Author: GRF Dalley & Partners

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

03 Jul 2017

GRF DALLEY NEWSLETTER 0032 – A COMPILATION OF LEGAL NEWS AND EVENTS

NIGERIA

 

‘Well positioned’ to be Africa’s most advanced economy
Nigeria presents an interesting tale of seeming opposites in the African growth agenda. While it took pole position as the largest economy on the continent in 2016, it’s also suffered its worst recession in 25 years. Charles Weller, the Head of FI Trade Nigeria for Barclays Africa, writes in The Huffington Post that the last 24 months, in particular, have been difficult for the nation as an exodus of foreign direct investment and assets took place prior to and at the time of the last presidential elections in February 2015. The country faced a liquidity crunch, with the central bank and Nigerian Stock Exchange facing trials and the country’s reserves decreasing from over $50bn to $20bn. Overseas remittances also contributed to the crisis. Remittances are the second highest source of foreign exchange in Nigeria. Weller writes that the difficulties of the past two years have caused the country to diversify its economy, with less reliance on oil and greater investment in industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and retail. There’s also been an increased focus on local producers, which drives growth. With improved transparency between banks and international companies, greater regulation and an increasingly inclusive economy, he says, Nigeria is well-positioned to be the most advanced economy on the continent.

Nigeria has been identified as one of the top five countries for growth acceleration for 2018, reports THISDAY. Other countries in the group include Kuwait, Oman, Kazakhstan and Tunisia. The global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, Charles Robertson, who made this forecast in a report titled: ‘Africa 2017,’ urged investors to take advantage of the opportunities in these countries. ‘These are some of the markets I think investors should be considering because of the growth acceleration story,’ he explained. According to Robertson, Nigeria still has a very positive demography, pointing out that the country’s working age population has been growing at 15% over the past five years. He also noted that there has been improvement in Nigeria’s legal system. Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele recently predicted that with economic policies put in place by the Nigerian government, the country should be out of recession by the third quarter of the year.

But a year after Nigeria’s government passed an ambitious plan to revamp its capital markets, The Banker reports that low trading volumes, high inflation and a lack of economic policy direction have investors voicing doubts over whether stocks and bonds can power the growth of Africa’s most populous country. Nigeria’s ‘capital market masterplan’, a framework released in 2015 to overhaul the country’s stock and bond trading over the next 10 years, is jeopardised by low market liquidity and high inflation caused by the recession, according to analysts and fund managers. ‘It’s one thing to have a developmental framework on paper. It’s another thing to actually put it into action,’ says Bayo Adeleke, national secretary of the Independent Shareholders
Association of Nigeria. ‘If the economy is a little more buoyant, I think we’ll be able to face this proposal for the capital market and look at areas we can accelerate.’ ‘Many of the frameworks that should launch this market to where it should be are already in place,’ says Pabina Yinkere, head of research at Vetiva. Yinkere says for the progress of the capital markets to continue, liquidity must increase. ‘If companies see that there are values in being listed, that they can come to this market and raise money and the market is close to efficient in pricing, (and) that the market is transparent, then it can encourage listings,’ he says.
The Huffington Post
THISDAY
The Banker

US and UK confidence in Osinbajo’s ability to govern
The US and the UK have expressed no doubt in the ability and commitment of acting President Yemi Osinbajo to continue with the anti-corruption war and economic revival in Nigeria. According to a Punch, Nigeria report, the two countries said that they have confidence in Osinbajo to carry on with the ‘quality leadership’ President Muhammadu Buhari has been providing the country. The President left for the UK last Sunday to receive medical attention and he is expected to be there for an indefinite time, according to his media aide, Femi Adesina. The report says in the last few weeks, some prominent Nigerians had been worried about a cabal that has purportedly hijacked power in the Presidency due to Buhari’s protracted illness, leaving Osinbajo in the cold. Spokesperson for the US Embassy in Nigeria, Russell Brooks, said President Donald Trump’s administration believed in Buhari and Osinbajo. Brooks said: ‘We are very much in favour of President (Muhammadu) Buhari’s campaign against corruption. We also believe that Acting President (Yemi) Osinbajo is strongly committed to this agenda and will continue to pursue it while President Buhari is out of the country.’

