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Army partner Airbus on aviation unit development

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Army partner Airbus on aviation unit development

The Nigerian Army is to partner Airbus on the acquisition of platforms for its newly established aviation unit; Nigerian Army Aviation.

The Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Army, Lt.-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, gave the indication when he received the delegation from Airbus on Wednesday in Abuja.

The delegation of the airbus was led by its President for Africa and Middle East, Mr Mikail Houari.

While appreciating Airbus’s interest in the army aviation, Adeosun said that Nigerian army would explore ways to partners the company to develop its new aviation unit.

“We appreciate your interest in partnering the armed forces of Nigeria and the Nigerian Army.

“Nigerian Army is developing it aviation unit and whatever assistant you can offer in the area of training of crew and pilot is very much welcomed.

“This is the beginning of more things to come because you are not new in Africa.

“Our interest is in the military specs and not civil aviation or general specs,” he said.

Adeosun, who raised the issue of possible legal bottleneck, said that if the army would enter into partnership with airbus, the issue of American limitations must be addressed.

“We will discuss further on this partnership and where ever we can collaborate, it will be exploited,” he added.

Earlier, Houari said the visit was to seek for long-term partnership with the Nigerian army, adding that Nigeria was important to Airbus.

He disclosed that the company was into manufacturing of different specifications of aircraft such as military helicopters and other platforms.

Houari, however, called for further engagements and discussions to see the areas of collaboration with the army in terms of aircraft supplies for its aviation unit.

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Money laundering: EFCC begins trial of Atiku’s son-in-law, Babalele

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Money laundering: EFCC begins trial of Atiku’s son-in-law, Babalele

T

he Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday commenced the trial of Abdullahi Babalele, the son-in-law to a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over alleged money laundering offence at a Federal High Court in Lagos.

 

 

Babalele was on October 8 docked before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on a 2-count charge of alleged laundering of $140,000 in the build-up to this year’s polls.

 

Trial resumed yesterday with the EFCC calling one, Bashir Mohammed, who described himself as Babalele’s close friend into the witness box.

 

In his evidence, Mohammed narrated how he delivered the naira equivalent of $140,000 cash to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Babalele’s behalf.

 

The witness told Justice Aneke that he got a phone call from Babalele sometimes in February, requesting him to deliver a message to “an elder statesman.”

 

He added that upon Babalele’s request, he supplied two bank accounts, which were credited. Mohammed said he subsequently took the money to Obasanjo’s residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

“When I got to the gate, somebody came and took me inside where I met former President Olusegun Obasanjo and delivered the message.

 

“I called the defendant (Babalele) in the presence of former President Obasanjo and informed him that I had delivered the message. He said that was good and thanked me,” the witness said.

 

While being cross-examined by Babalele’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the witness admitted making statement to the EFCC while investigation into the matter lasted.

 

However, the silk’s bid to tender the statement as an exhibit was opposed to by the prosecution’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo.

Justice Aneke is expected to rule on the admissibility of the document today.

 

 

The 2 counts against Babalele reads thus:

 

 

“That you Abdullahi Babalele on or about the 20th day of February, 2019, in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, procured Bashir Mohammed to make cash payment of the sum of $140,000. 00 (One Hundred and Forty Thousand United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

 

“That you Abdullahi Babalele on or about the 20th day of February, 2019 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, aided Bashir Mohammed to make cash payment of the sum of $140,000. 00 (One Hundred and Forty Thousand United State Dollars) without going through financial institution, which sum exceeded the amount authorized by law and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act”.

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MOSOP urges FG to set up Ogoni Development Commission

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ovement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has appealed to the Federal Government to set up a development Commission in Ogoniland, stressing that such agency would fast track development in the area after decades of neglect.

Its President, Fegalo Nsuke, who made the appeal at a commemorative church service at the Methodist Church, Wesley Cathedral in Bori, to mark 24th anniversary of Ogoni martyrs day, said that Ogoni needed a development agency like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

 

He said that MOSOP intends to release a document containing the details about the proposed agency, noting that it wants it to serve as a roadmap to resolve the Ogoni conflicts so that   peace and development reign in Ogoniland.

Nsuke said: “If we can have a Niger Delta Development Commission, a Niger Delta Basic Development Authority, then we can also have an Ogoni Development Authority.”

 

Nsuke also called for an end to Ogoni killings by Shell and the Nigerian military in efforts to force oil resumption in Ogoniland.

