confirmed by NPA letter of 17th June, 2019, as the substance of our letter?
“The simple answer is that NPA management is determined at all cost to terminate the Lease Agreement notwithstanding the terms of the agreement which provides that parties should continue with their respective obligations under the Agreement pending the resolution of the disputes, the order of injunction and the pendency of the arbitration proceedings between the parties.
“While we are willing and ready to carry out necessary repairs/reconstruction of the berth (with the necessary cooperation of NPA), we shall in the interim vigorously defend and protect our rights as provided under the Agreement both in court and the arbitration proceedings,” the statement added.
Coronation Merchant Bank partners Union Systems to commence full automation of its Trade Finance Operations
Coronation Merchant Bank has continued to make giant strides in Trade financing.
Leading financial institution in Nigeria, Coronation Merchant Bank, has partnered with Union Systems Limited to fully automate its Trade Finance Operations. The trade finance software, Trade-XTM comes with a front-end portal, OptimusTM that empowers corporate clients to initiate and manage their trade transactions from both web and mobile platforms from anywhere in the world.
Earlier this year, the Bank announced its partnership with IFC (a member of the World Bank Group) to provide a $40 million Trade Finance Guarantee facility. In addition to this, the Bank has continued to make other strides in Trade financing such as its recent appointment as a designated bank for the collection and remittance of all Revenue Payments (i.e. Import, Excise and other duties) by the Nigeria Customs Service.
Commenting on the partnership with Union Systems, Banjo Adegbohungbe, Managing Director/CEO of Coronation Merchant Bank stated that, “We are delighted to partner with Union Systems in providing an automated platform to help our trade clients achieve their business objectives. Leveraging this platform, we hope to further improve our clients’ end-to-end experience in their trade-related transactions”. He further stated that, “the launch of the automated trade platform is in line with the Bank’s strategy of becoming a foremost financial institution in trade financing in Nigeria and across Africa”.
Also commenting on the partnership, Chuks Onyebuchi, CEO Union Systems said, “We are very pleased to be the preferred partner to automate the bank’s trade operations using our products, Trade-XTM and OptimusTM. We will be bringing to bear our over 20 years’ experience of successful implementation of trade finance solutions across Africa. Our software will provide a seamless experience to the bank’s clients on all their trade finance activities from the comfort of their home and office.”
About Coronation Merchant Bank
Coronation Merchant Bank was established in 2015 to provide wholesale banking to a long under-served market. The Bank offers Investment and Corporate Banking, Private Banking/Wealth Management and, Global Markets/Treasury Services to its clientele.
This year, the Bank has received numerous awards from international organizations for product innovation, sound corporate governance structures and commendable financial performance. Some of the international awards received by the Bank include Best Investment Bank in Nigeria by Global Finance Magazine, Best Investment Bank in Nigeria by World Finance, Best Investment Bank in Nigeria by Global Banking & Finance Review and Best Investment Bank by Global Business Outlook,
About Union Systems Limited
Union Systems Limited (USL) is an Information Technology Company that provides financial software solutions and professional services to major banks in Africa. The company provides software solutions to financial institutions to enhance their software capabilities, effectively scale processes, improve compliance and drive operational efficiencies.
With headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, the company has a deep understanding of the African market and has a team of highly qualified consultants that have real-world experience in the delivery of complex software solutions. Top banks in Africa rely on Union Systems to deliver growth, profitability and regulatory compliance in financial software applications.
Multichoice Nigeria: How investing $2.1 billion in Nigeria’s media and entertainment value chain impacts national economy
Multichoice’s commitment to enriching lives, as their mantra says, has never been in doubt.
Through MultiChoice Nigeria’s socio-economic investment, for 27 years, the company has made significant contributions to the growth of the Nigerian economy. At the heart of this investment is entrepreneurship and employment opportunities through multiple channel distribution platforms and a commitment to the continuous growth of the sports, technology, film and video sectors through infrastructural development.
In 2015, when a set of big goals called the Millennium Development Goals that were set two decades ago reached their ‘expiry date’, with some of the key objectives still unmet, a new 15-year timeline was set for yet another group of goals, this time called the Sustainable Development Goals. From eight goals to seventeen new goals, five years in, the world can say that a major shift seems to be happening.
One clear indication of this is in the way business operations for many organizations around the world have evolved. With many companies becoming more conscious of how their affairs affect the environment, how consumers interact with their products, and how much value they really add to society, corporate social responsibility or value, has moved from being an item on the checklist to become a business core.
Now, while many businesses seem to be playing catch-up, there are others even in Africa, who unknowingly, but with great startup vision, had laid the foundation and built a template for what a socially responsible company should look like.
Established in 1993, Multichoice Nigeria had a 7-year lead time, before the MDGs became a guide and used those years to build a solid business that combines profit and purpose. Today, that business represents what shared prosperity is, having created the right mix of opportunities for its people to grow, while helping to build an industry that ranks as the second-largest in the world and the most loved in Africa.