Buhari has travelled to London for follow-up consultations with doctors after a previous trip there earlier in 2017, reports Business Day. ‘Government will continue to function normally under the able leadership’ of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Adesina said. The duration of Buhari’s absence would be determined by doctors, Adesina said. ‘The president wishes to assure all Nigerians that there is no cause for worry,’ the spokesperson said. Buhari, president since 2015, returned to the country on 10 March after a seven-week medical leave to treat an undisclosed ailment in the UK, and has missed the past three weekly cabinet meetings.

Reacting to speculation about a military coup, the UK government has warned against ‘non-democratic’ change of government in Nigeria, amid speculations about military coup as concerns grow over Buhari’s health. ‘The British government believes that democracy is actually critical in Nigeria,’ the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, is quoted in a Premium Times report as saying. ‘There are elections. If you’re not happy with your leaders then you should change your leadership through the democratic process and through elections.’ The report says his comments came a day after the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, warned of suspect communication between Army officers and politicians.

Osinbajo will sign off on the 2017 budget when he is satisfied with the content, Premium Times reports his spokesperson said. Coming shortly after Buhari’s ‘medical follow-up’ letter to the Senate had generated controversy, Nigerians started expressing concerns over the effectiveness of Osinbajo. The report says that in the letter, Buhari invoked Section 145(1) of the Constitution, transferring full powers to Osinbajo, but said his deputy would ‘coordinate’ affairs of the government in his absence. The report says Buhari’s use of ‘coordinate’ instead of ‘will perform duties of my office’ or ‘act on my behalf’ as previously used had unsettled the polity. But the spokesperson to the acting president, Laolu Akande, said Osinbajo would sign the budget into law in due course.
Punch, Nigeria
Business Day
Premium Times
Premium Times

Rules to stop transactions with non-CAC registered companies
A new set of rules will allow Nigeria’s government to make good on its threats to sever ties with organisations that do not add economic value to its efforts to raise the country’s revenue profile, reports The Guardian, Nigeria. Ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have been ordered to stop transactions with companies and other corporate bodies that are not duly registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The measure is aimed at protecting MDAs from entering contractual obligations with fake or unregistered companies. The development means that for companies and other corporate bodies to qualify for business transactions with the MDAs, their letterhead must bear the registration number as issued by CAC.
The Guardian, Nigeria

Nigeria looks at setting up a national airline
Nigeria has appointed advisers to help it set up a national airline and develop its aviation infrastructure – currently seen as a barrier to economic growth – to create a hub for West Africa. Reuters Africa reports that this is according to junior aviation minister Hadi Sirika who said a group of six firms, including German carrier Lufthansa, would advise the government on setting up an airline, an aviation leasing company and a maintenance hanger, and on creating concessions to run the country’s airports. The report says a cabinet meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had approved N1.52bn ($4.99m) of funding for the project. Decades of neglect and lack of investment have left Nigeria with low-quality infrastructure that is seen as a hurdle to prosperity and the government has already said that upgrading it will require private investment. The government set up a committee on establishing a national airline in 2015, in fulfillment of the campaign promises which brought Buhari’s All Progressive Congress to power.

A likely merger and conversion of assets of Arik Air and Aero Contractors is one of the options being considered by the government. The Guardian, Nigeria reports that this option is due to the airlines’ alleged debt burden – despite the government’s recent intervention and their takeover by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the airlines are not delivering in terms of operations and debt payment. The report says the plan – not favoured by some stakeholders – will further reduce private domestic operations to six airlines. The report quotes sources in the Ministry of Aviation as saying that ‘all options, including the rumour surrounding Arik Air, Aero, are all on the table…’
Reuters Africa
The Guardian, Nigeria

Etisalat loan negotiation talks deadlocked
Discussions between Etisalat Nigeria and its lenders to renegotiate the terms of a $1.2bn loan have reached deadlock after the telecoms firm missed a payment, says a Nigerian Bulletin report. Lenders, under pressure to avoid loan-loss provisions, are pushing to finalise the debt restructuring before next month’s half-yearly audit, a banking source is quoted as saying. Etisalat met with the lenders, led by Guaranty Trust Bank, in London, on 28 April but they could not agree a way forward. The telecom firm signed the medium-term seven-year facility with 13 local banks in 2013 to refinance a $650m loan and fund expansion of its network, but is now struggling to repay. A source at Etisalat, which owns 45% of the Nigerian company, said the company was not willing to invest more after converting some loans it made to the affiliate to equity and writing down its investment to $50m.
Nigerian Bulletin