 

He equally called on the Federal Government to halt all forms of pressure on Ogoniland in q bid to forcefully resume oil production, just as he said that the decriminalization of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other eight has become a key component of Ogoni demands..

 

He further said the Ogoni people have not endorsed any oil firm for oil resumption, insisting that moves to forcefully resume oil production in Ogoni will reinforce the belief that  Ogoni are killed for their oil.

“As a people, we have not endorsed any oil company, be it Belema Oil, Robo Michael, Xavon Energy, NPDC, or any other for oil exploration in Ogoni and all backdoor moves to force these guys or any other on us should be seen as the work of mischief makers,” he said.

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Senate seeks 5-year ban on importation of textile materials

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Senate seeks 5-year ban on importation of textile materials

…asks Buhari to hold on to border closure

 

T

he Senate, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to totally ban the importation of textile materials into the country for five years, to support local manufacturers.

This was as the apex legislative chamber, based on what it perceived as enormous benefits of the current land closure by President Muhammadu Buhari, urged the President to maintain the closure to a reasonable time period.

It also urged the Federal Government to encourage local textile manufacturing companies by providing them with soft loans and easy access to credit facilities through the Bank of Industry (BoI).

The Chamber further requested the Federal Government to provide necessary infrastructural facilities, especially power supply to local textile manufacturing companies.

The lawmakers made these resolutions following their consideration of a motion, “Urgent need to revamp the Nation’s Comatose Textile Industry”, sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Barkiya (APC, Katsina Central).

Presenting the motion, Barkiya noted that the textile industry in Nigeria played a significant role in the manufacturing sector of the economy with a record of over 140 companies in the 1960s and 1970s.

He lamented that the textile industry witnessed massive decline in the last two decades with many textile companies such as Kaduna Textile, Kano Textile, Aba Textile, United Nigeria Textiles, First Spinners amongst others, closing shops and throwing their workers into the job market.

The politician pointed out that the discovery of oil in Nigeria also greatly affected the Textile Industry as a result of decline in the production of cotton which was a major source of raw materials for the industry.

He said that the high cost of production and trade liberalization resulted in massive importation of Textile materials, which in turn negatively affected the production of local textiles.

Barkiya suggested that if the textile industry would be resuscitated, it would provide additional revenue and assist government in its bid to diversify the economy.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that for the country to overcome the challenges posed by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement entered into by the Federal Government, local producers must live up to the billing of the forces of a competitive market.

According to Lawan, until Nigeria addressed the issue of unsteady power supply and smuggling, there’s little that can be achieved through the closure of its borders to goods coming in from neighbouring African countries.

He said: “We have signed into the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.  We cannot easily stop trading with other people. So, we need to be competitive.

“The problem of textile industry in Nigeria is not the market; the market is huge. The problem is largely the issue of power, because you need power to be competitive.

“Secondly, we have to stop smuggling. These two are twin evils that we must address really. But we have to be in a hurry, because by signing the trade agreement, we have consciously gone into an agreement where other countries will produce their goods in their country and bring them to Nigeria.

“We really need to push for the fixing of power sector in this country. I agree we should close the border, but that is going to bring only temporary relief for us. It is not going to be permanent while solving our problems.

“The executive and legislature must brainstorm on ways to fix these issues faster because time is of the essence here.

“Even if we stop the importation of textile produced outside for five years, what happens after that? If our companies in the country can’t produce competitively, then there would still be problem.”

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Reps probe alleged corruption in N-Power scheme

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Reps probe alleged corruption in N-Power scheme

T

he House of Representatives yesterday constituted an investigative panel to look into allegations of corruption in the N-Power programme of the Federal Government.

The decision was taken after the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance entitled “urgent need to investigate the arbitrariness and possible corruption in the N-Power programme of the Federal Government”, sponsored by Hon. Taiwo Oluga (APC, Osun).

The House consequently mandated the House committees on sustainable development goals and youth development to immediately investigate the alleged arbitrariness in the management of the scheme and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.

 

In her lead debate on the motion, Oluga noted that “in recent times, there are increasing cases of N-Power Beneficiaries/Teachers who are diligent in their places of official assignment and who have no queries or negative reports, yet at the end of the month, their payments are withheld and all efforts to get reinstated has proven abortive.”

 

She alleged that these N-Power beneficiaries, their school principals and the independent monitors have confirmed that there are no queries and yet some of the N-power beneficiaries have been blocked and exited from the platform for no reason whatsoever; yet, they keep reporting in their place of duty and have now been owed several months allowances, without pay.

