Author: GRF Dalley & Partners

12 Feb 2020
USA

A REVIEW OF THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE TRAVEL BAN IMPOSED ON NIGERIA BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The United States of America (USA) recently imposed a travel ban on Nigeria by expanding the list of countries restricted from obtaining certain types of visas. The ban takes effect on February 21, 2020.

Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania were added to the initial list of seven countries under the travel ban on account of certain deficiencies that position them as countries that pose a high degree of security risk to the USA.

Nigeria’s inclusion on the list was met with great surprise particularly in light of the moves made to promote mutually beneficial trade and commercial ties between African countries and the USA.[1] The USA is one of Nigeria’s main trading partners and has remained an ally of the USA in the fight against terrorism.

The following was cited as the reason for Nigeria’s inclusion on the list:

“Nigeria does not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.  Nigeria does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, which is necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the United States.  Nigeria also presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the United States.  Nigeria is an important strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism, and the United States continues to engage with Nigeria on these and other issues.  The Department of State has provided significant assistance to Nigeria as it modernizes its border management capabilities, and the Government of Nigeria recognizes the importance of improving its information sharing with the United States.  Nevertheless, these investments have not yet resulted in sufficient improvements in Nigeria’s information sharing with the United States for border and immigration screening and vetting.”

From the foregoing, the USA has expressed its concerns over Nigeria’s non-compliance with information sharing practices and the possibility of the export of terrorism into the country.

Level of restriction and its implications

The level of restriction to be faced by Nigerian visa applicants was stated in the Proclamation as follows:

“The entry into the United States of nationals of Nigeria as immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the United States Government, is hereby suspended.”

A proper understanding of this shows that Nigerian nationals are still permitted to apply for visas under non-immigrant visa categories. Therefore, the ban does not apply to those who intend to visit the USA for business, leisure (tourism), education and temporary work.

However, Nigerians seeking to permanently emigrate to the USA will be affected by this ban. This means that green cards cannot be obtained for the purpose of family reunification and employment. Its application is limited to those who are outside the USA on the effective date of the proclamation. It also applies to those who do not have a valid visa on the effective date of the proclamation and do not qualify for a visa or other valid travel document. This means that the ban does not apply to those who are already in the USA and to Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the United States Government.

Exceptions and Waivers

Section 3(b) of Proclamation 9645 provides for exceptions to the applicability of the ban. Under the Proclamation, the following people are exempted:

  1. Any lawful permanent resident of the USA;
  2. Any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the USA on or after the applicable effective date;
  3. Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa – such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document – valid on the applicable effective date or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the USA and seek entry or admission;
  4. Dual nationals who are not travelling on a passport issued by a country covered by the restriction;
  5. Any foreign national travelling on a diplomatic or diplomatic-type visa and the like;
  6. Any foreign national who has been granted asylum by the USA; any refugee already admitted to the USA; or any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole or protection under the Convention Against Torture.

An application for a waiver of the ban can be sought and such applications would be assessed on an individual basis. Such waivers are granted at the discretion of the consular officer or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official.

In order for a waiver to be granted, the applicant must prove the following to the satisfaction of the consular officer or CBP official:

  1. Denial of entry would cause undue hardship;
  2. Entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the USA; and
  3. Entry would be in the national interest.[2]

 

Remarks

In 2018, the USA issued 7922 immigrant visas to Nigerians and Nigerian immigrants to the USA have made their mark by being among the most educated immigrants in the country.[3] There are indications that the travel ban can be lifted if Nigeria effectively addresses the security issues raised by the USA. The Nigerian government has already pledged to work with the USA to ensure the proper implementation of all the updates necessary to address these issues.[4]

 

For more information, contact:

GRF Dalley & Partners

Lagos Office:
Gabsdall House (2nd – 4th Floor)
26, Igbosere Road

Port Harcourt Office:
13, Finima Street,
Old G.R.A.

Tel: +23414549824
Fax: +4420 8929 0855
Email: inq@grfdalleyandpartners.com
Website: www.grfdalleyandpartners.com

Follow us on social media:
Twitter: @GRFDALLEY
LinkedIn: /grfdalleyandpartners

 

 

[1] https://www.cgdev.org/blog/prosper-africa-promises-double-two-way-trade-and-investment-between-us-and-africa

[2] Section 3(c) of Proclamation 9645

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/02/world/africa/trump-travel-ban.html

[4] https://time.com/5776026/us-nigeria-visa-restrictions/

31 Jan 2020
Effect of Brexit on Africa

BREXIT: WHAT IMPACT WILL IT HAVE ON AFRICA?

Background:

The United Kingdom’s relationship with Africa has its beginnings in the pre-colonial era. The Scramble for Africa between 1881 and 1914 resulted in the division of Africa amongst the Western European powers at the time, namely Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and Spain.

The presence of Britain and France in Africa was particularly notable as they occupied vast territories in the continent. Although some African tribes put up resistance against colonial domination, they were unable to withstand the pressures and most of the continent eventually yielded to colonial rule.

Colonialism represents a critical turning point in the history of Africa. The new rulers controlled their newly acquired territories in different ways. While the French opted for a more direct form of rule, Britain ruled using the system of indirect rule. Through these colonial relations, Britain introduced its language, technology and a new way of life and fostered trade within its territories. Trade mostly involved the export of raw materials to Britain and the import of finished goods into Britain’s territories in Africa.
By the late 1950’s and early 1960’s African countries started to gain independence. The newly independent countries maintained their economic and political ties with their former colonial masters. However, the decolonisation of the continent meant Africans were, predominantly, in control of their own affairs. Britain continued its relationship with its former colonies under the banner of the Commonwealth.

Britain’s Influence in Africa, after Joining the European Union
Britain finally joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1973 after the resignation of then French President, Charles de Gaulle. Britain had previously applied in 1965 and in 1967 but both applications were vetoed by De Gaulle on the basis of Britain’s apparent incompatibility with Europe. In 1975 a referendum was conducted and Britain voted to remain part of the European Community.

