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FG Loses Bid To Stop Hearing Of Abacha’s Suit To Reclaim OPL 245

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, dismissed preliminary objection the Federal Government lodged to stop hearing of a suit that the son of late military Head of State, Mohammed Abacha, filed to reclaim ownership of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245, which was originally awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

The court, in a ruling by Justice Binta Nyako, held that contrary to the Federal Government’s contention, the suit was neither statute-barred nor amounted to an abuse of the judicial process.

Justice Nyako held that the court has the requisite jurisdiction to look into the case.

Aside from the Federal Government, other Defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/201/2017, are; the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Shell Nigeria Ultra-Deep Ltd, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd, Nigeria Agip Exploration Company Ltd, and former Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete.

The OPL 245 is regarded as one of the biggest oil blocs in Africa.

It was initially awarded to Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd in 1998 by the late military head of state, General Sani Abacha, in a process, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleged was against all known government regulations.

The EFCC said its investigations revealed that Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd secured OPL 245 through a fraudulent scheme involving high scale bribery and corruption by top management of the company and some government officials.

Processes the anti-graft agency filed in court further revealed that the oil bloc was later withdrawn from Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd on July 2, 2001, based on the directive of the Presidential Adviser on Petroleum to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, after which it was re-allocated to Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd.

However, following series of litigations, OPL 245 was returned back to Malabu, which EFCC said subsequently went into a fraudulent agreement with Shell and Agip, in which the companies paid a signature bonus of $210million to the Federal Government, while an additional $1.2billion bribe was given to some owners of Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd led by a former Minister of Petroleum under Abacha, Chief Etete, who as at then was already a convict.

The EFCC alleged that it was former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, that helped Shell and Agip to route the bribe money through the Federal Government’s Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London.

However, Adoke had since denied the allegation, insisting that he was innocent. Meanwhile, in the suit he filed in the name of Malabu Oil, Abacha’s son, Mohammed, claimed to be the majority shareholder in the oil firm.

The plaintiff told the court that the oil firm was not part of the purported allocation of OPL 245 to Shell and Agip and for which they allegedly paid $1.3billion to Etete.

He told the court that actual shareholders of the firm were excluded from the process.

The Plaintiff added that the oil company was also not part of the Bloc 245 Resolution Agreement of April 29, 2011, entered between the Federal Government, Shell, Agip, and Etete, purporting to represent Malabu Oil, adding that it “did not relinquish any or all of its rights and interests in OPL 245 to any person or persons.”

He added that the purported allocation of OPL 245 to Shell and Agip in 2011 was in violation of Malabu oil’s rights as the holder of the “OPL 245 to exclusively explore and prospect for petroleum within the area of its licence, pursuant to Paragraph 5 of the First Schedule to the Petroleum Act, and is therefore null and of no effect.”

Plaintiff is praying the court to among other things, issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from carrying out any exploration or prospecting activities in connection with or in relation to the area covered by OPL 245.

It wants the court to make an order compelling the Defendants to restore to it, its right to the exclusive possession of OPL 245.

The Plaintiff also wants a declaration that not being a party to the Bloc 245 Resolution Agreement dated April 29, 2011, any payment purportedly made by the Defendants into any bank account purporting to be the Plaintiff’s bank account and or made to the 7th defendant (Etete) purportedly in the name of the Plaintiff, was not a payment made in pursuance of the said bloc 245 resolution agreement.

The Plaintiff is further seeking a declaration that the allocation of OPL 245 by the 1st and 2nd Defendants (FG and Petroleum Minister) to the 4th and 5th defendants (Shell and Agip), via a letter by the Petroleum Minister, on May 11, 2011, titled “Re: OPL 245 Resolution Agreement/Letter of Award”, while the Plaintiff’s rights and the interests to OPL 245 were subsisting, is in violation of the Plaintiff’s exclusive right under Paragraph 5 of the First Schedule to the Petroleum Act, to explore and prospect for petroleum within the area covered by OPL 245, and is therefore, invalid, wrongful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Justice Nyako adjourned the suit till March 9, 2021, for hearing.

