[UPDATE] Statutory Levies: Appeal Court Dismisses NLNG Suit Challenging NIMASA’s Powers

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, today has dismissed a judgment of the Federal High Court, which declared as illegal, levies imposed on Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The NLNG in 2013, had approached the Federal High Court, seeking a judicial determination of (among other things), the legality or otherwise of the levies sought to be imposed on it by NIMASA, on behalf of the Federal Government and the consequent blockade of the Bonny Channel by NIMASA and its agents as a result of the dispute.

In Oct 2013, the Federal High Court, Lagos, presided over by Justice Muhammed Idris, (who has now been elevated to Court of Appeal) held that NLNG, was not liable to pay three percent gross freight on its international inbound and outbound cargo, Sea Protection Levy, two per cent cabotage surcharge on all activities carried out for and on its behalf, as well as other sundry claims, as insisted by NIMASA.

Justice Idris also held that NLNG was not liable to make the said payments to NIMASA and that all payments already made by NLNG to NIMASA should be refunded to NLNG forthwith.

The judge further held that NIMASA was wrong in blockading the Bonny Channel for the purpose of enforcing the payments against NLNG.

Dissatisfied with Justice Idris’ decisions, NIMASA filed an appeal before the Appeal Court in Oct 2017, challenging the judgment on the ground of fair hearing among other grounds.

In a unanimous judgment delivered today, Friday the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Garuba Lawal held that the Federal High Court was wrong.

They, therefore, dismissed the judgment of the lower court for lack of fair hearing

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The Appeal Court also ordered that the matter be taken back to the Federal High Court and be reassigned to another judge for retrial.

The judgment which was read by Justice Joseph Ikyegh, on behalf of the panel members held: “The appeal is allowed, and the judgment delivered by the lower court in October 2017 is hereby set aside”.

“The case is hereby ordered to be sent back to the administrative judge of the Lagos Division of the lower court to be assigned to a judge for expeditious determination on its merit.

‘Parties are to bear the administrative cost of the appeal.”

In its suit before the court of appeal, NIMASA claimed that NLNG is liable to pay three per cent gross freight on its international in-bound and out-bound cargo as sea protection levy.

It also claims NLNG is to pay two per cent cabotage surcharge on all activities carried out for and on its behalf as well as other sundry claims.

All of these claims were, however, disputed by the NLNG which claimed it lost about 475 million dollars while NIMASA blocked Bonny Channel.

NIMASA says that with today’s judgment, the status quo is to remain and NIMASA will continue to collect statutory levies from NLNG on behalf of FG.

Senate To Probe Alleged Diversion Of $1.5bn From NLNG

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The Senate is set to investigate the diversion of 1.5 billion dollars from the ‎Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividend to build up the shortfalls between the landing cost and pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).

Raising a Point of Order during Tuesday’s Legislative proceedings, the Chairman of the Committee on Gas, Senator Bassey Akpan, asked the Upper Chamber to give approval for the committee to investigate the ‎withdrawal and payments.

He said the funds belong to the three arms of government and described NNPC’s withdrawal of the funds as illegal.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his ruling, mandated the committee to proceed with the probe.

The investigation will run concurrently with another probe by a Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the use of 3.5 billion dollars by the NNPC for subsidy.

NNPC Should Give Account Of $16.8bn NLNG Dividends – NEITI

NEITI Tasks FG To Reclaim NNPC Unremitted Funds
FILE PHOTO

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Friday, December 29 released its 2015 Oil and Gas Industry Audit Report.

In the report, which was signed by the Director of Communications, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, the group made different recommendations, one of which is a demand for the Federal Government to give account of over $16.8 billion collected as dividends since the inception of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in 2000.

“In 2015, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) paid $1.07 billion as dividend, interest and loan repayment to NNPC, broken down as follows: $1.04 billion as dividends, $3.1 million as interests, and $29.1 million as loan repayment.

“This brings to a total of $16.8 billion NLNG’s payments to NNPC for the period 2000 to 2015. The payments are for the loan grant to NLNG and for the 49% stake that the government holds in the company,” the statement read in part.

NEITI in the statement said further that while NNPC has always confirmed receipt of the payments, it has never shown evidence of remittance to either the Federal Government or to the Federation Account.

NEITI therefore recommended that NNPC should provide documentary evidence of the authorisation to hold the money in trust and to give account of the expenditure from and the status of the $16.8 billion collected in 16 years.

The report also revealed that Nigeria’s oil and gas revenues dropped from $54.5 billion in 2014 to $24.8 billion in 2015 and that Nigeria’s oil production capacity fell from a total 798 million barrels in 2014 to 776 million barrels in 2015.

