Undeclared Oil Shipment: FG sues Agip, Total For $635m
The Federal Government is demanding $635 million from two multinational oil companies, Agip and Total, for undeclared crude oil shipped out of the country between 2011 and 2014.
Two cases have been filed at the Federal High court in Lagos by senior lawyer and Senior advocate of Nigeria, Professor Fabian Ajogwu, who had handled several cases for the Federal Government on aviation, defence, energy, and financial services.
Hearing will begin next week before Justice Olatoregun Isola.
And there are indications that Ajogwu will also be filing claims against other multinationals, such as Chevron and Exxon-Mobil.
The statements of claim filed before the court are accompanied by the sworn affidavits of three US based professionals.
The Nigerian Government contends that sometime in 2014,it realised a decline in its oil export revenue. This necessitated an intelligent gathering of data, which showed that part of the reasons for the decline was the under-declaration of crude oil shipments made by some major oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.
Professor David Olowokere, a US citizen who is the lead Analyst at Loumos Group LLC, a technology and oil and gas auditing firm based in United States of America, Jerome Stanley, a counsel in the law firm of Henchy & Hackenberg, a law firm based in United States of America and head of the legal team engaged by Loumo Group LLC, made the court statements.
The third deponent is Michael Kanko a citizen and resident of the State of Arizona United States of America, who is the founder and the current Chief Executive Officer of Trade Data Services Company.
A forensic analysis of export records from Nigeria and the import records from respective ports of entry at the United States of America used by Agip and Total showed discrepancies.
The volume of crude Oil declared to have been exported from Nigeria, was less than what was declared to have been imported into United States of America via the same shipment by the same vessel on the same bill of lading.
Some other shipments were not declared by the defendants to the requisite authorities, particularly the pre-shipment inspection agents. In some instances, the crude oil shipments were completely undeclared.
The plaintiff (Nigerian Government ) alleged further that all crude oil and gas shipments /exports from Nigeria are required to be declared and inspected by pre -shipment Agents appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria of revenue due from the crude oil shipments.
The inspection records are to be deposited with ministry of finance Nigeria .
The Nigerian Government averred that high-technology information technology system including satellite tracking systems were deployed by consultants in gathering the various validated information establishing the shortfalls in the export declarations and the import declaration in the country of destination.
Court documents showed that 57 million barrels of Nigeria crude oil was illegally exported by TOTAL E&P NIGERIA LIMITED, NIGERIA AGIP OIL COMPANY, CHEVRON and other companies and sold to buyers in the United States of America between January 2011 and December 2014. The revenue due to Nigeria as a result of this under-declaration and non-declaration is $12,722,600,327($12.7billionDollars) which translates to N2,493,629,664,092(2.5Trillion Naira) at an official rate of 197 Naira to one US Dollar
In one of the instances cited, TOTAL E&P NIGERIA LIMITED shipped crude oil using a vessel by name TRIATHLON to Tostsa Total oil Trading SA of San Felipe Plaza-Suite 2100,5847 SAN FELIPE, 770557-HOUSTON United States at the port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America with a bill of lading number TCVMTRIATIA 1388. The shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities resulting in the shortfall of 968,784 barrels of crude oil in the value of $106,566240 as revenue to the Government,
Another under-declared crude oil was estimated at 491,850 barrels with a value of $54,103,500. It was shipped aboard a vessel named NORTH STAR and sold to BP Products North America of 501 Westlake Park Boulvard, Houston, TX 77079 United States, at port of Texas City, with bill of lading DROESVD23091101.
On two different occasions 768,990 barrels of crude oil, valued at $84,588,910 was loaded on a vessel named AUTHENTIC. It was Shipped to Socap international limited of Cannon’s court, 22 Victoria Street, Hamilton, HM12.Bermuda at the port of Chester Pennsylvanian, United States bill of lading ALMYSVDM17041101 and17041102
The Nigerian government seeks an order of the court compelling Total E&P Nigeria Limited to pay into the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, $245,258,640 being the total value of the missing revenues from the shortfall /under-declared/undeclared crude oil shipments of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Government also wants the oil firm pay General damages of $245,258,640 and Interest on the said sum at the rate of 21 percent per annum until the entire sum is liquidated.
The case has been adjourned till next week for hearing .
In a separate suit, the Federal Government of Nigeria alleges that NIGERIA AGIP OIL COMPANY LIMITED on 16 June 2014 lifted crude oil on board the vessel named VALUE. The firm shipped the cargo to Philadelphia Energy Solutions of 1735 Market street Philadelphia, PA USA at the port of Wilmington, Delaware, United States of America with Bill of lading number SEUK9HA21304143.
Government claims that the shipment was not declared to relevant authorities resulting in the shortfall of 175,334 barrels of crude oil in the value of $38,573,561as revenue to Federal Government of Nigeria.
On 27 June,2011,Nigerian Agip Oil Company limited lifted crude oil on board a vessel named COSMIC and shipped same to ENI TRADING & SHIPPING B.V. of Strawinskylaan 1641-Tower C/16 1077C XX. Again, government claims that the shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities resulting in a shortfall of 467,614 barrels of crude oil in the value of $107,274,990 as revenue to the Federal Government
Despite letters written by the legal representative of the Federal Government for payment of the shortfall, the company had failed to make any payments to the Federal Government.
The Federal Government of Nigeria now claims against Nigeria Agip Oil company limited:
*An order compelling the company to pay into Federal Government of Nigeria ‘so account with central bank of Nigeria the total sum of $145,848,551being the total value of the missing revenues from the shortfall/under declared/undeclared crude oil of the Federal Government
*Interest at the rate of 21 per cent per annum until the entire sum is liquidated.