Citing examples, Oluga disclosed that “In Osun State alone, over 400 N-Power beneficiaries/teachers are being owed monthly allowances, ranging from 12 months, 15 months and 18 months respectively due to arbitrary withholding of their account and unlawful exit from the platform, despite diligence at the place of official assignment, which is contrary to the objectives of the N-Power, N-Teach Programme.”

 

 

She observed that the National Social Investment Programme which was established in 2015 was in fulfilment of the administration’s campaign promises to Nigerians through the implementation of the N-Teach, N-Agro, N-Tech, N-Build and N-Creativity Programmes.

The lawmaker noted the N-Teach programme involves the engagement of educated Nigerians with minimum NCE, OND, HND, B.sc, M.sc and PhD Degrees who are engaged and posted to teach in different schools in the 36 States and F.C.T.

 

 

According to her: “The N-Power programme as a form of quality assurance and check, equally engaged independent monitors, one per local government, who monitor the attendance of the N-Power teachers at their various places of assignment, by paying unscheduled visits to them.

“The independent monitors are now required to investigate the teachers and report truancy, indiscipline or misconduct to the NSIP Office in Abuja through their electronic tablets.

“Upon receipt of the queries by the NSIP Office, they conduct an investigation to ascertain the merits of the query and now withhold payment of the erring N-Power teacher/beneficiary by holding his profile for 45 days and if there is no change or satisfactory response within the period, they are exited from the programme.”

She, however, regretted that in recent times, there are increasing cases of N-Power beneficiaries/teachers who are diligent in their places of official assignment and who have no queries or negative reports, yet at the end of the month, their payments are withheld and all efforts to get reinstated has proven abortive.

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Secondus to INEC: Act expeditiously on High Court judgement

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Secondus to INEC: Act expeditiously on High Court judgement

T

he National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to act quickly on the Abuja High Court ruling, which disqualified the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bishop Degi in the Saturday governorship election in Beyelsa State.

 

 

Secondus, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Ike Abonyi, said the electoral umpire should invoke the relevant sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act to disqualify the APC candidate.

 

 

According to him, what the court ruling meant was that APC has no validly nominated candidate for the November 16 governorship election.

 

As the stage is set for the election, the PDP National Chairman, therefore, called on the military and other security agencies to show high level of professionalism in the Saturday’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States respectively.

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Senate probes N40bn abandoned Baro Port project

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Senate probes N40bn abandoned Baro Port project

T

he Senate, yesterday, mandated its Committees on Marine Transport, Works and Public Procurement to investigate the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, with regards to the abandoned Baro Port project, and make adequate recommendations to facilitate its early completion.

The Senate also urged the Federal Government to make funds available to contractors handling the Baro River Port project for final completion.

 

The Red Chamber further urged the Federal Government to transfer the roads project aspect of the contract to Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) for better funding and execution.

 

Similarly, the lawmakers advised the government to facilitate the rehabilitation of Narrow Gauge Railway in Baro to ensure rapid socio-economic growth of the country while there should be continuous dredging and maintenance by NIWA of the Rivers Niger and Benue to ensure its navigability.

 

The Senate’s resolutions were sequel to a motion, entitled: “Urgent need to complete all the necessary components of Baro River Port project of the Lower River Niger”, sponsored by Senator Muhammad Bima (APC, Niger South) and 22 other lawmakers during plenary.

 

 

While presenting the motion, Bima expressed concerns that over N40 billion had so far been expended on the various components of the Baro Port without achieving any significant progress towards utilisation of the port.

 

The politician wondered why such a laudable project with all its potential benefits would be so neglected.

 

He noted that the Federal Government awarded the contract for the dredging of the Lower River Niger, construction of the Baro Port, installation of cargo handling equipment and connecting access roads to ensure movement of goods and services to the Northern parts of the country in addition to the general improvement of socio-economic activities of the region.

 

According to him: “Baro Port project is expected to create 3,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs as well as improving our roads network by keeping heavy duty trailers and trucks off roads, thereby expanding the life span of the roads.”

 

 

He also hinted that the capital dredging of the Lower River Niger from Warri to Baro had been completed while the Baro Port and its cargo handling equipment had also been completed and commissioned on January 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

The legislator further stated that the access roads which would facilitate movement of goods from Baro to the Northern parts were awarded in 2015 and 2018 for Lambata-Bida and Agaie-Katcha-Baro respectively.

 

 

He however, lamented that the two major access roads, Lambata-Agaie and Agaie-Katcha-Baro had only achieved about 20 per cent and 2 per cent progress respectively.

