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Buhari submits Petroleum Industry Bill to National Assembly – Scraps NNPC, PPPRA

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Buhari has transmitted the much awaited Petroleum Industry Bill 2020 to the National Assembly and has proposed the creation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.

The bill, which was sighted by our correspondent on Sunday, also proposes the scrapping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the  Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency.

The bill states that the NNPC Limited will be incorporated by the Minister of Petroleum, who together with his finance counterparts, will determine   NNPC’s assets and liabilities that will be inherited by the new firm.

Section 54(1, 2 and3 )) reads in part, “The Minister (of Petroleum) and the Minister of Finance shall determine the assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC to be transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiaries and upon the identification, the minister shall cause such assets, interests and liabilities to be transferred to NNPC Limited.

“Assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC not transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiary under subsection 1 of this section shall remain the assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC until they become extinguished or transferred to the government.

“NNPC shall cease to exist after its remaining assets, interests and liabilities other than its interests, assets, and liabilities transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiaries under subsection 1 of this section shall have been extinguished or transferred to the government.”

According to Section  53  of the bill,  the minister shall “within six months from the commencement of this Act, cause to be incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, a limited liability company, which shall be called Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC Limited).

“The minister shall be at the incorporation of NNPC Limited, consult with the Minister of Finance to determine the number and nominal value of the shares to be allotted which shall form the initial paid-up share capital of the NNPC Limited and the government shall subscribe and pay cash for the shares.

“Ownership of all shares in NNPC Limited shall be vested in the government at incorporation and held by the Ministry of Finance incorporated on behalf of the government.”

The bill also proposes the establishment of an agency known as the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission which will be responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of upstream petroleum operations.

Section 4 of the bill states in part, “There is established the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (the commission) which shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.

“The commission shall have the power to acquire, hold and dispose of property, sue and be sued in its own time. The commission shall be responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of upstream petroleum operations.”

The proposed law also recommends the creation of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority known as ‘The Authority’.

Section 29 of the bill states in part, “There is established the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (the Authority) which is a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.

“The Authority shall be responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of midstream and downstream petroleum operations in the petroleum industry.”

The new bill technically scraps the PPPRA with the creation of the new agencies that will now carry out the PPPRA’s functions.

Efforts to reform the oil industry date back two decades, when the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, inaugurated the Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee in April 2000. The committee was tasked to review and streamline all existing petroleum laws and establish an all-inclusive regulatory framework for the industry.

The administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua continued the project and the PIB was presented to the Sixth National Assembly in September 2008. But the bill stalled over disagreements on the sharing of oil profit among the international oil companies, host communities and the federation, according to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

In July 2012, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan forwarded a revised version of the PIB to the Seventh Assembly, but it suffered the same fate that befell it in the previous legislative cycle.  It was passed by only the House of Representatives at the tail end of their term.

The slump in global crude oil prices, from a high of $115 per barrel in mid-2014 to $28pb in January 2016, combined with the regulatory uncertainty occasioned by the delay in passing the PIB to worsen the state of the industry.

In the first term of Buhari, the Eighth NASS split the bill into four parts – the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and Petroleum Host Community Bill — in a bid to fast-track its passage into law. The PIGB was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in May 2017 and January 2018 respectively.

After its passage by the NASS, the PIGB was transmitted to Buhari for assent in July 2018, but he eventually declined to sign the bill into law. According to the Presidency, the provision of the PIGB permitting the Petroleum Regulatory Commission to retain as much as 10 per cent of the revenue generated is one of the reasons Buhari declined to assent to the bill.

Attempts to get comments of the  Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, did not succeed on Sunday night. He had yet to reply a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

Also, the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Reps), Umar el-Yakub, could not be reached. He neither picked callsto his mobile phone nor replied a text message sent to him.

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday

By Richard Partington

The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.

The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.

Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.

The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.

Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.

The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.

The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.

It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”

  • TheGuardian

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT

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UNITES ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT

BY SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK

The United Arab Emirates has agreed to resume visa issuance to Nigerians, the government has said.

Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, announced this via his Twitter handle on Wednesday.

He disclosed that the move was to allow Emirates Airlines resume operations in Nigeria

He said, “UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.

“Commencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation. Many thanks.”

  • SaharaReporters

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UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN

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UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN

Mr Danu had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it with customs.

The United Kingdom has returned the sum of $100,000 confiscated by airport security from Nigerian businessman, Nasiru Danu, after a court gave judgment in his favour in a confiscation suit.

Court documents and banking details seen by this newspaper showed that the money was paid with interest that accrued in the last one year as ordered by a magistrate court on September 7.

Mr Danu was intercepted by officials of the United Kingdom Border Force and Immigration officials on arrival at the London airport on September 13, 2019 after his then newly-acquired Maltese passport with which he travelled there turned out to be fake.

The businessman, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, was duped of $35,000 by a ‘travel agency’ which offered to help him obtain a Maltese passport. Unknown to him the passport delivered to him by the agency was fake.

On returning to Nigeria, Mr Danu petitioned the State Security Service (SSS) over the passport fraud and his resultant arrest and deportation from the UK.

The SSS later referred the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is now pressing charges against one Rabbi Okpara.

PREMIUM TIMES had in December reported how Ms Okpara was docked by the EFCC before an FCT High Court for allegedly defrauding Mr Danu and other unsuspecting Nigerians.

Ms Okpara is the owner of Green Valley Concept Limited, a purported travel agency.

EFCC investigators said Ms Okpara used her travel agency to lure unsuspecting members of the public to buy into a sham travel/residency arrangement in Malta.

The EFCC said Ms Okpara in her statement to the agency admitted to liaising with a third party, one Mr Ugbaja, in obtaining these fake travel document for her clients.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara and Jude Ugbaja(at large) sometime in August 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired between yourselves to do an illegal act, to wit; causing to be used as genuine forged documents, thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP, MI7 laws of Federation Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same act.”

Count two reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara, Jude Ugbaja ( at large), Green Valley Concept Ltd and Palmary Travels and Tours Ltd, sometimes in August 2019 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court forged a maltase passport with the name Nasiru Haladu Danu with number 9647443 dated 27 April/AVR 2018 with intent that it be used as genuine; thereby committed an offence contrary to 320(a) of the Penal Code, Law of the Federation 1990 and punishable under section 322 of the same law.”

Seized cash returned

Aside deporting Mr Danu to Nigeria on his arrest at the airport in September, the UK authorities also took possession of $100,000 found on the businessman.

The businessman had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it appropriately with customs authorities in Nigeria before travelling with it to the UK.

Mr Danu also explained that he travelled with that amount of cash because his credit card had failed him repeatedly, leaving him stranded on a number of occasions.

But despite his explanations, the UK authorities seized the cash and approached a court for confiscation hearing.

However, the legal team for Mr Danu challenged the UK Border agency’s move to permanently confiscate the money. They succeeded.

“The court found that the security officials were wrong to seize the money as the money was from legitimate income which was not intended for an unlawful purpose and should therefore be returned to the owners,” said Mr Danu’s lawyer, Femi Joshua.

Mr Danu’s Nigerian Bank account was credited with the money with interest in two tranches of $50,471 on September 23, according to documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES.

When contacted Tuesday, Mr Danu said he was pleased that the court noted that he was a victim of crime by a syndicate which swindled him and sold him a fake passport.

“The court saw that I am a legitimate and honest businessman and that the cash found on me were legitimately earned and properly declared,” Mr Danu said.

  • PremiumTimesNg

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