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Malabu: Court Lifts Forfeiture Order on OPL 24



  • Malabu: Court Lifts Forfeiture Order on OPL 24

A Federal High Court in Abuja has discharged its interim forfeiture order on the controversial Oil Prospecting Licence 245, an oil block at the centre of the $1.1bn Malabu oil scam.

Justice John Tsoho had on January 26, 2017 made the order temporarily forfeiting the OPL 245 to the Federal Government.

But the judge discharged the order of interim forfeiture in his ruling on separate applications by Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production Company Limited and Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited.

Both companies were in the possession of the licence for the oil block before the interim forfeiture order.

According to the judge, the order was wrongly made as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in whose name the ex parte application was filed, failed to meet the pre-condition required before filing it.

Justice Tsoho ruled, “Therefore, by the case of Onagoruwa vs IGP, I hold respectively that the Chairman of EFCC failed to meet the pre-condition for making an application for interim attachment of property. The application is, therefore, irregular and the order granted ought to be discharged.

“Accordingly this court granted ex parte on January 26, 2017 on the application of the Chairman of the EFCC is hereby discharged or set aside.

“At this juncture, it is important to advise that with the setting aside of the ex parte order, proceedings in this matter have finally closed.”

He also ruled that with the order of interim forfeiture discharged, the matter initiated by the EFCC had been closed, adding that any other further dispute relating to the OPL 245 should be resolved through fresh actions.

“Those who have other grievances concerning OPL 245 should seek remedy by instituting separation actions as appropriate,” the judge ruled.

Meanwhile, in compliance with the advice of the court, Malabu after the ruling on Friday filed a suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/20/2017 before the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking among other prayers, an order restoring to it the “rights to exclusive possession of OPL 245”.

Malabu also wants the court to restrain the EFCC from continuing to treat the OPL 245 as proceed of crime, and also stop the anti-graft agency from interfering with its “right to explore and prospect for petroleum in the area of OPL 245”.

Defendants to the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Shell Nigeria Ultra-Deep Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, Nigerian Agip Exploration Company Limited, EFCC and the Minister of Petroleum in the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime, Chief Dan Etete.

The plaintiff, in its writ of summons, claimed that it was registered in 1998 and its subscribers/first directors “are Sani Mohammed, a son of the late military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha; Amafagh Kweku and Hindu Hassan, with 10 million, six million and four millions shares, respectively, making up the 20 million share capital of the company.

Malabu stated in its statement of claim accompanying the fresh suit, which it filed through its lawyer, Mr. J. A. Achimugu, that it was granted OPL 245 by the Minister of Petroleum Resources on April 29, 1998 and paid N50,000 as application fees, $10,000 as bid processing fees and part payment of deposit of $2,040,000 as signature bonus.

The OPL 245 was said to have been originally issued by the Federal Government to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited under shady circumstances before subsequent chain of transfers that ended with Shell and Agip through transactions, which the EFCC described as fraudulent.

The EFCC had on December 20, 2016 filed charges against some individuals, including the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), and Etete, as well as companies like Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in relation to the alleged $1.1bn scam.

Relying on the criminal charges earlier filed in December 2016, the EFCC, on January 26, 2017, sought and obtained an ex parte order from Justice Tsoho for interim forfeiture of the OPL 245 to the Federal Government pending further investigation and prosecution.

The EFCC had sought the order of interim forfeiture to subsist pending the completion of investigation and prosecution of some persons and corporate organisations, including Shell and Agip, for offences involving about $1.1bn relating to the transfer of the oil block.

The EFCC earlier this month instituted charges against Shell and Agip in regard to the scam.

In his ruling on Friday, Justice Tsoho agreed with the EFCC, represented by Mr. Johnson Ojogbane, that it was permissible and constitutional for the anti-graft agency to seek an order of interim forfeiture of the OPL 245, being a subject of criminal proceedings earlier instituted.

But the court agreed with the contentions of both Shell and Agip’s lawyers, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN) and Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu (SAN), respectively that the ex parte application upon which the interim forfeiture order was sought and obtained was irregular.While arguing his client’s application on February 27, Ajayi had maintained that by virtue of sections 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act, the Chairman of the agency, in whose name the ex parte application was filed by the anti-graft agency, was not the proper person to institute the action.

According to him, sections 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act envisage that the ex parte application for interim forfeiture is filed in the name of the EFCC and not its chairman.Justice Tsoho dismissed the application by Malabu Oil and Gas Limited seeking the reopening of arguments on the applications by Agip and Shell.

The court described the application by Malabu as lawless and constituted an abuse of court process.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq,, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Computer Village Traders Demand Refunds as Lagos State Cancels Katangowa Project



Traders at the renowned Computer Village in Lagos find themselves in a state of uncertainty following the abrupt termination of the multibillion-naira Katangowa project by the Lagos State Government.

The project, which was aimed at relocating the bustling tech market from its current site in Ikeja to the Agbado/Oke-Odo area of the state, has left traders in a state of limbo.

Despite the cancellation of the project reportedly occurring two years ago, traders claim they were not informed by either the government or the developers, Bridgeways Limited.

This lack of communication has left them in a precarious position, particularly concerning the substantial upfront payments made by some traders to the developers.

Chairman of the Computer Village Market Board, Chief Adebowale Soyebo, expressed dismay at the lack of communication from the authorities regarding the project’s termination.