Through the EEC, Britain was able to continue its relations with its former colonies in Africa. Under the Lome Convention of 1975, agricultural produce and mineral exports from countries in Africa, the Caribbean’s and the Pacific enjoyed preferential access into the EEC (now EU). This was made possible by Britain’s membership of the EU.

In 2007, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) was launched at the Africa-EU summit in Lisbon, Portugal with the aim of establishing a reciprocal trade partnership between African countries and the EU. The hope was to promote sustainable development and foster greater relations between the two continents. Ultimately African countries were to be weaned off donor dependence.

Through the JAES initiative, the EU has been able to contribute financially to the African Union (AU) and various regional groups in the continent. The AU received over 2 billion Euros from the African Peace Facility (APF). The APF is funded by the European Development Fund (EDF).

The EU has entered into Economic Partnership Agreements with some of the countries in Africa to promote trade and investment. Africa has been exporting agricultural produce and raw materials to the EU. This trade has helped enlarge the markets available to African countries.
The United Kingdom has been exercising its influence in Africa through the EU through contributing to the European Development Fund and aid projects embarked on by the EU. It has been a driving force in carrying out discussions on matters concerning Africa and the effect EU policies may have on the continent. In matters of trade, the UK has been instrumental to shaping the EU’s trade policies towards Africa.

The Present

The world has been making great strides at becoming a global village. Former European colonies in Africa have started entering into trade partnerships with various governments and the influence of countries such as China, Turkey and the United States of America has been growing. The diversity of Africa’s trading partners is also being influenced by the adoption of South-South trade with other developing countries.

Although the UK still continues to trade with its former colonies, their influence cannot be said to be as strong as the influence their French counterpart wields over her former colonies particularly in West Africa. The reduction in trade between the UK and the African continent can be said to stem from the presence of other economies that exercised a better competitive advantage.

The UK is set to leave the EU on 31st January 2020 after which it would enter a transition period until the end of 2020, which can be extend up to one to two years. It is no doubt that Brexit will not affect the UK alone. Aside from affecting the EU, it will also have an effect on trade, aid and investment in Africa. Former Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to selected countries in Africa in 2018 provided an insight into the UK’s intention to increase business participation in its former colonies, in the wake of Brexit.

The aid that the EU sends to Africa will also change with Brexit. The UK contributed largely to the EU aid budget and to the European Development Fund (EDF). The UK has agreed to remain party to the EDF and will honour all commitments related to the current 11th EDF.[1]

In spite of that, there are questions as to what would happen after 2020. There is the possibility that directly disbursing aid to Africa may either provide for greater efficiency or may limit its reach. However, it must be stated that EU funds made available through the EDF would be reduced and as such there would be a further challenge of making sure that the reduced funding available be put to good use and reach as many as possible. Once Brexit takes place, the UK will no longer play an active role in the policy decisions the EU makes in relation to Africa.

Not much is set to change in the during the transition period as the UK will still remain part of the EU Customs Union and Single Market until the end of 2020, and it is projected that trade relations with African countries are likely to remain the same due to continuity agreements. The UK has been actively working on deals with countries that already have trade agreements with the EU in order to avoid paying additional tariffs.[2] It is expected that the UK would enter into more trade agreements during the transition period. However, it is undeniable that the recent UK-Africa Investment Summit hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson marked an attempt by the UK to boost trade relations with its former colonies in the wake of Brexit.

Predictions

The discussions about Brexit have made way for various predictions of the kind of changes we are expected to see in the coming years with regards to the UK’s relationship with African countries.

It is expected that post-Brexit UK would be diversifying its investments in Africa by increasing its investment in other countries on the continent that exhibit more promise in terms of economic growth rate. This would position the UK as an active partner in the development drive of several African countries.

Currently, South Africa enjoys about 30 percent of the UK’s foreign direct investment in Africa but has a growth rate of only 0.8 percent.[3] Kenya on the other hand has a growth rate of 6 percent but only enjoys only 2 percent of the UK’s total investment in Africa.

Diversifying investments by increasing investment in other African countries would allow the UK to benefit from the economic opportunities available there

With the rise of technology startups in Africa, it would be logical to conclude the startup space may be one of the areas that would benefit from UK investment. Nigeria, for instance, received $663.24 million in venture capital in 2019 thus making it top startup investments in Africa.[4] Sectors such as fintech, logistics and agritech are particularly promising in 2020.

Another change we might see in the coming years would be the UK’s attempt to engage in more infrastructure projects in the continent. In countries such as Nigeria, it is impossible to ignore the great strides taken by China in providing infrastructural development by being a major player in the country’s plan towards economic recovery and growth. The UK would have to make great efforts to match China’s achievements and competitive advantage in this regard in order to attain the position of a strategic partner in infrastructural development.

Immigration is one of the areas that would be affected in post-Brexit UK. It is argued that in order to benefit from improved trade relations with its African counterparts, the UK may need to relax its immigration policies towards Africans, particularly those from the Commonwealth. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted at the possibility of a fairer immigration policy by saying that the UK will put “faces before passports” during the UK-Africa Investment Summit held this year.[5]

Although the form post-Brexit UK immigration policy will take is still unclear, it is projected that the UK would embrace a more open stance rather than a restrictive one in order to benefit from more skilled labour.[6]

Remarks

Questions remain as to what the UK will be offering Africa in the coming years. At this point it is difficult to say if it would be able to challenge the important role that China has been playing in trade and infrastructure or attempt to be as active as its French counterpart in the continent. Due to the former colonial relationship the UK has with Africa, it is understandable that any intentions the UK may have of renewing relationships with African countries may be received with skepticism.