Nigeria looking to be IsDB’s regional hub in Africa
Nigeria may become the regional operational hub of the 43-year old Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in Africa. According to a Daily Trust report, the development finance institution is considering a proposal to expand its existing country gateway office in Abuja to serve as a key regional office. The office, which was opened by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun earlier in the year, will co-ordinate the operations of the Bank in its West and Central African member-countries, which constitute a majority of the 27 African countries in the Institution. The report says the Abuja gateway office will serve Nigeria, Gabon, Niger, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Cameroon, Uganda, Senegal, Djibouti and Guinea Bisaau, among others. Nigeria is an active member of the bank and has benefitted from its development financing programmes located in various parts of the country.
Daily Trust

World Bank loan to generate more electricity sought
Nigeria is seeking $5.2bn from the World Bank to expand electricity generation and help the economy recover from its first contraction in 25 years, reports Business Report.
The bank’s private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation, may invest about $1.3bn in power projects and electricity distribution companies. Its political-risk insurer, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, could provide equity and debt of $1.4bn for gas and solar power programmes, according to Power, Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola. That’s in addition to loans of $2.5bn Nigeria is seeking from the lender to help improve the distribution of power, expand transmission-capacity and increase access to electricity in rural areas, Fashola said. Africa’s most populous nation produces about 4,000 megawatts of power compared with an average peak generation of about 35,000 megawatts in South Africa, with a population that’s less than a third of the size of Nigeria’s 180m people.
Business Report

Billions stolen between 1960-2014
A Chatham House – the Royal Institute of International Affairs independent policy institute – report has estimated that at least $480bn was stolen by corrupt officials between 1960 and 2004. The Guardian, Nigeria reports that the report, titled “Collective Action on Corruption in Nigeria, a Social Norms Approach to Connecting Societies and Institutions,” said that close to $400bn was stolen from Nigeria’s public accounts from 1960 to 1999. It added that between 2005 and 2014, $182bn was lost through illicit financial flows from the country. British Ambassador to Nigeria, Paul Awkright, said at the launch that corruption is bad for people and business. The study, co-authored by Dr Leena Koni Hoffman, an associate fellow of the Africa programme at Chatham House and Raj Navanit Patel, a consultant at the University of Pennsylvania, suggested policy approaches to dealing with corruption and offered methods of integrating behavioural insights into anti-corruption strategies.

Some Nigerian banks are being investigated for allegedly colluding with some international oil companies to defraud Nigeria. Vanguard reports that a document showed that the affected banks were asked by the Senate to submit all copies of certified Nigeria export proceeds issued/or processed by them in respect of all crude oil and gas exported by Nigeria Agip Company Ltd, Chevron Nigeria Ltd, Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Ltd and their affiliates between April 1996 and December, 2016. The affected banks were also asked to produce all domiciliary accounts opened and /or closed within the period specified for all crude oil and gas exported.
The Guardian, Nigeria
Chatham House report
Vanguard

Former warlord and UK firm linked to dodgy defence deal
Anti-corruption investigators in four countries are examining a UK firm’s links to a multimillion-pound defence deal involving a former Nigerian warlord. The Guardian reports that investigators in the UK, the UK, Nigeria and Norway are scrutinising Cas-Global after it was alleged that the firm paid a bribe to a Norwegian official as part of the sale of seven decommissioned naval vessels. In the UK, Cas-Global has been the subject of an investigation since 2014 by the City of London police’s specialist anti-corruption unit. The report says the investigation is part of an effort by the UK to improve its record on prosecuting companies who are said to pay bribes to foreign officials and politicians to land contracts overseas. The Norwegian authorities are prosecuting a civil servant, Bjørn Stavrum, over allegations that he was paid $154,000 by Cas-Global to help secure the sale of the naval vessels. Stavrum denies the claims. Ekpemupolo has denied being involved in corruption.
The Guardian

Committee discovers forex discrepancies worth millions
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on the Review of Pump Price of Petroleum, said it has discovered discrepancies in the records of the Central Bank of Nigeria, showing that $270m worth of foreign exchange (forex) remains unaccounted for. The Guardian, Nigeria reports that the latest discovery is among several others uncovered in the recent past, showing irregularities in forex handling and diversion of petroleum products by operators in the oil industry. At a recent investigative hearing, where some oil lifting and distributing companies appeared, the chair of the ad-hoc committee, the Honorable Nnana Igbokwe, blamed the companies for their unclear activities, which he said have contributed to the recent hike in the litre price of fuel.
The Guardian, Nigeria