 

 

He also regretted that funding of the access roads had been grossly inadequate as N670 million and N4.5 billion had so far been released for the project out of the contract sum of N17billion and N33billion respectively.

 

Contributing, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central), noted that the project was awarded during the administration of late President Musa Yar’Adua to create jobs and ensure easy movement of goods from Baro to other parts of the North, but expressed surprise that it was abandoned by his predecessors despite its economic benefits.

 

Senator Mohammed Musa (APC, Niger East) while contributing, urged the Federal Government to ensure early completion of the project, noting that doing so would advance economic prosperity of the people and industrial growth in parts of the country.

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Oyetola tasks lawmakers on effective roadmap for Osun

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Oyetola tasks lawmakers on effective roadmap for Osun

O

sun State Governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola has urged members of the state House of Assembly to design a legislative roadmap that will drive their visions and programmes for effective performance in the state chamber.

 

 

Governor Oyetola gave the charge yesterday at the opening of a three-day legislative retreat by the state House of Assembly held at Iloko- Ijesha area of the state.

 

He said, “Legislative representation is a position of responsibilities which would be considered effective if it is result-oriented, people directed, research backed, rules propelled, consensus enhanced and relationship-driven.”

 

 

Governor Oyetola added that, “the aforementioned are crucial to legislative representation during debates, committee duties, oversight functions, bills sponsorship and advocacy on the sidelines such as lobbying, and other behind the scenes engagements.”

 

 

He further enjoined the lawmakers to remember that their performances will significantly determine their political future and fortunes.

 

In his address, the speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Timothy Owoeye promised that “quality legislations, modesty and transparency would be embraced by his colleagues to add more values to the development of the state.

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Edo crisis deepens as APC suspends Oshiomhole

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Edo crisis deepens as APC suspends Oshiomhole

•APC chair loyalists demand Obaseki’s expulsion

 

T

he crisis in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress(APC) took a turn for the worse yesterday, following a gale suspension that highlighted  the  feud between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his estranged godfather and National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

 

 

Some members APC in the state announced the suspension of  Oshiomhole, over his role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.

 

 

Similarly, the State Chapter of the party also removed the State Secretary of the party, Mr. Lawrence Okah.

 

In a statement signed by the Assistant State Secretary, Mr. Ikuenobe Anthony Esq.,  some members said the decision was taken after a meeting of the State Executive Committee, where a vote of no confidence was passed on Okah.

 

 

Also, the decision to suspend Oshiomhole followed the vote of no confidence passed on him by the Chairmen of the APC in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Edo State.

 

According to a statement signed by Edo APC Chairman, Anselm Ojezua and Assistant State Secretary, Ikuenobe Anthony: “Consequent on the development, the State Executive Committee has adopted the vote of no confidence passed on him and the subsisting suspension order from the organs of the party in the state.”

 

They said the decision was necessary to prevent a repeat of what happened in Zamfara State, where the party was unable to field any candidate in elections.

 

“Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is the one behind the crisis in Edo APC. We have passed a vote of no confidence in him and he stands suspended from the party.

 

“We don’t want what happened in Zamfara State or other parts of the country to happen in Edo State.”

Meanwhile, Ikuenobe said: “The State Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has this morning, 12th of November, 2019, passed a vote of no confidence in the State Secretary, Mr. Lawrence Okah, in accordance with Article 17 (v) of the constitution of the party.”

 

 

He stated further: “The effect of this is that Mr. Lawrence Okah ceases to be the State Secretary of the party henceforth.

 

“An appropriate replacement will be effected in due course in accordance with Article 17 (vi) of the said constitution.”

 

In another development, two members of the State Working Committee of the party yesterday narrated how they were forced to sign document to remove Ojezua.

 

They made startling revelations of how they were abducted and forced to sign a document to purportedly remove the state chairman of the party.

 

This followed a drama that played out in Benin the state capital yesterday that Ojezua had allegedly been removed from office by a group said to loyal to Oshiomhole.

 

 

The SWC members which include the State Auditor and Financial Secretary respectively said they were compelled under duress to sign what they described as the purported document with the aim of removing Ojezua from office.

 

 

State Auditor of the party, Timothy Osadolor, said he and his colleague, Princess Golda Oribhabor-Onwuka, who is the state financial Secretary  were taken away in a commando fashion  to the resident of the State Secretary of the party, Lawrence Okah, who had been removed as scribe of the party.

 

 

Osadolor said they were forced to append their signatures.