*General damages in the sum of $145,848,551.and the cost of this legal action.
There are imminent claims against other Oil exploration companies including Chevron.
NIMC: Presidential Council Faults N1000 NIN Fee, Demands Review
The recently announced N1000 National Identification Number (NIN) verification fee for the application, issuance and renewal of international passports by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has been criticised.
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC faulted the mandated charge and called for a review.
Investors King had earlier reported that NIMC declared that Nigerians living in the country will pay N1000, while Nigerians residing in other African countries will pay $3 or its equivalent in other currencies and those in other continents across the world will pay $10 or its equivalent in other countries as NIN verification fee for application, issuance and renewal of their international passports.
Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business/PEBEC Secretary, Jumoke Oduwole, in a statement, emphasised the need for a review to make citizens enjoy quicker and less expensive government services.
Oduwole, who commended the collaboration between NIMC and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), said such a partnership will enhance passport services.
She noted that stakeholders are not impressed with the extra charge to be paid for the NIN verification before they can process their passports.
According to her, the outline of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2022 signed into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari on February 8, 2023 states that where an applicant requires the service of a ministry, department or agency, the MDA involved is mandated to conduct the necessary verification or certification from relevant MDAs, in respect of the applicant.
Investors King understands that PUBEC was set up in 2016 by President Buhari with the aim of curbing hectic bottlenecks and bureaucratic limitations accompanied with owning and managing business enterprises in Nigeria.
The chairman of the council is the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. PUBEC has since its existence periodically issued EO1 Compliance Reports containing monthly reports of Ministries, Departments and Agencies submitted to the council.
INEC Considers Postponement of Governorship and State Assembly Elections Amidst Legal Battles
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is currently considering the possibility of postponing the upcoming governorship and state assembly elections, following the legal battles that have arisen from the recent presidential and national assembly polls.
INEC is expected to make a decision on the issue during a meeting of its national commissioners, scheduled for Wednesday night.
Investors King understands that the legal battles revolve around the extraction of data embedded in the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) and the inspection of other election materials.
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, have filed similar applications seeking to obtain the certified true copy (CTC) of all the data in the BVAS.
INEC has opposed the applications, arguing that granting them would affect its preparations for the forthcoming elections.
Tanimu Inuwa, counsel to INEC, has asked the court to vary the orders granting permission to Obi and Atiku to inspect all the sensitive materials used in the conduct of the presidential election.
However, the court has refused to grant INEC’s request, stating that the commission failed to specify which of the orders it wished to vary.
The court has clarified that it granted Obi and LP permission to do electronic scanning and/or make photocopies of voter registration and ballot papers used in the conduct of the election, and not permission to access the database of INEC, as misconceived by the electoral body.
Given the legal battles and the possible impact on preparations for the forthcoming elections, INEC is now considering postponing the governorship and state assembly elections.
This decision, if taken, would have significant implications for the electoral process and could further heighten tensions in the country.
The ongoing legal battles highlight the need for all stakeholders to work together to ensure a free, fair and credible electoral process. It is essential that INEC and other stakeholders prioritize the integrity of the electoral process over political expediency and work towards resolving these legal disputes in a timely and transparent manner.
FG Estimates N869bn For 2023 Census, Seeks Financial Aid
The Federal Government has totalled the fund needed for the conduct of the 2023 population and housing census as N869bn.
Investors King reports that Nigerians and organisations have been called upon to donate N327.2bn out of the estimated cost as the government already made provision for N291.5bn.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, during a dialogue with partners for the census in Abuja on Monday, stated that the FG plans to set up a basket fund to collect donations.
Agba noted that the basket fund will be coordinated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) who will provide technical and financial support to the National Population Commission (NPC).
He appealed to well-meaning citizens and private sectors to either donate cash or essential materials needed for the national census.
The minister gave the breakdown of the estimated cost; “The total requirement for the census (including post census activities) is N869bn ($1.88bn): census requirement – N626bn ($1.36bn) which is about $6 per capita (just slightly above the threshold of up to $5 per capita); Post-Census (up to 2025) is N243bn ($527m).
“So far, the government has committed N291.5bn ($632m) to the census, making it 46 per cent of total funding for the census. An additional (immediate) sum of N327.2bn ($709.9m) is required to complete the census.”
Agba stated that the national headcount was scheduled to hold in 2022 but was shifted to March, 2023, adding that there is a recommendation for it to be moved to May 2023.
He recalled that the last census was done in 2006 and the next ought to be held in 2016 as recommended by the United Nations for Decennial census.
In her remarks, the Resident Representative, UNFPA, Ms Ulla Mueller, harped on the need to take the census seriously to stop guessing the present population of the country.
She stated that UNFPA will support the census exercise financially and technically to the tune of $10m.
Also, the Chairman, Heirs Holdings Group and Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, on behalf of the Organised Private Sector and African Philanthropic Organisations spoke on the urgent need for the census to accurately plan based on the needs of the citizens to boost the nation’s development.
“For me, this task is critical to our country’s future – if we do not know our population, we cannot properly plot our developmental path, our economic growth, our society’s goals. Credible demographic data is of profound importance for the public and private sectors alike. We all know we live in a data-driven world.
“The upcoming census is a significant milestone in Nigeria’s development, as it provides an opportunity to collect accurate and reliable data on the country’s population and housing, which will serve as a vital tool for policymakers, private sector actors, and civil society organisations,” he said.
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