The report showed that total outstanding revenue from the sector as at 2015 stood at about $3.7 billion and N80 billion, with losses incurred at $2.2 billion and N60 billion, while unreconciled revenues amounted to about N317 billion.

$15.9bn Dividend Probe: NLNG Denies Owing FG

The Nigeria LNG says it has no outstanding dividend payments to the Federal Government.

The statement comes in reaction to reports by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to the House of Representatives to probe the alleged loss of $15.9 billion dividend accruing to the Federal Government.

According to the company’s General Manager on External Relations, Kudo Eresia-Eke, the NLNG supports the principles and objectives of NEITI, including the promotion of transparency in payments by extractive industry companies to governments and government-linked entities.

The company added that it will continue to conduct its business in accordance with regulation and the laws of the country.

Niger Delta Should Have Special Development Status – VP Osinbajo

VP Osinbajo Visits Gbaramatu Kingdom in Niger DeltaNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday paid a visit to the Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State, recommending that the region should have a special development zone status.

Osinbajo was accompanied by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and was received in Delta State by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

In his address of welcome, entitled: ‘We must prepare for the future’, he advocated sustainable development for the Niger Delta region.

“An Area Of Poor Infrastructure”

“The Niger Delta that we see today, including this great kingdom, is an area of poor infrastructure – few schools, few hospitals, and severe pollution.

“The Niger Delta of today, is one of daily pipeline vandalism. In 2014 alone, there were over 3,700 incidents of pipeline vandalism.

“The Niger Delta of today is one where, aside from environmental degradation, between 1998 and 2015, over 20,000 persons have died from fire incidents, arising from breach of the pipeline.

“Everywhere you go, there are signboards of proposed projects, mostly uncompleted or abandoned altogether.

“Many of the initiatives to change the story, have not been able to make the big changes required,” the Vice President stated.

Citing several examples, dating back to the 60’s, down to the present day amnesty programmes, the Professor Osinbajo said many of such programmes have not been able to meet up with their objectives.

However, he charged the people, stressing that “the future, is not a future of environmental degradation, poor infrastructure, poor roads”and the likes.

Rather, it is a future of “progress and development” but according to him, “there is no time, as the future is already here”.

He then stated that in order to ensure that the future is not worse than today, three things must happen.

Also he believes that while the government plays its own part, the people have to combine efforts with it, in order to realise the desired development.

One of such things, he stressed, was that the people “must recognise the unique environmental and terrain challenges of the Niger Delta.

“We must recognise that the Niger Delta is a special development zone for this nation.

“It means that the Federal and State governments, the National Assembly representatives, along-side the NDDC and the civil society representatives, of the Niger Delta people must sit together, develop, plan and fund an arrangement for rapid development,” he stressed.

Also, in furtherance of development in the region, Professor Osinbajo revealed that the Pan Niger Delta Forum had come up with 16 dialogue issues that would be extremely helpful in ascertaining its key development priorities.

He stated that the region must also hold some of the international oil companies, to their agreement with host communities.

“We must promote indigenous participation in oil companies,” he added.

He also hinted that in the 2017 budget, provision had been made for the commencement of the Lagos-Calabar railway. (the coastal railway).

Mr Osinbajo is expected to also visit a number of oil communities across some Niger Delta states, where he is expected to address issues affecting the region and bring an end to militant attacks on Nigeria’s oil and gas facilities.

According to a statement from the Office of the Vice President, Professor Osinbajo would also be visiting Bayelsa and Rivers States at a later date to be announced.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, described the move as further demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s readiness and determination to comprehensively address the Niger Delta situation.

Osinbajo Commences Interactions With Oil-Producing Communities

Osinbajo Commences Interactions With Oil-Producing CommunitiesVice President Yemi Osinbajo will be visiting a number of oil communities across some Niger Delta states starting on Monday, January 16, 2017, when he travels to Delta State.

According to a statement from the Office of the Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo would also be visiting Bayelsa and Rivers States at a later date to be announced soon.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, described the move as further demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s readiness and determination to comprehensively address the Niger Delta situation.

He stated: “At these visits, the Vice President will lead high-level delegations of the Federal Government that will interact with leaders and representatives of the oil-producing communities in continuation of ongoing outreach efforts of the Buhari administration towards a long lasting and permanent resolution of the Niger Delta crisis.

“The Buhari presidency is fully committed to having an effective dialogue and positive engagement that will end the crisis in the oil-producing areas, and believes that these visits would further boost the confidence necessary for the attainment of peace and prosperity in the areas and the Nigerian nation in general.”