For more information, contact:

GRF Dalley & Partners

Lagos Office:
Gabsdall House (2nd – 4th Floor)
26, Igbosere Road

Port Harcourt Office:
13, Finima Street,
Old G.R.A.

Tel: +23414549824
Fax: +4420 8929 0855
Email: inq@grfdalleyandpartners.com
Website: www.grfdalleyandpartners.com

Follow us on social media:
Twitter: @GRFDALLEY
LinkedIn: /grfdalleyandpartners

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_20_104
[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47213842
[3] https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/29/boris-johnsons-new-scramble-for-africa/
[4] https://nipc.gov.ng/2020/01/06/nigeria-again-tops-startup-investments-in-africa/
[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51175628
[6] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/29/brexit-britain-hard-line-immigration-openness

04 Apr 2019
Trademarks

REGISTRATION OF TRADEMARKS AND CHALLENGES OF THE TRADEMARK OFFICE IN NIGERIA

Introduction

A trademark is a word, mark, symbol, phrase, sign or design that distinguishes goods or brands from one another. Therefore a trademark must be distinctive and must not be deceptive. When a trademark is registered, it becomes protected from use by other people thus having the aim of preventing incidences of piracy. There are various laws relevant to trademarks in Nigeria, namely: Trademarks Act 2004 and the Merchandise Marks Act 2004.

In Nigeria, the body responsible for handling registration of trademarks is the Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry under Commercial Law Department of the Ministry of Trade and Investments. The Federal Civil Service Commission appoints the Registrar of Trademarks and he is the one in charge of carrying out the functions relating to trademark registration.

Registration of Trademarks

Under Nigerian law, a trademark is registered for a period of 7 years after which it can be renewed for periods of 14 years. In order for a distinctive trademark to qualify for registration under Part A of the trademark register, Section 9(1) of the Trademarks Act 2004 provides that it must contain at least one of the following particulars:

  1. the name of a company, individual, or firm, represented in a special or particular manner;
  2. the signature of the applicant for registration or some predecessor in his business;
  3. an invented word or invented words;
  4. a word or words having no direct reference to the character or quality of the goods, and not being according to its ordinary signification a geographical name or a surname;
  5. any other distinctive mark.

A Trademark that does not qualify for registration under Part A of the trademark register can be registered under Part B of the register if it is capable of distinguishing goods connected with the trademark sought to be registered.[1] On this basis, for registration under Part B what is important is that it should be capable of distinctiveness.

However, the registration of a trademark can be refused if:

  • it is likely to deceive or cause confusion
  • it is contrary to law or morality
  • it is scandalous
  • in respect of a chemical substance or preparation, it is the commonly used and accepted name of any single chemical element or single chemical compound
  • it is identical with an already existing trademark already on the register and belonging to a different proprietor.

 

Challenges of the Trademark Office in Nigeria

In 2013, the Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry made available an online registration platform to ease the trademark registration process. However, it is still advisable that prior to commencing a registration process an availability search is conducted at the Trade Mark Registry to determine availability of the trademark.

The preliminary search process is not as straightforward and convenient as is obtainable in other jurisdictions. In the United States of America, for instance, those who want to register a trademark can conduct a search on the Trademark Electronic Search System database that contains trademarks and prior pending applications. The results of a preliminary search done using the Trademark Electronic Search System are available immediately after submitting the search query.

In Nigeria, the search still has to be conducted manually at the Trademarks, Patent and Designs Registry in Abuja due to the fact that the online platform still does not support online searches for existing trademarks that were registered before the advent of the online platform. The search report from the manual search can take about 3 days to be ready.

An application for registration of a trademark in Nigeria can be done via the online platform. The Industrial Property Administration System on the other hand requires physical presence in Abuja, however this can be done by using various appointed agents of the registry. It is therefore possible to say that the online Trademark registration platform in Nigeria is not as efficient as the online platform created by the Corporate Affairs Commission where searches for existing business names can be conducted online.

Another area where registration of trademarks in Nigeria differs from other jurisdictions is that the trademark registry tends to refuse the registration of a trademark due to the existence of a prior trademark application. This approach can be said to be rather restrictive. In the United States of America, a trademark application would be refused based on the existence of an existing trademark rather than the mere existence of a prior application. It would be more desirable for Nigeria to adopt this approach and notify the proprietor of the existence of a prior registration rather than resort to immediate refusal of registration.

Conclusion

Trademarks play an important role in promoting the economic development of a country. The trademark registration process in Nigeria is still evolving and there is always room for improvement. The process unfortunately tends to be weighed down by bureaucracy and this affects the speed at which registrations are completed.There is an urgent need for the challenges faced by the Trademarks office in Nigeria to be addressed in order to bring the office and to the standard expected of it.

 

[1] See Section 10(1) of the Trademarks Act 2004

29 Mar 2019
Carriage by air

A REVIEW OF THE JURISDICTION OF NIGERIAN COURTS IN MATTERS INVOLVING CARRIAGE OF PASSENGERS BY AIR

Introduction

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has clearly outlined the Jurisdiction of courts. In spite of this, over the years there have been instances where matters have been instituted before the wrong courts.

Of particular interest is the provision of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) that provides for the matters over which the Federal High Court is able to exercise Jurisdiction. In this article we seek to review the Jurisdictions of the State High Court and the Federal High Court in matters involving carriage of passengers by air.

The Position of the Law

The provisions of the law are very clear with regard to which court has Jurisdiction, in respect of aviation matters. Section 251(1)(k)  of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides:

“(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any court in civil causes and matters –

 (k) aviation and safety of aircraft”.

Likewise, Section 7(1)(k) of the Federal High Court Act 1973 (as amended in 2005) vests original jurisdiction in aviation matters in the Federal High Court in the following words:

“(1) The Court shall to the exclusion of any other court have original jurisdiction to try civil causes and matters –

(k) aviation and safety of aircraft”.