 

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Fund Police Recruitment, Training Adequately, Reps Tell FG … Plan To Probe Face-Off Between PSC, IGP

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The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to make provision for the adequate funding of recruitment and training of police personnel in the country.
The lawmakers also resolved to investigate the standoff between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, over the 2024 police recruitment.
The lawmakers’ resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion on urgent public importance moved by the member representing Ogbia Federal Constituency, Bayelsa State, Hon. Mitema Obordor, during yesterday’s plenary.
The House called on the Federal Government to provide adequate funding and resources necessary to support the recruitment and training of police officers.
The House also impressed on the Federal Government to increase the number of police personnel to be recruited and in doing so, ensure that the federal character provisions as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution are strictly adhered to.
This is as the Green chamber urged its Committee on Police to investigate the cause of the lingering dispute between the PSC and the IG with the aim of resolving the dispute, and proceed with the recruitment process without further delay.
Titled, “Urgent need to investigate and settle the lingering police recruitment dispute halting the 2023/2024 police recruitment exercise,” Hon. Obordor stated that in view of the population of Nigeria and the security situation in the country, the ideal police-to-citizen ratio in Nigeria ought to be one police officer to 200 citizens.
He lamented, however, that “The country currently has a ratio of one police officer to 650 citizens, indicating a significant shortfall in the Nigerian police strength, and far below the United Nations recommendation of one police to 450 citizens.”
Obordor recalled the lingering dispute between the PSC and the IG, which he said, has resulted to an impasse, and regrettably halted the ongoing recruitment process for almost 10 months.
He added, “The lingering dispute between the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of police which has resulted to a halt in the 2023/2024 recruitment process exacerbates the existing shortage of police personnel, undermining the police’s capacity to effectively respond to security threats.
“The House recognizes the critical need to strengthen the Nigerian Police Force by setting a ratio of one police officer to 200 citizen, or adopt the United Nations recommendation of a ratio of one police officer to 450 citizens to address the escalating security challenges facing our nation;
“The House recognises that the resolution of the lingering dispute between the police service commission and the Inspector-General of police, and the recruitment of additional police officers are crucial to bolstering Nigeria’s security and ensuring the safety of citizens.”
He further noted that the shortage of police personnel has reduced police presence in communities, “thereby, leading to a surge in crime rates as criminals take advantage of the situation especially in Bayelsa State, compromised public safety, eroded trust in the police force and the government’s ability to ensure security.”
He added that the House “is also worried that the dispute between the Police Service Commission and the Inspector-General of Police which has resulted to a halt in the police recruitment and the attendant capacity shortage and weakness of the Nigerian police may have a far-reaching national security implications, potentially emboldening terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.”

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Youths’ll Find Expression In Our Sporting Competitions, Fubara Assures …Showers Cash Gifts On Laurel-Winning Talents, Teams