El-Rufai Supports Auction Of Non-Productive National Assets

Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, AssetsAs the controversy to privatise some of Nigeria’s assets rages on, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, says a sale to boost liquidity would be in order.

The Governor, who is a former Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), made the observation on Tuesday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

However, he recommended that only non-productive assets should be sold.

Governor El-Rufai also condemned critics of the proposed plan whom he said should not just take ideological positions to analyse the privatisation.

Instead, he asked them to propose solutions to help Nigeria out of its present economic recession.

Area Of Focus

Meanwhile, an economist, Mr Bayo Rotimi, has highlighted the area of focus the government should consider in its proposed privatisation plan.

He advised the government to focus on institutions “that have constituted themselves into a drain pipe on the national treasury”, especially those that the Nigerian tax payers were keeping afloat.

Mr Rotimi also asked Nigerians to hold the government accountable on how the proceeds from the sale of assets would be utilised.

He criticised the idea of individual ministries selling their own assets, stressing that “the law has empowered the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the BPE to carry that out”.

The economist further emphasised the need for the preferred bidders to have the required technical capacity, the ‘management know how’ and the financial muscle to run the institutions effectively.

Nigeria Should Privatise Assets Through Proper Channels – Bayo Rotimi

Bayo-Rotimi-Nigeria-Assets-PivatisationAs Nigerians continue to react to the Federal Government’s proposed plan to sell some of its assets, an economic and financial analyst believes the process should be carried out properly and with utmost transparency.

Channels Television hosted Mr Bayo Rotimi on Tuesday who observed that the only way the government could earn the trust of its people was to let the privatisation of its institutions go through the proper channels.

“Government Must Deliver”

He noted that the law had provided for the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to be in charge of sale of government assets.

“Essentially for government to earn the trust of its people, the government must deliver on what it says.

“I am insisting (that privatisation) goes through proper channels; through the NCP and the BPE.

“Let us, the people of Nigeria, monitor the process (and) let us flag any irregularities that we notice (and) let us hold the bidders accountable,” he said.

Hold Government Accountable

The economist also asked the citizens to hold the government accountable on how the proceeds from the sale of assets would be utilised.

He criticised the idea of individual ministries selling their own assets, reiterating that “the law has empowered the NCP and the BPE to carry that out.

“The citizenry has to be alive to their responsibilities.

“I believe that citizens must hold their government accountable.

“If the privatisation agencies sell assets that belong to the collective, first and foremost, we must see that those assets were sold through a transparent process.”

“Drain Pipe On The National Treasury”

Bayo-Rotimi-Nigeria-Assets-Pivatisation2Mr Rotimi further stressed the need for the preferred bidders to have the required technical capacity, the ‘management know how’ and the financial muscle to run the institutions effectively.

He asked the government to focus its proposed privatisation plan on institutions “that have constituted themselves into a drain pipe on the national treasury”, especially those that the Nigerian tax payers were keeping afloat.

“With regards to potential sale of stake in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), personally, I do not support that (because) it is a company that is thriving.

“It is a company that is delivering dividend to the Nigerian people and those dividends have come in very handy in the last year and it will continue for the foreseeable future,” the economist said on Sunrise Daily.

Labour Union Kicks Against Proposed Sale Of Some National Assess

Issa Aremu on sale of National AssetsA National Executive member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Issa Aremu, has kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to sell some national assets to finance the country out of economic recession.

Mr Aremu, in a press statement on Monday, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against what he called “feverish prescriptions of few economic hit men”.

He claimed that the ‘hit men’, contrary to the spirit and content of the 1999 constitution, deliberately undermine national development through recommendations that would strip the nation of its critical assets.

The labour leader argued that Nigeria was not short of resources, but only lacked “genuine resourceful leaders at all levels that were committed to nation building.

Mr Aremu pointed out that the country would further slide into underdevelopment if the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Company which paid the sum of $1.289 billion as dividends for 2013 was sold to the highest bidder for another easy money.

He also commended the economic patriotism of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) for rising in defence of retention of critical national assets such as NLNG.

While calling on the nation’s ruling and economic elite to enunciate big development plans and think outside the box of easy monies to spend, Mr Aremu, however, advocated a bipartisan approach on the economy to include labour and industry.

A leading union of oil workers had on Sunday threatened to shut down the country if the Federal Government carries out the plan to sell some national assets as a way out of the current economic recession.

The oil workers under the aegis of The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), described the plan to sell the national assets as a self-destructive move.

In a statement, PENGASSAN said that the plan, which would solve short term financial obligations, was really aimed at handing over Nigeria’s collective common wealth to a few individuals.