From the above it can be seen that the Jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in matters involving carriage of passengers by air is dependent on whether or not the matter is one bordering on aviation.

Simply put, carriage of passengers by air involves the transportation of passengers from one place to another by means of an aircraft. For it to constitute an aviation matter, actual carriage must have taken place. In the case of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines vs. Taher[1], the Court of Appeal was of the opinion that there must be a direct and immediate contact with an aircraft and that the passenger must have been carried inside the aircraft before a matter can be said to be an aviation matter. Therefore, the Federal High Court can exercise exclusive Jurisdiction over the subject matter only when there was actual carriage.

What then happens when no carriage has taken place? In other words if the passenger is denied or refused check in/boarding on the first leg of the journey, the Appellate Courts are of the opinion that the circumstances would be one of simple contract rather than one of aviation under the statutes (the contractual document being the plane ticket that was purchased[2]). In such an instance, the State High Court is bound to have Jurisdiction.

The Return Ticket: A Single Contract or Two Contracts?

In air travel, a passenger can either choose to buy a one-way ticket or a return ticket. A one-way ticket takes the passenger to their destination while a return ticket takes them to their destination and back to the departure location. Having established that a plane ticket is a contractual document, it therefore follows that the terms of the contract are fulfilled once a passenger uses their plane ticket and is transported to their destination by the airline. Any event that takes place once a passenger has embarked on the airplane falls within the ambit of aviation and as such the Federal High Court has the power to assume Jurisdiction over the matter.

It would be safe to say that there are no challenges in determining when a contract is fulfilled in a case involving a one-way ticket. However, can the same be said about a return ticket? A return ticket basically covers two journeys. The contractual obligation in a return ticket is the transportation of a passenger to their destination and then back. In such a situation it can be said that the contract is acted on when a passenger embarks on the airplane and is taken to their destination.

In Delta Airlines vs. Shima Josef & Anor[3] the issue that arose was whether or not the second part of the journey constitutes a separate contract and whether the State High Court has Jurisdiction in a case of denied boarding in the case of the passenger’s return leg. The Court of Appeal in the case of was of the opinion that a return ticket represents a single contract, as opposed to two separate contracts. On this basis, any matter that arises after a passenger embarks on flight using a return ticket becomes an aviation matter and as such the Federal High Court would be the Court of competent Jurisdiction.

Therefore in a case of denied boarding, on the second or return leg, the Federal High Court and not the State High Court has Jurisdiction.

Remarks

The issue of Jurisdiction is very important and care must be taken to institute proceedings in the appropriate Court. The Jurisdiction the State High Court or the Federal High Court exercises over a matter involving carriage of passengers by air is dependent on whether or not the subject matter falls within the ambit of aviation.  It is therefore not in dispute that the State High Court would be the Court of competent Jurisdiction in an action for breach of contract in matters involving carriage of passengers by air provided there has not been any opportunity for the passenger to be under the care of the airline. Once there is any indication that the passenger was under the care of the airline, the Federal High Court would have jurisdiction.

[1] (2014) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1393) 137

[2] See Alhaji Adebayo Azeez vs. Lufthansa German Airline (2014) LPELR 22416 (CA)

[3] (CA, 1 March 2019)

16 Oct 2017

GRF DALLEY NEWSLETTER 0038 – A COMPILATION OF LEGAL NEWS AND EVENTS

 

IMF sees improved forex market in Nigeria as reserves hit $33 billion

The nation’s foreign exchange market may have scored a positive outlook, at least in the near term, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), admitted that there is appreciable progress being recorded.

This is coming on the heels of recognition by Forbes Magazine that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, is the winner of “2017 Best of Africa Achievement” award for foreign exchange reforms, which pushed the market to stability against all odds.

Guardian

 

NAICOM to drive industry penetration with states’ engagement


The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), has concluded plans to seek partnership with all the 36 states across the country through its compulsory insurance programmes.

The Commissioner for Insurance, Mohammed Kari, at a courtesy visit to the Kaduna State Government, noted that such partnership would pave the way for the Commission to set up a branch in Kaduna, now that it is considering opening new offices nationwide.

Guardian

 

Financial stocks boost NSE’s turnover by 87.8%

The financial services industry dominated in volume terms at the end of last week’s transactions on the trading floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). It led the activity chart with 1.365 billion shares valued at N6.507billion traded in 10,880 deals; thus contributing 87.76 per cent to the total equity turnover volume.

Guardian

 

Afreximbank tells Africa to harness its resources

From the pan-African multilateral financial institution, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) at the weekend, came a timely reminder to the continent’s leadership and policymakers to be devoted to harnessing huge resources for the development of the region.

Guardian

 

2017: NPA to spend N278bn of N288bn revenue

The Nigerian Ports Authority has projected N288bn revenue for the 2017 fiscal year and plans to spend N278bn on recurrent and capital expenditures, leaving only N10bn for the Federal Government.

The NPA also proposed a surplus of N8bn in 2017.

Punch

 

World Bank reveals how much it has invested in Nigeria

The World Bank Group has said it has an investment portfolio of about $8.5billion scattered across states in Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement issued on Sunday by Olufunke Olufon, a Senior Communications Officer at World Bank Nigeria.

Daily Post

 

Naira appreciates by 19 Kobo to close at N360.31 to Dollar

The Naira, on Tuesday, appreciated to N360.31 per dollar at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange (NAFEX) Window.

Data from the Financial Market Dealers Quote (FMDQ), showed that the indicative exchange rate NAFEX Window, dropped to 360.31 per dollar, Tuesday, from Monday’s closing market rate which stood at N360.50 per dollar.