He explained that neither the government nor the contractors had officially informed them of the decision, leaving traders in the dark about the fate of their investments.

Traders who had made payments to Bridgeways Limited now seek clarity on the refund process. The absence of official communication has compounded their concerns, with many uncertain about the fate of their investments.

While acknowledging the payments made by traders, Lagos State Governor’s Adviser on e-GIS and Urban Development, Dr. Olajide Babatunde, assured that the government would facilitate refunds.

He, however, said there is a need for proper identification and verification to ensure that affected traders receive their refunds accordingly.

The termination of the Katangowa project has reignited debates about the relocation of Computer Village.

Traders assert that the issue of relocation should not be raised until the new site is at least 70% completed, as per their agreement with the government.

The cancellation of the Katangowa project underscores the challenges associated with large-scale urban development projects and the importance of transparent communication between stakeholders to avoid such situations in the future.

As traders await further directives from the government, they remain hopeful for a resolution that safeguards their interests and ensures the continuity of one of Nigeria’s most prominent tech markets.

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Government Begins Disbursement of N200bn Support Fund to Manufacturers and Businesses



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The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has initiated the disbursement of the long-awaited N200 billion Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme.

This is the beginning of a vital phase in the government’s strategy to provide financial assistance to manufacturers and businesses across Nigeria.

The scheme, which is being administered through the Bank of Industry (BOI), has been divided into three categories of funding, totaling N200 billion.

The disbursement process comes after an exhaustive selection process and verification of applicants to ensure transparency and accountability in the allocation of funds.

Doris Aniete, spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, announced the progress in a statement posted on the trade minister’s official X (formerly Twitter) handle.

Aniete highlighted that verified beneficiaries have already started receiving their grants, signaling the beginning of the phased disbursement strategy.

“We are pleased to inform you that the disbursement process for the Presidential Conditional Grant Programme has officially commenced. Some beneficiaries have already received their grants, marking the beginning of our phased disbursement strategy,” stated Aniete.

She further disclosed that by Friday, April 19, a substantial number of verified applicants are set to receive significant disbursements.

However, Aniete emphasized that disbursements are ongoing, and not all applicants will receive their grants immediately, assuring that all verified applicants will eventually receive their grants in subsequent phases.

The initiation of the disbursement process comes after more than eight months since President Bola Tinubu announced the grant for manufacturers and small businesses.

The scheme aims to mitigate the adverse effects of recent economic reforms and foster sustainable economic growth by empowering businesses with financial support.

President Tinubu had outlined the government’s commitment to strengthening the manufacturing sector and creating job opportunities through the disbursement of N200 billion over a specified period.

The funding is intended to provide credit to 75 enterprises, each able to access up to N1 billion at a low-interest rate of 9% per annum.

However, the implementation of the programme has faced challenges, including delays and criticisms regarding the registration process.

Femi Egbesola, President of the Association of Small Business Owners, expressed concerns over the slow pace of data collation and suggested that genuine businesses were being discouraged from accessing the loans.

Despite the hurdles, the commencement of the disbursement process signifies a significant step forward in the government’s efforts to provide vital support to manufacturers and businesses, potentially revitalizing economic activities and driving growth across various sectors.

As beneficiaries begin to receive their grants, the impact of this initiative on the nation’s economic landscape is eagerly anticipated.

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Company News

MicroStrategy Rally Crushes Short Sellers, Wiping Out $1.92 Billion



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Short sellers betting against MicroStrategy found themselves facing significant losses as the company’s rally wiped out $1.92 billion since March.

This development comes amidst a rally that has seen MicroStrategy’s stock outperform bitcoin, causing a considerable hit to those who had taken a bearish stance on the tech firm.

According to data from S3 Partners, short sellers have been on the losing end since March, as MicroStrategy’s stock surged, highlighting the impact of the rally on those betting against the company’s success.

This loss underscores the challenges faced by short sellers in a market where certain stocks experience rapid and unexpected price increases.

The rally in MicroStrategy’s stock is attributed to several factors, including the approval of several spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier in the year.

This move by the SEC brought bitcoin, a once-nascent asset class, closer to the mainstream and fueled investor interest in companies like MicroStrategy, known for their significant holdings of the cryptocurrency.

MicroStrategy, which held nearly 190,000 bitcoin on its balance sheet as of the end of 2023, has indicated its intention to continue increasing its exposure to the digital currency.

The company’s decision to sell convertible debt to raise money for additional bitcoin purchases further bolstered investor confidence and contributed to the stock’s rally.

Analysts at BTIG noted that the premium for MicroStrategy’s stock reflects investors’ desire to gain exposure to bitcoin indirectly, especially those who may not have the means to invest directly in the cryptocurrency or ETFs.

The company’s ability to raise capital for bitcoin purchases is seen as a positive sign for shareholders, adding to the optimism surrounding its stock.

However, despite the recent rally and optimism surrounding MicroStrategy, the crypto industry as a whole continues to be heavily shorted.

Short interest in nine of the most-watched companies in the crypto space remains high, standing at 16.73% of the total number of outstanding shares, more than three times the average in the United States.

Moreover, concerns persist regarding the SEC’s stance on cryptocurrencies, with some experts suggesting that the approval of spot bitcoin ETFs may not necessarily indicate a broader acceptance of other similar products, such as spot ethereum ETFs.

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