 

 

But in a separate statement signed by the chairman of the chairmen and chairman of the party in Etsako West, Mr Ibrahim Akokia and  Suleman Bagudu (Etsako Central),  said: “We are the chairmen of the party in the 18 LGAs and we are not aware of the meeting where a vote of no confidence was passed on the national chairman of our party, Comrade Oshiomhole, who is doing very well. Rather, we are aware that majority of the chairmen haven suffered intimidation, harassment and assault in the hands of the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration. Therefore, we chairmen have passed a vote of no confidence on Governor Obaseki, the suspended state chairman of the party, Anslem Ojezua. They have not only failed the party but the people of the state. Besides, from the disclosure from the some PDP leaders, Obaseki and Ojezua, have been involved in anti-party activities. Therefore, they lack the moral rights to remain in this party. Oshiomhole remains our leader and we pass vote of confidence in his leadership.”

 

 

According to them: “It is sad that the governor and his cohorts are using money to induce our members but majority of them we are happy have resisted his moves to intimidate them. We call on the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to expel Obaseki from APC because he is on a mission to destroy APC in Edo State but we will resist it.”

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42 firms jostle for NNPC’s oil assets insurance deals

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42 firms jostle for NNPC’s oil assets insurance deals

F

orty-two local and foreign firms yesterday joined the race to emerge as lead insurer for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) multi-billion dollars oil assets contracts for 2020/2021.

 

Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, who declared this during the public bid opening exercise for companies, maintained that the selection of the contracts’ winner would be transparent, “just as is the practice in other areas of the corporation’s operation nationwide.”

 

 

“I am reassuring this country and the rest of our stakeholders that we are poised to make sure that this company acts and works transparently; we will remain accountable to our stakeholders. As a matter of duty for me and the management team, we will deliver on this,” the GMD said.

 

Kyari advised the companies that participated in the bid to accept the results as only the best would emerge winner.

 

Also speaking at the event, the Chief Financial Officer of the corporation, Mr. Umar Ajiya, said a key attribute of an organization like the NNPC was the protection of human assets, adding that the exercise was in pursuance of that objective.

 

 

He disclosed that a total of 42 companies submitted bids for the lead insurer contract, adding that each of the bids would be assessed on its own merit.

On hand to witness the bid opening process to ensure conformity with the public procurement law were representatives of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), National Insurance Commission, and civil society organisations.

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S’Court orders NNPC to pay BCE N8.1bn damages

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S’Court orders NNPC to pay BCE N8.1bn damages

…over failed contract

 

 

T

he Supreme Court, yesterday, upheld its earlier judgement which ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to pay N8.1 billion as damages to BCE Consulting Engineers over a failed Consultancy Service Contract.

The verdict of the court was premised on a suit filed by the NNPC praying the apex court to review its July 5 judgement over alleged error of fact.

 

The applicant had submitted that the court did not hear their preliminary objection and that their cross appeal was dismissed without hearing.

However, delivering judgement in the suit, Justice C. C. Nweze dismissed the appeal on ground that the apex court cannot be cajoled with such kind of application.

He held that the suit was an abuse of justice.

The court, therefore, awarded costs of N500,000 to be paid personally by counsel to the NNPC.

At the adoption stage, the Respondent, BCE filed a counter-affidavit, praying the court to disregard NNPC’s application.

 

It further prayed the court to uphold the award of the N8.1 billion judgement sum because NNPC breached an agreement with it.

BCE had, in July 1999, filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos in Suit No. FHC/L/C/I316/2000 against NNPC following the Corporation’s termination of the contract at the directive of the Federal Government.

On March 7, 2002, the court directed NNPC to pay BCE the sum of N8.1 billion in damages for the illegal cancellation of the agreement.

 

When it approached the Court of Appeal, NNPC was, however, asked to deposit the said sum into court as condition for appeal to which the NNPC complied.

 

On June 9, 2011, the court upheld NNPC’s appeal on grounds that the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction over disputes arising from simple contracts.

On June 13, 2011, BCE applied to the Supreme Court to set aside the previous judgement in favour of the Corporation.

 

Upon the delivery of the judgement of the Supreme Court, dated July 5, 2019, NNPC, alongside its counsel, Babalakin and Co, reviewed same and had good reason to believe that substantial miscarriage of justice had been done by the terms of the said judgment.

Accordingly, NNPC applied for Judicial Review, which is a procedure provided under the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules for review of extant judgements.

Also, the corporation submitted an independent request, addressed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, seeking intervention to facilitate timely action.

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