Daily Post 

26 Sep 2017

GRF DALLEY NEWSLETTER 0037 – A COMPILATION OF LEGAL NEWS AND EVENTS

 

CBN injects $195m ahead of MPC decisions

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday, boosted the foreign exchange market by offering a total of $195m in three segments of the market, ahead of today’s Monetary Policy Committee’s decisions, even as the naira appreciated to N360.31 per dollar

 

 

Vanguard

 

NNPC subsidiary, NETCO, records N5.1bn profit for 2015, 2016 financial year

 

The breakdown shows that N1.4 billion was recorded for 2015 while N3.7 billion was recorded for 2016. NETCO was established in 1989 to acquire engineering technology through direct involvement in all aspects of engineering in the oil, gas and non-oil sectors of the economy.

 

 

 

Vanguard

NPDC targets 500,000bpd oil production by 2020

The Managing Director of NPDC, Mr. Yusuf Matashi, who disclosed this in Benin, said the planned increase in the company’s equity production was due to the ongoing transformation in NNPC.“

 

 

 

 

Sun News

CBN, Aviation Ministry open talks to crash interest rate to 9%

Nigeria’s apex bank had left the country’s key interest rate unchanged at 14 per cent for more than a year, but ahead of plans to concession key airports to private firms, aviation ministry’s policymakers believe there is need to cut down interest rate to single digit and provide a special funding window particularly for local investors interested in the airports. The government’s vision is to create one or two hubs from the concessioned airports.

 

Sun News

 

 

18 Sep 2017

GRF DALLEY NEWSLETTER 0036 – A COMPILATION OF LEGAL NEWS AND EVENTS

 

AFC: Nigeria needs $3tr to fix infrastructure

The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) has said Nigeria needs $3 trillion to fix huge infrastructure deficit in the country over the next three decades.The AFC President/Chief Executive Andrew Alli, who disclosed this at the weekend during a news conference in Lagos, also called on government to allow cost-reflective tariffs so as to boost power supply in the country.He regretted that while government must be a primary source of funding, Federal and State Governments’ fiscal inflows are grossly inadequate to match the pace of investments required in infrastructure.Represented by a top executive of the corporation, Fowler Fagbule, Alli said the Nigerian government ability to spend is limited based on what it earns.

The Nation

 

Union Bank floats N50b rights issue Wednesday

Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) Plc has concluded arrangements to float its N50 billion rights issue on Wednesday as the first generation bank seeks to regain its leadership in the banking industry.Union Bank plans to raise N49.745 billion from existing shareholders through a rights issue of 12.133 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N4.10 per share. The rights issue has been pre-allotted on the basis of five new ordinary shares of 50 kobo each for every seven ordinary shares held as at the close of business on Monday August 21, 2017.Application for the rights issue will open on Wednesday and close on Monday October 30, 2017.

 

The Nation

Nigeria Can Generate N56bn From Coal Briquettes In 3 Years – Experts

Nigeria can make a whopping N56billion in 3 years by reviving the coal industry, especially with the use of coal briquettes for industrial and domestic use, economic experts in the country have said.They told LEADERSHIP that the use of coal briquettes will help in the diversification agenda of the federal government, especially as the global market for oil and gas appears to be shrinking by the day.An industrial pharmacist and specialist in marketing new technologies, Mr Emmanuel Nwankwo, said Nigeria really needs to go back to basics, which is the use of coal since it has it in abundance, starting from Enugu State.

The Leadership

 

 Nigeria To Unveil Biggest Oil And Gas Trade Show In Africa

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources will assemble upstream, mid-stream and downstream oil and gas professionals from around the world for the its inaugural Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS)holding from 19th to 23rd February 2018 at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.According to the organisers of the event, this will be the biggest technical and strategic business conference in the petroleum sector in Africa, as it will present current best practices and emerging technologies to attending engineers, scientists, academia, managers and executives. At the same time, the conference’s exhibiting companies will feature the latest products and services.

 

Leadership

CBN Boosts Financial Inclusion With Non-Interest Banking

With huge percentage of the unbanked populace in the country due to religion belief, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has continued to drive financial inclusion in various ways, by reviewing its guild lines on Islamic Banking (non-interest Banking).Specifically, the CBN in August set up two new financial instruments namely, “Funding for liquidity Facility (FflF)’’ and ‘’Intra-day Facility (IDF)’’ to provide liquidity management for non-interest banks. The two new financial instruments were also designed to help foster growth in emerging Islamic finance industry.

 

Leadership

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Sep 2017

GRF DALLEY NEWSLETTER 0035 – A COMPILATION OF LEGAL NEWS AND EVENTS

Financial stocks lift NSE’s turnover by N17.5bn

As Exchange seals broadcasting deal with CBS
Heavy transactions in the shares of some banks last week, lifted the volume of shares traded, as a turnover of 887.024 million shares worth N17.450billion was recorded in 16,955 deals by investors on the Exchange. This was higher than the 998.973 million units valued at N11.455billion that changed hands in 13,626 deals in the preceding week.

DAILYPOST.NG

Shell strikes Nigerian gas deal

Royal Dutch Shell is joining forces with a Nigerian company to develop gas pipeline infrastructure in the country in a deal that highlights the push by the world’s biggest energy groups to entrench demand for gas in growing economies of Africa.

NEWSSTAND.GOOGLE.COM

Arik Air files N20bn suit against Nigerian govt, Ethiopian Airlines

Arik Air Limited has filled a N20 billion suit against the Nigerian government and Ethiopian Airlines over ‘negotiation’ for the takeover of the airline.

Financial stocks lift NSE’s turnover by N17.5bn
Heavy transactions in the shares of some banks last week, lifted the volume of shares traded, as a turnover of 887.024 million shares worth N17.450billion was recorded.

DAILYPOST.NG

Fresh Pressure On Nigeria Over Oil Production Cut As OPEC Meets

The pressure on Nigeria to reduce its crude oil production figure of 1.8 million per day is expected to increase as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meets on Friday, September 22, 2017 in Vienna, Austria.