Corruption weakens military’s fight against Boko Haram
Military corruption is weakening Nigeria’s efforts to battle the Islamist insurgency of Boko Haram, the watchdog Transparency International said in a Reuters Africa report. Its report underlines the difficulty of achieving two key promises of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 election campaign: tackling endemic corruption and defeating an insurgency that has claimed over 20,000 lives and displaced millions. Last year, Nigeria’s vice president said around $15bn had been stolen from the public purse under the previous government through fraudulent arms procurement deals. Transparency International said this had left the military ‘without vital equipment, insufficiently trained, low in morale and under-resourced’. A defence spokesperson said the allegations were false for the current crop of military officers. Transparency International said Nigeria should make its defence budget and procurement systems more transparent to ensure that contracts were not inflated, or given to shell companies to conceal the true beneficiary.
Reuters Africa

Northern traditional leader investigated for corruption
Legislators in northern Nigeria have opened an investigation into corruption claims against one of the country’s leading traditional rulers, whose progressive views have caused controversy in a conservative region. Business Day reports that the legislature in Kano state has set up a committee to investigate eight allegations against the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, over the ‘embezzlement of funds belonging to the emirate council’. Other claims include abuse of office and improper conduct. The eight-member committee is expected to report its findings to the state’s house of assembly within two weeks. The announcement came two weeks after the Kano state anticorruption agency began looking into the finances of the state-funded emirate council – the equivalent of a royal court. That probe centres on the use of 6bn naira ($19m) of palace funds to pay for cars, chartered flights, phone and internet bills as well as other personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the matter. The council has denied the allegations.
Business Day

Ringtones boosting artists’ back pockets
In Nigeria, performing artists have long been left to their own devices because of the lack of a structured market, making them powerless against piracy, which accounts for most sales. But says a Business Day report, for the last three years, there’s been a revolution in Nigeria’s music industry because of digital sales and especially mobile phones, which are bringing in increasingly more revenue. Analysts PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimated in a report published late last year that Nigeria’s music industry was worth $47m in 2015 and should rise to $86m by 2020. ‘Nigeria’s total music revenue is dependent on ringtones and ringback tones, with the legitimate music sector being small otherwise,’ it said. MTN, which has 60m subscribers in Nigeria, says it is the largest distributor of music. ‘There are lots of talented musicians in this market who had issues with piracy; it was difficult for them to sell their music,’ says MTN Nigeria’s marketing director, Richard Iweanoge. ‘Nigerians actually wanted to buy music, they just didn’t have the means to acquire it legally.’
Business Day

IN COURT


Village sues Eni for oil spill damage
A Nigerian village has filed a lawsuit in Milan against Italian oil company Eni demanding compensation for damage caused by an oil pipeline explosion in 2010, an Italian lawyer representing the village is quoted in Reuters Africa as saying. The village of Ikebiri in the Niger Delta is asking Eni for €2m ($2.2m) in damages along with a commitment to clean up the area covering more than 43 acres (17 hectares), Luca Saltalamacchia said. ‘The explosion that happened near a river caused an environmental disaster that polluted water and land,’ Saltalamacchia said. The report says mining and energy firms around the world have battled a spate of cases brought in international courts against their subsidiaries in other countries. Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell successfully fought efforts by one Nigerian community to sue the company in British courts, but it settled another case brought in London by a Nigerian community in 2015. According to Saltalamacchia, Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited, which is owned by Eni, has claimed it has already carried out cleaning up operations in the area.
Reuters Africa

High Court adjourns former first lady’s case
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has adjourned to 22 May, a suit seeking final forfeiture to the Federal Government, of the sum of $5.8m belonging to former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. The Guardian, Nigeria reports that Justice Mojisola Olatoregun granted the adjournment following an argument by counsel to Jonathan, Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), that the respondent was not given sufficient notice to file a response.
The Guardian, Nigeria

Chief justice in court for failing to recall suspended judges
An Abuja-based legal practitioner, Olugbenga Adeyemi, has dragged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, and National Judicial Council (NJC) before the Federal High Court in Abuja for failing to recall suspended judges, who have yet to be linked with any act of corruption. Vanguard reports that they were among superior court judges that were arrested and detained after a ‘sting operation’ conducted by the Department of State Service last year. The report says the NJC, under the leadership of retired CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, initially refused to suspend the affected judges, however, it eventually succumbed to pressure from the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and asked the judges to temporarily step-down from the bench pending determination of corruption allegations against them.
Vanguard