As people say, if content is king, distribution is definitely queen, and this thinking remains why Nollywood owes a lot of the accolades it gets today to Multichoice Nigeria. Between 2015 and 2019, Accenture in its new report for Multichoice, estimates that about $428million has gone into the local content production business of Multichoice, mostly in developing local creativity and building the production infrastructure to support it. To put this investment in more perspective, it directly translates to 117,459 hours of local content. That’s huge, on both an African and global scale, even huger given that it’s only from 5 years of enriching lives; definitely more if the organization’s 27 years is brought into view.
These sorts of investments rarely occur without a ripple effect on human capital development, but leaving things to chance isn’t the Multichoice way. The Multichoice Talent Factory further drives the local content goal for Multichoice, as they welcome a cohort of 20 students who after one year graduate, are better equipped to keep the African film industry innovative and constantly growing. It is an intentional play at giving equal opportunities to anyone with film and broadcast dreams to pick the skills they require to make a mark in the industry.
On one hand, as Multichoice continues to build more credibility for the entertainment and media industry in Africa, through its investment in local content, future talents, even award shows, it is also ensuring the market for the content they produce grows on the other hand. This process has required a strong supply chain and Multichoice Nigeria has proven equal to the task investing over $1 billion in their distributor, supplier, even installer network in just the last 5 years. With further investment in their 961 employees, in the areas of training and other benefits, it is safe to say they have gone beyond building a business, to building an ecosystem.
Whether this ecosystem model works is a question their recently released socio-economic value report put together by Accenture and covering the last five years of operations answers perfectly. The contribution of an estimated US$2.1bn to the Nigerian economy between that 5-year period, shows that they understand the role they play in achieving a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
In Multichoice’s 27 years of operating in Nigeria, their commitment to actually enriching lives as their mantra says, has never been in doubt. Beyond the strides their video content business has made in employing people directly, creating jobs for even more people in adjacent industries, training talents and building infrastructure; the company has always still found a way to give back to the different communities where they operate.
With a portfolio of grassroots sporting programs, various awards that recognize great work from inspiring Africans, essential care for people with sickle cell disorder and investments in education and educational content, Multichoice Nigeria shows it is more than just business.
Cowrie Integrated Systems and COINQVEST announce payment processor partnership
Allowing Nigerian online merchants to accept BTC, ETH, XLM, or other cryptocurrencies and settle directly in naira.
July 9th, 2020, COINQVEST and Cowrie Integrated Systems today announced a partnership to allow Nigerian merchants to add major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to online payment options in online shops and e-commerce businesses. The cooperation between Cowrie and COINQVEST enables these funds to be settled to Nigerian Naira (NGN) bank accounts, in minutes.
Nigerian online merchants can now process payments using any of the major cryptocurrencies their customers use. This financial flexibility and speed can be a game-changer for large and small merchants alike.
The Cowrie and COINQVEST partnership promises a range of positive impacts for enterprises wanting to update their payment processing infrastructure. The COINQVEST platform provides all of the user experience merchants seek and require.
COINQVEST’s software development kits make integration easy for developers. Merchants unfamiliar with coding can opt for COINQVEST’s turnkey checkout solutions for WordPress, Shopify and Magento. Once set up, merchants have a valuable financial toolbox.
They’re able to accept cryptocurrencies (or any supported currency), convert it to their national currency, and withdraw funds to their bank accounts. Merchants have access to customer transaction analytics to tailor their businesses as needed. Also included are compliant and accountant-friendly tax records, useful during tax season.
“Bitcoin is exchanged, and NGN immediately transferred to a bank account, offering a modern and internet-based payment option for customers”, says COINQVEST co-founder Marcin Olszowy. He continues, “We eliminate credit card processor fees, payment delays, chargebacks. Immediate transaction settlement also improves financial monitoring and business turnover.”
Cowrie co-founder Gbubemi Agbeyegbe explains, “Bitcoin is extremely popular in Nigeria, with the highest adoption rate in Africa. This solution lets online merchants embrace digital payments and gives customers an option to use their Bitcoin in everyday lives.”
COINQVEST co-founder Stefan Schneider adds, “COINQVEST offers the most efficient way to accept Bitcoin compliantly. This is why Nigerian businesses, such as leading online fashion store PayPorte and others, already embrace digital currency payment processing via COINQVEST.”
COINQVEST is a safe and seamless enterprise payment gateway and API between fiat and digital currencies. Processing is secure and automatic, with beautifully designed back-end analytics like invoicing and transaction history to serve enterprise business needs. COINQVEST’s developer-centric API can assist merchants or B2B candidates to accept a variety of digital payment options alongside their current methods. Website: www.coinqvest.com
About Cowrie Integrated Systems
Incorporated in the UK and Nigeria, Cowrie Integrated Systems is a fin-tech company that provides value-added services over electronic payment networks. Cowrie Integrated Systems is a well-established Nigerian payment processor and fiat to crypto payment platform and exchange. Website: www.cowrie.exchange