ALLAFRICA.COM

 

 

Stockbrokers Canvass Easier Access to Asem Board for SMEs

Capital market stakeholders have urged regulators to make the listing requirements for accessing the Alternative Securities Market (ASeM) less stringent to attract more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) participation on the platform, and grow the primary market segment of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

ALLAFRICA.COM

06 Sep 2017

GRF DALLEY NEWSLETTER 0034 – A COMPILATION OF LEGAL NEWS AND EVENTS

Nigeria

 

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PLANS TO LAUNCH A SERIES OF ONE STOP SHOPS FOR INTERFACE ENTREPRENEURS

The Federal Government plans to launch a series of one-stop shops across the country to facilitate smoother government regulation and interface between entrepreneurs and agencies like the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and others. The One-Stop Shop programme is part of the on-going nationwide Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Clinics for Viable Enterprises (MSME Clinics) initiated by the Presidency in January 2017, aimed at providing a platform for convenient and easy interactions between regulatory agencies and MSMEs doing business in Nigeria.

The Guardian

ICTMI: FG REVOKES LAGOS TRADE FAIR COMPLEX CONCESSION

 The National Council on Privatisation, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has approved the immediate revocation of the concession of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex. The trade fair complex was in 2008 given to Aulic Nigeria Limited as a concession, a move that had come under severe criticism by several trade groups. The NCP also approved the commencement of the privatisation of the Afam Power plants 1-5 in a bid to injecting additional power into the national grid and improving electricity supply nationwide, as well as the immediate commencement of fresh privatisation of Yola Electricity Distribution Company.

Punch

EGBIN TO CONSTRUCT N432 BILLION POWER PLANT

Egbin Power Plc has unveiled plans to invest $1.2 billion (N432 billion) for the construction of 1,575 Mega Watts in Nigeria.The plant which is expected to be completed by 2020, is expected to increase the supply of electricity to homes and businesses in the country,
According to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Egbin Power Plant, Dallas Peavey, the environmental assessment for the proposed plant has been completed. “We are beginning the preliminary engineering for the design and we have already secured the land.
Guardian

BOL, MADE SEAL PACT ON FUNDING FOR LEATHER PRODUCTION

DAI- Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE The Bank of Industry (BoI) has partnered) and the Leather Product Manufacturers, to drive leather production in Nigeria.Indeed, the Development Finance Institution (DFI) noted that the leather industry has the capacity to drive economic growth as well as creating job opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming unemployed youths.The Managing Director, BoI, Investment and Trust Company (ITC), Betsy Obaseki, explained that as a DFI, its mandate is to stimulate and drive industrial development across the country, pointing out that it had identified the Aba cluster as a potential hub to drive leather production in Nigeria.

Guardian

INDICES SUSTAINS SLIDING PROFILE, DEPRECIATES FURTHER BY N20 BILLION

The news from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the Nigerian economy has finally crawled out of recession after five consecutive quarters of negative growth could not buoy investments in the equities market, as the bears retained their strong hold with a galore of losses. Thus, price losses outweigh gains on equities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) yesterday, as more highly capitalised stocks joined the league of losers’ resulting to a further slide in market capitalisation by N20billion. Specifically, at the close of trading yesterday, market capitalisation of listed equities fell by 0.16 per cent to N12.217trillion from N12.237trillion traded last week Thursday. Also the NSE All Share Index depreciated by 58.17 basis points to 35446.45 points from 35504.62 recorded previously.

Guardian

NIGERIANS MUST FEEL IMPACT OF EXITING RECESSION, SAYS BUHARI

“Until coming out of recession translates into meaningful improvement in people’s lives, our work cannot be said to be done.’’With these words yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari declared that despite the claim by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the country has exited recession, the real impact would be better felt when ordinary Nigerians experience a change in their living conditions. Ordinary Nigerians cannot see an end to the recession as long as the prices of food items are still high. Buhari, who spoke in his country home in Daura, Katsina State when he received the President of Niger, Alhaji Mahamadou Issoufou, told reporters that he was “very happy’’ to hear the country was finally out of recession. He commended all the managers of the economy for their hard work.

Guardian

CHINESE OIL GIANT SINOPEC PROBED BY THE U.S OVER NIGERIA BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS

U.S. authorities are investigating china petroleum over allegations that the state-controlled oil producer paid Nigerian officials about $100 million worth of bribes to resolve a business dispute, according to people familiar with the probe.

Investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department looking into allegations that outside lawyers acting as middlemen for the company, known as Sinopec, funnelled illicit payments from its Swiss unit to the Nigerians through banks in New York and California, said the two people, who didn’t want to be named discussing an active investigation.

The alleged payments were intended to resolve a $4 billion dispute between the Chinese oil company’s Addax Petroleum unit in Geneva and the Nigerian government over drilling and other capital costs, tax breaks and a division of royalties between Addax and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the people said.

Bloomberg

 

 

02 Aug 2017

GRF DALLEY NEWSLETTER 0033 – A COMPILATION OF LEGAL NEWS AND EVENTS

NIGERIA

 

Parallel currency market emerging

 A kind of parallel universe is taking shape in Nigeria’s foreign-exchange market, reports Business Report. The country’s traditional forwards market is facing competition from an upstart based on the new exchange-rate window policy makers opened six weeks ago. Bond investors and speculators are switching away from non-deliverable forwards that are linked to the main interbank exchange rate, which is tightly controlled by the central bank, and embracing the more liberal pricing mechanism. Traders expect the forwards to give them greater control in predicting future exchange rates and raise the appeal of carry trades in naira assets. ‘It’s created a situation in which you have two NDF markets,’ Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered, said by phone from London. ‘The Nafex NDF market is just emerging. So far there have been tentative trades, but we are getting to the point where market stakeholders are starting to quote consistently…’ The new forwards market comes as the Nafex window helps to alleviate the dollar squeeze and boost Nigerian assets, the report says.