Fiscal Stimulus Plan

On Saturday, Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, said that the primary objective of government’s fiscal stimulus plan was not to sell off all major critical national assets but to source immediate funds to reflate the economy and implement capital projects in the 2016 budget.

Senator Udoma gave the explanation in Lagos while briefing reporters on the forthcoming Nigerian Economic Summit.

He said the intention of the government was just to get enough money to fund the 2016 budget and get the economy back on the path of recovery.

According to him,  the government needed to inject a large dose of funds into the system to get the economy back on track and to faithfully implement the provisions in the capital budget tailored at reflating the economy and aiding the diversification process.

Senator Udoma further explained that Nigeria had lost almost half its expected revenue and would need to urgently source for the shortfall to enable the government faithfully implement the budget.

“This unfortunate scenario prompted the Economic Management Team to urgently work out a fiscal stimulus plan to generate immediate large injection of funds into the economy through asset sales, advance payment for license rounds, infrastructure concessioning, use of recovered funds, among others, to reduce the funding gap.

“The other option would have been to source for additional loans, beyond the level of borrowing already projected for in the 2016 Budget.

“This would not be a wise option as it would raise the level of debt service to an unsustainable level.” a statement by the Minister’s spokesman, Akpandem James, read.

NLGN Seeks Intervention Into Legislators’ Plan To Repeal Act

NLNGThe Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has urged Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, to intervene in the ongoing plan by the National Assembly to repeal the NLNG Act.

The NLNG also expressed concern over Nigeria’s risk of capital flight in the oil and gas sector.

The company identified the loss of potential investments of over 20 billion Naira and at least 18,000 jobs, as the consequence of the plan to repeal the NLNG Act.

The top management officials of the NLNG, led by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tony Attah, made the appeal on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Attah said the Act of parliament which the legislators plan to repeal, served as the pillar of the NLGN, known to be the biggest and most successful made in Nigeria product.

They warned that the move would bring a plethora of arbitration to Nigeria and a further loss of reputation in the business would.

In his response, the Information Minister assured them that no action would be taken to jeopardise the success of the company.

He added that the matter ought to be resolved internally, through a private engagement with the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council.

NLNG Constructs Engineering Laboratories In ABU

NLNGThe Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas limited (NLNG) has constructed multi-million Naira engineering laboratories at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

At the commissioning of the multi-user laboratories, the Managing Director (MD) of NLNG, Mr Babs Omotowa, said the project, which cost 340 million Naira, was part of the company’s contribution to complement the various efforts of the government in stimulating the growth of research and science education in Nigeria.

Mr Omotowa also explained that the laboratory, which was equipped with the state of the art facility, would provide the staff and students of the university easy access to world class facilities that would, among other benefits, enhance their academic performance and improve their skills.

The building has six different laboratories – Materials Characterisation Laboratory, Soil Testing Laboratory, Materials Testing Laboratory, Mechatronics Laboratory, ICT Laboratory and Environmental Laboratory.

The project, which is part of NLNG’s University Support Programme, is driven by the company’s desire to develop engineering education in Nigeria.

The MD also disclosed that the company would spend 340 million Naira on the construction of modern engineering laboratories, equipped with cutting-edge technology, in five other universities.

University of Ibadan, University of Ilorin, University of Port-Harcourt, University of Maiduguri and University of Nigeria, Nsukka are the benefiting universities.

He explained that the universities were selected based on rankings by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and their long standing contributions to the development of local capacity in Nigeria.

The Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Professor Ibrahim Garba, told the gathering that the commissioning of the multi-user laboratories was the first of its kind, since the inception of the institution.

He noted that the facility would avail students and lecturers of the institution the opportunity to conduct their research in the field of engineering technology.

He also called on other corporate organisations to emulate NLNG.

The Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwuka, while commending the management of NLNG for the laudable initiative, that the administration of President Buhari was committed to giving the education sector face-lift.

NLNG Staff Visit IDPs Camp In Yola With Gifts

NLNG Staff Visit IDP Camp In Yola

Members of staff of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) have visited the Damare camp of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Yola, Adamawa State in north-east Nigeria.

Reprieve came for the IDPs as the group under the auspices of ‘Let’s Care Initiative’ visited them with gifts worth millions of Naira.

Education Scholarship

The NLNG employees said they had come to share what they had with the people at the camp, as part of the efforts of the company to ‘give, care and help’.

They also hinted that they had joined the league of groups identifying with IDPs affected by insurgency crisis in the three mostly affected north-east states in Nigeria – Adamawa, Borno and Yola.

They had offered a five-year secondary education scholarship to 30 IDPs kids drawn from the three states.