The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has ordered all courts in the country to suspend judicial activities immediately, in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Earlier last Friday, the Chief Justice had issued a circular directing that all staff and court visitors including lawyers, litigants, men of the press and orderlies, undergo screening at the entrance before entering the court premises.
The memo insisted that, “Anyone who refuses to undergo temperature screening at the entrance should be sent back.”
However, developments over the weekend prompted the Chief Justice to issue a new directive on Monday ordering all of the courts to close for at least two weeks, with immediate effect.
The circular, however, stated that matters which are time-sensitive would not be affected by this shutdown, but would still be treated.
The directive reads, “Further to my earlier circular Ref. No. NJC/CIR/HOC/II/629 dated 20th March 2020, on the above subject matter. In view of the reality of the COVID-19 in the country and in order to take further preventive steps, all heads of courts are, from tomorrow, the 24th day of March 2020, directed to suspend court sittings for an initial period of two weeks at the first instance, except in matters that are urgent, essential or time bound according to our extant laws.
“Your Lordships are hereby directed to bring the content of this circular to the notice of all stakeholders in justice administration, please.”
The Federal Government had on Thursday ordered an immediate closure of all educational institutions in the country, from primary to tertiary levels, in a bid to reduce the incidence of large gatherings and curb the spread of the Coronavirus disease.
As of Monday evening, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had risen to 40, with 2 discharged and 1 dead.
Buhari to finally send Petroleum Industry Bill to National Assembly next week
Sources in the Presidency have disclosed that the President may be presenting the bill to the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to present the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the Senate as early as next week.
According to Reuters, who were quoting 4 sources familiar with the development, the presentation of the bill to the National Assembly, follows its official approval by the president late last week. This is as the National Assembly has already formed teams of members that will work most closely on the individual portions of the bill.
Both chambers of the National Assembly must have to pass the bill after deliberating on it before it can then be passed on to the president for his final signature.
The PIB which is an oil reform bill has been in the works for about 20 years, is key to the repositioning of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry under its post-COVID-19 agenda as the main laws governing oil and gas exploration have not been fully updated since the 1960s due to some contentious issues like taxes, payments to local communities, terms and revenue sharing within Nigeria.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had disclosed that the delay and non-passage of the bill has made international investors to start losing confidence in the country’s oil and gas industry.
While revealing last month that the PIB will be presented to the National Assembly in the next few weeks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, also said that the executive arm will be requesting the lawmakers to specially reconvene to receive and start deliberations on the bill.
These oil reforms and regulatory certainty became more pressing this year as low oil prices and a shift towards renewable energy made competition for investment from oil majors tougher.
The draft copy of the bill which was prepared by the Petroleum Ministry is a product of series of consultation between the federal government, oil and gas companies and other industry stakeholders.
Excerpts from the bill reported by Reuters include provisions that would streamline and reduce some oil and gas royalties, increase the amount of money companies pay to local communities and for environmental clean-ups alter the dispute resolution process between companies and the government.
It also included measures to push companies to develop gas discoveries and a framework for gas tariffs and delivery. Commercializing gas, particularly for use in local power generation, is a core government priority.
UK-based group to investment $245 million in 100 Nigerian businesses
A UK based organization is to partner local investment funds to disburse $245 million to 100 Nigerian businesses.
A UK-based development finance institution, CDC Group, has finalized plans to invest US$425 million as an aid to 100 businesses and 38,000 jobs in Nigeria.
This is sequel to its partnership with 40 investment funds such as Afreximbank, African Capital Alliance and Indoram, NAN reports
In a virtual visit to the country by the board of the organization led by Chief Executive, Nick O’Donohoe and Chairman, Graham Wrigley, the UK Government-funded organization stated that all earnings from its investments are ploughed back to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa and South Asia.
CDC Group noted that it paid a virtual visit to the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, to discuss and ascertain the impact of CDC’s aid to its investees through the COVID-19 crisis and understand how to stimulate recovery and growth.
The discussions also focused on CDC’s own response to the pandemic through its preserved, strengthen and rebuild programme, the statement said
Commenting on the rationale of the aid, the Chief Executive of the CDC Group, Nick O’Donohe said that, “Nigeria plays a key part in our strategy of partnership and investment for economic growth in West Africa. “Hosting our 2020 board trip– albeit virtually – in both markets is a testament to our commitment.
“Looking forward, we will continue to prioritise the post-COVID-19 recovery as part of the Build Back Better agenda.
“We are committed to supporting a deeper and more strategic bilateral partnership between the UK and Nigeria that is based on enhancing economic development, job creation, inclusion, trade and investment,” O’Donohoe further remarked.
In a glowing tribute and commendation to the group, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing CBE said CDC has been pivotal to creating jobs and supporting the growth of businesses by investing in the poorest countries across Africa, including Nigeria.
“CDC’s commitment to the country signals to other UK investors that investing in Nigeria is possible and should be prioritized in order to help Nigeria and indeed, Africa, mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” the envoy said.
Just-in: Nigeria’s manufacturing sector contracts for 5th consecutive month – CBN
The CBN disclosed in its September PMI report that the manufacturing sector contracted.
The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), in September 2020, has witnessed a contraction for the fifth consecutive month, as it stood at 46.9 index points.
This was disclosed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in its September PMI report released on Wednesday.
The report stated that, out of the 14 subsectors surveyed, 4 subsectors reported expansion (above 50% threshold) in the review month in the following order:
- Electrical equipment
- Transportation equipment
- Cement, and
- Nonmetallic mineral products
The paper product subsector was stable.
While the remaining 9 subsectors reported contraction (below 50% threshold) in the review month in the following order:
- Petroleum & coal products
- Primary metal
- Furniture & related products
- Printing & related support activities
- Food, beverage & tobacco products
- Textile, apparel, leather & footwear
- Chemical & pharmaceutical products;
- Fabricated metal products and
- Plastics & rubber products
The Non-manufacturing sector PMI stood at 41.9 points in September 2020, indicating contraction in nonmanufacturing PMI, for the sixth consecutive month.