Business Report

Oil price volatility raising budget finance questions

Ongoing crude oil price volatility have heightened fears of how to finance Nigeria’s 2017 budget, reports The Guardian, Nigeria. Oil prices have fallen to seven-month lows after news of increases in supply by several key producers weakened the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries attempts to support the market through an output freeze. Experts believe that this drop in crude oil prices is not good for the Nigerian economy whose 2017 budget depends on revenue from hydrocarbon execute. The director-general, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, called for a review of the entire budgetary process and to set timelines for every stage of the process.
The Guardian, Nigeria

Positive current account balance in 2016

Nigeria recorded a positive current account balance of $2.72m (N823bn) in 2016, a recovery from a deficit of $15.43m in 2015. The Guardian, Nigeria reports that this was disclosed in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ recently released 2017 Annual Statistics, which showed that Opec countries recorded a collective current account deficit of $43.740m during the period under review. Nigeria on the other hand, recorded positive current account balance of $17.56m in 2012; $19.205m in 2013; and $907,000 in 2014 before recording the highest deficit of $15.43m in 2015. Also, oil producing wells in Nigeria dropped by 279 from 1,947 in 2015 to 1,668 in 2016. Nigeria’s producing wells were 2,101 in 2014 before the decline in crude oil prices, which brought down investment in exploration activities.
The Guardian, Nigeria

Increased production sees Nigeria back as Africa’s top oil producer

Nigeria’s crude oil exports are set to reach 1.84m barrels per day (bpd) in July, says a Premium Times report. The new figure is slightly higher because of a recovery in Forcados exports, according to the nation’s recent loading programmes. Forcados exports resumed at the end of May after a nearly complete shutdown since February 2016. The report says that this has helped Nigeria return to the status of Africa’s largest oil exporter, a title it lost to Angola in 2016. The loss followed militant attacks on the nation’s oil infrastructure in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. Production has since improved, following peaceful negotiations with leaders from the region. However, the report says, with a force majeure in place on Bonny Light, and loading delays of as much as 10 days, Nigeria’s export plans for June and July are likely to change.
Premium Times report

 

Shell reviewing strategy but not quitting the country

Nigeria’s oldest energy company, Shell, has said it is reviewing its Nigeria strategy but that it does not involve quitting the country. According to a Daily Trust report, the country chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, that Shell was in Nigeria to stay and wanted to continue, ‘to play this role well into the future.’ Royal Dutch Shell had in 2016 said it would end its operations in 10 countries and sell 10% of its production as part of a $30bn asset sale plan by 2018. Shell currently has its operations in more than 70 countries; including Nigeria where it operates joint ventures with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, but said it wanted to focus on 13 nations. It did not say which countries it might exit but affirmed it was not considering leaving Nigeria.

 

Shell is considering whether to invest in a gas project in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta energy hub

The MD is quoted in a Business Recorder report as saying. Nigeria has the world’s ninth largest proven gas reserves, at 187trn cubic feet (tcf). Okunbor said it was ‘on the verge of making a final investment decision’ on a project in the city of Asa that would have a capacity of 300m cubic feet. He declined to specify the sum of money being considered as a possible investment. Okunbor said Shell was putting more emphasis on gas and reducing the oil portion of its footprint in Nigeria, although he added that the company was ‘still a significant player in onshore (oil)’.
Daily Trust
Business Recorder 

Forte Oil applies for share sale approval

Nigeria’s Forte Oil plans a 20bn naira ($66m) share sale to institutional and high net worth investors and has applied for regulatory approval, reports The Times of India. The energy firm said the capital raising will be done as a public offer for shares through a book building process to help price discovery. It has applied to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Nigerian Stock Exchange for approval. Forte said its core investor, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, owned by billionaire Femi Otedola, with a total stake of 78.08% in the company, will not participate in the offer. In 2016, Forte posted a 24% fall in pre-tax profit, which knocked it shares down 74.4%. Forte says it is on track to achieve its target for 2017 and that based on its performance so far it could pay-out half of its earnings as dividend.
The Times of India 

New airline being ‘cleared for take-off’

Nigeria’s aviation industry has suffered a prolonged spell of violent turbulence – the nation’s leading carrier was recently taken over by the government to prevent it collapsing; a crumbling runway closed the capital’s international airport for six weeks; and the whole sector has been battered by Nigeria’s recession that has driven up costs and made foreign currency scarce. But, reports KPAX, despite the gloomy conditions, a new and ambitious airline is being cleared for take-off. JetWest could make its maiden voyage in December, and the team behind it is aiming high. The report says the venture’s founder is Dikko Nwachukwu, whose mission statement is simple. ‘The guiding vision for JetWest is to make air travel accessible for more people,’ says Nwachukwu. ‘We are about democratizing the skies.’ The report says Nwachukwu sees opportunity in the vast market unserved by existing airlines. Nigeria has by far the largest population in Africa, and the entrepreneur draws inspiration from rapid progress in another technology field – cell phones. If all goes to plan, JetWest will launch this year with 100 employees and a fleet of three Airbus A320 jets flying local routes in Nigeria, the report says.
KPAX

Share restructuring will see banks take over Etisalat Nigeria

Following the failure of Etisalat Nigeria to restructure its loans amounting to N541bn, the telecommunications giant has announced a share restructuring which will see 13 commercial banks take over control of shares in the company. Naija Newsreports that Ibrahim Dikko, vice president, regulatory and corporate affairs of Etisalat, confirmed the development, noting that the negotiations with the consortium of lenders were considering a number of possible options that could include, bringing in new equity partners or a merger with other industry players. The telecommunications company had obtained the loans from 13 banks in 2013 – Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank and First Bank, among others – to refinance an existing commercial medium-term debt of $650m and continue its network rollout across the country. The parent company in Abu Dhabi, which has already converted its inter-company debts into equity, left it with little incentive to bailout its loss-making Nigerian entity.
Naija News