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has announced that annual sporting tournament will commence immediately in the State to provide platforms for youths to horn their talents and actualise their dreams.
The Governor has, therefore, directed the State Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Christopher Green, to design the structure of the competition, and liaise with his office in order to kickstart the tournament, adding that those who perform excellently will be celebrated at an award ceremony in December, 2024.
Governor Fubara made the announcement at the official presentation of trophies and medals from the Rivers United Under 17 Youth League, Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club, Rivers Angels Football Club, Rivers Table Tennis Team, Judo, Chess, Volleyball, Paralysis and Hockey teams at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
The Governor expressed delight over the number of trophies that have been presented to him by the various teams, and said he feels the most lucky representative of the State at a time like this.
Governor Fubara said: “You are making us proud. We will be encouraged to support you the more. We will support you to ensure that you go places.
“Let me say this: it is not about the money that is being pledged to you to encourage you. It is the spirit and the love that you have for our State that has enabled you to represent us, and also make us win in the comity of states.
“So, I want you to leave here, and be encouraged more. Continue to do the best you can to promote sports in our State. The only thing that brings people together is sports, and I think and believe that if we spend and invest in sports, it will go a long way to engage our youths, and reduce crime and criminality.”
Governor Fubara stated: “So, I am here authorising that the Commissioner for Sports should immediately commence a sports programme or festival that can engage our youths within this period.
“Be it football or whatever, but I want you to come up with a tournament that will engage our youths between now and December. I want the programme to be a programme that by December, we should be gathering to honour the winners of the tournament.”
Governor Fubara explained the essence of his decision, saying that instead of using the State’s resources to equip youths with explosive devices to cause mayhem or hire people for daily protests, it is better to spend it on a path that will further advance the good and peace-loving people of Rivers State.
He said, “Let me first of all congratulate, very specially, everyone of you that has worked tirelessly to make Rivers State proud. I want to specially appreciate the Commissioner. One thing is spending money, another one is getting results for the money. I think when it comes to issue of results, he brings results.
“And, he is not bringing the results because he is the Commissioner, he is getting these results because he is working with dedicated team players.
“I want to appreciate you people for everything that you have done, for your determination, because if you are not determined to win, we are not going to flog you: it will just be try again. But, you want to be winners, and that is why we are celebrating today.”
Governor Fubara, who also appreciated the management of the various teams, urged them to continue to do their best in making the State proud because posterity will not forget their contributions.
He announced cash gifts of between N2.5million and N30million for the individual and group winners of all the teams, including the Supporters’ Club.
In his speech, Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Christopher Green, explained that the competitions were tough but with the support given by Governor Fubara, and determination of the players, gold, silver and bronze medals were clinched in different games played by males and females alike.
Barrister Green, who also said that new sporting records were created by Rivers teams, particularly in the Open Chess game, said a number of Rivers athletes emerged as most valued players and highest goal scorers, particularly in the U17 tournament played by Rivers United Football team.
On his part, Chairman, Governing Council of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka, acknowledged that the feat being celebrated is not only profound but novel in the sporting history of Nigeria.
Chief Amiesimaka, who thanked Governor Fubara for his support to the teams, which served to boost their morals, urged the players not to rest on their oars but strive for more laurels.
Also speaking, a notable sports administrator in the State, Dr Sam Sam Jaja, said it is easier to be a champion but more demanding to sustain that posture, and charged the players to get more focused on beating the world.
He charged the laurel-winning sports talents to continue to sustain the momentum, in order to keep the State on the global sporting map as leading champions.

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Alleged Misappropriation: Judge Orders Ganduje’s Trial Must Continue In Absentia

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A Kano State High Court yesterday, insisted that the trial of the Chairman All Progressive Congress(APC), Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, charged with alleged bribery and misappropriation must continue even in his absence.
The Tide’s source reports that the state government instituted an eight-count charge bordering on bribery allegations, misappropriation and diversion of public funds running into billions of Niara against the defendants.
Ganduje, alongside his wife,Hafsat Umar, Abubakar Bawuro, Umar Abdullahi Umar, Jibrilla Muhammad, Lamash properties Limited,Safari Textiles Limited and Lasage General Enterprises Limited are charged with eight counts of bribery , misappropriation and diverting public funds.
The source reports that the court had on June 5, granted an order seeking to serve Ganduje and seven others through substituted service.
In a ruling Justice Amina Adamu-Aliyu, dismissed the application of the state government seeking bench warrant on the defendant.
She entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendants and refused to strike out the charge.
“The trial of the defendants continues even in their absentia,” she held.
Adamu-Aliyu adjourned the matter until Oct.23, and 24, for hearing of the preliminary objection and the main charge.
Earlier, Mr Adeola Adedipe SAN, told the court that service of court processes had been effected on the defendants and affidavit of service filed June 6.
“My lord the 1st, 2nd,3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th respondents are not in court nor represented only the 6th respondent.
“The court should enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the defendants who refused to answer the complaint in the charge pursuant to section 278(1)(2) of Kano State Administration of Criminal Justice Law(ACJL) 2019”
He urged the court to make an order pursuant to section 388 of Kano State ACJL on a bench warrant of arrest on the defendants.
“My lord the essence of arrest warrant is for the santity of the court because an order have been made for the defendants to appear before it and they refused”
Adedipe opposed the 6th respondent application on preliminary objection, affidavit of service and notice of appeal for stay of execution pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Counsel to the 6th respondent, Mr Nureini Jimoh, SAN, told the court that service was not effected on the respondent.
“We filed a notice of preliminary objection on jurisdiction of the court and filed an application for stay of execution before Court of appeal, restraining the prosecution from publishing any charges against the 6th respondent”
Jimoh urged the court to dismiss the prosecution’s application on warrant of arrest and plea of not guilty on the respondent

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