Bond sale to boost Ecobank Group’s capital position

Ecobank Group has received shareholders’ approval to raise $400m in convertible bonds to boost the group’s capital position. The Guardian, Nigeria reports that the convertible bond issue will have a maturity of five years and a coupon of 6.46%above 3-month LIBOR, with an option to convert at an exercise price of 6c US during the conversion period. Ecobank’s group chair, Emmanuel Ikazaboh, said that the proceeds have been earmarked to repay the bridging finance required to create a resolution vehicle to manage Ecobank’s legacy loan portfolio and optimise the maturities of the group’s debt portfolio. He added that the strategy would also improve Ecobank Nigeria’s liquidity and help in the effective management of capital, thereby accelerating the bank’s turnover.
The Guardian, Nigeria

Atlas Mara to increase stake in Union Bank of Nigeria

Atlas Mara Ltd, the African investment vehicle of former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, has announced plans to raise $200m to increase its stake in Union Bank of Nigeria and to scale up other businesses, reports The New York Times. Atlas Mara said it was buying a 13.4% stake in the Union Bank of Nigeria from Clermont Group, taking its total holding to 44.5%. The bank said it is in discussions with potential investors regarding a possible raising of new equity capital, comprising of $100m equity offering and a $100m mandatory convertible bond. The report says Diamond teamed up with Africa-based entrepreneur Ashish Thakkar to set up Atlas Mara, a vehicle through which they planned to buy up assets to help build it into a powerful force in African banking.
The New York Times 

RMB Nigeria registers commercial paper programme to raise funds

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Nigeria has received approval from FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange to register its N80bn Commercial Paper Programme on the FMDQ platform. The Guardian, Nigeria reports that the programme, which is the first for RMB Nigeria in the local money markets, will form an integral part of the bank’s funding strategy, as it provides an avenue to successfully diversify its short-term funding sources thereby delivering value to its shareholders. The move positions RMB Nigeria to easily and quickly raise short-term finance from the debt market, as well as at competitive costs. The MD of RMB Nigeria, Michael Larbie, affirmed that the bank has business interests in the country’s infrastructure projects, particularly in the power sector, which the debt proceeds will help in financing further.
The Guardian, Nigeria 

An additional $7.7bn needed for an uninterrupted power supply

Stakeholders in the Nigerian power sector have put the additional investment needed for an uninterrupted power supply at $7.7bn, reports The Guardian, Nigeria. And the government also needed to make available the promised subsidy of N100bn to assist in the rehabilitation of power plants. A former minister of power, Professor Barth Nnaji, said cost reflected tariff is also necessary to attract the required investment to the sector. A director at Eko Electricity Distribution Company and principal partner, George Etomi and Partners, George Etomi, said the privatisation agreement had set clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the owners of the distribution companies but argued that the federal government had not fulfilled its part of the agreement. He said the government was supposed to provide the N100bn subsidy, ensure the sanctity of contracts and also ensure that the investors inherited clean balance sheets, free from liabilities.
The Guardian, Nigeria 

Special task force to regulate the film and video industry

The National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) has inaugurated a special task force to check unclassified films and the video works of unlicensed distributors across the country. The newly appointed executive director of the board, Alhaji Adedayo Thomas said in a Screen Africa report: ‘As most of us are aware, the NFVCB is a strategic parastatal of the government of the federal Republic of Nigeria under the ministerial supervision of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture. It was established by Act 1993 CAP N40 LFN 2004 as a regulatory agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating the censorship, distribution and exhibition of films and video works in Nigeria, and to leverage on its regulatory roles to create a conducive environment for investment and ensure the security of such investments.’ He added, however: ‘To the detriment of the industry, we must admit that the board has not lived up to expectations in recent years, leading to chaos in the system; a chaotic system that has taken profit away from the right beneficiaries to the profiteers of the laxity in regulatory efforts.’ Thomas said that the government recognises the role that the entertainment industry plays in propelling economic growth and creating jobs, helping in the drive to diversify Nigeria’s economy and encourage more investment in the non-oil sectors.
Screen Africa

Senate leader acquitted of corruption charges

The leader of Nigeria’s Senate has been cleared of corruption charges, ending of one of the most high-profile trials in President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft campaign. According to a Business Standard report, lawyers for Bukola Saraki argued prosecutors had failed to establish a case alleging that he made a false declaration of his assets before and after his tenure as governor of Kwara state. He was also accused of collecting double salaries during his time as governor of the western state from 2003 to 2011 and as a senator after he stepped down. The case had been heard at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which tries cases of alleged abuse in public office. The report says Saraki challenged the competency of the tribunal to try him, hired a 66-lawyer defence team and turned up at hearings with dozens of senators and other politicians in support. Judge Danladi Umar said in his ruling that the prosecution ‘failed to link the defendant with the commission of the offences as charged’.
Business Standard

WEST AFRICA

Ghana remains at high risk of debt distress – IMF

The International Monetary Fund said Ghana remains at a high risk of debt distress as the West African nation plans to clear arrears owed by energy utilities through the sale of a 10bn cedi ($2.3bn) local-currency bond. Fin24 reports that Ghana and the Washington-based lender are in talks over the terms of a three-year debt-support program that is scheduled to conclude in April 2018 as the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer’s debt rose to 73% of gross domestic product at the end of last year. The government said last month that it may issue a bond through a special-purpose vehicle to clear the debts that the state-owned electricity company and petroleum service providers owe to banks and other credit providers. Bank of Ghana governor Ernest Addison, who was appointed in April, said last month that the bond sale wouldn’t add to the debt stock if the government issues it through a special purpose vehicle and uses energy sector levies to service it. Discussions between the parties on how the bailout programme’s objective of lower public debt can be achieved are continuing, and include the possibility of extending the debt programme, the IMF said.
Fin24