A decade-long protracted face-off between Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and the Federal Government over the concession agreement of the N36 billion Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) terminal could be over soon. The Federal Government, through the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed that the Federal Government would honour the agreement of 36 years and not 12 years as being peddled by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). The government signed the concession agreement with Bi-Courtney to build the ultra-modern terminal under the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement.
With the implementation, the aviation firm can now do regional flight operations from the terminal.
Four years ago, the government prevented the aviation firm operating from MMA2 after reportedly spending over N1 billion to provide facilities at the terminal.
Speaking at the quarterly Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI) held in Lagos yesterday, with theme, “Aviation as a catalyst for economic growth”, Mohammed stated that flouting of agreements by government would send a very wrong signal to the international community that the country does not respect business pact.
His words: “Agreements must be obeyed. We cannot continue as a government to look at colour, religion and ethnicity in making decisions. When you draw an agreement, it is not the fault of the other party if you don’t come with competent people to draw up an agreement. You can’t blame the other party. Agreements must be obeyed. We will obey the agreement as a government with the case of MMA2.”
He stated that the multi-billion airport terminal was the best in Nigeria that should be replicated, adding that: “If MMA2 was a mistake, we need to make more of such mistakes. We know what the problems are and we need solution to the problem.”
Chairman of BASL, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), said aviation could be a catalyst for economic growth, but lamented the breach of agreement between his firm and aviation authorities.
Babalakin noted that the face-off between his firm and FAAN prompted the intervention of former President Umar Musa Yar’Adua.
“The late president ordered FAAN to implement the agreement after listening to the argument of both parties,” he said.
Babalakin said the controversy over the concession sprang up as a result of the alleged breach of contract by the government.
He noted that the MMA2 concession agreement stipulated that all domestic flights from Lagos, as well as revenues accruing from such flights, were to be operated by BASL.
According to him, the company was shocked when Arik Air began to operate from the General Aviation Terminal (GAT).
“Our lawyers had anticipated that it was possible that somebody would try to break the law. Even if you break that law, the agreement will now say all revenues must come to us and we should be given the first option to make any such development. When this happened, we complained. We now went to the arbitration panel set up by the Attorney General of the Federation. It has three members from Bi-Courtney and three from the Federal Government,” he said.
Babalakin alleged that the agreement unanimously reached by the panel was never implemented, leaving the company with no option than to go to court, which ruled in BASL’s favour in 2009.
“We went back to court to seek for damages. After considering every submission, the court awarded us N132 billion damages in 2012, which remains unpaid till date,” he said.
He added that six appeals were filed by the Federal Government, Arik Air, National Association of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), and two others, which were all dismissed.
“Arik went to the Supreme Court, but the case was dismissed in five minutes. Since 2012, the same authorities have been accumulating this money, which is now N200 billion,” Babalakin added.
He further stated that there was an agreement that Bi-Courtney Services would reconstruct the terminal for N2.7 billion, saying that “government had wanted to construct a shed and not a terminal building.”
Chairman, Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema, carpeted the aviation agencies for lack of infrastructure at most of the aerodromes, causing a huge dislocation in operations.
The airline chief urged government to look at the arbitrary hike and multiple charges that reduce the lifespan of airlines.
Senator Adamu hits ex-President: Obasanjo should be in jail
- Buhari: We’ll sell all recovered stolen assets
“President Buhari has not bothered to interrogate Obasanjo’s role in the Halliburton scandal for which some Americans are cooling their heels in jail. Perhaps Buhari might wish to look into the Siemens affairs in which the Obasanjo administration was indicted”
Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West) has hit hard at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying that the former Nigerian leader is supposed to be in prison for allegedly perpetrating monumental corruption in office.
Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State (199-2007) on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also faulted the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari. He described the ongoing anti-graft war as selective, and such informed the reason Obasanjo was not committed to prison.
“Were the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari total and blanket in nature, corrupt minded Nigerians like former President Olusegun Obasanjo is supposed to be cooling their feet in jail by now,” Adamu stated yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing.
The lawmaker, who was reacting to the recent letter issued by Obasanjo to Buhari on his performance in governance, said that he was in agreement with the former President’s submission that the anti-corruption war as presently being prosecuted, was selective, pointing out that Obasanjo was a beneficiary of the defective anti-corruption fight.
He said: “Chief Obasanjo said that President Buhari is selective in his anti- corruption war. I agree with him because if the President were not selective, Chief Obasanjo himself would be in the dock today on trial on charges of corruption arising from the corrupt practices in the pursuit of his third term gambit in the National Assembly in 2006.
“He (Obasanjo) knows as well as I and other leading members of the PDP he badly wanted it and initiated the process of constitutional amendment. He bribed each member of the National Assembly who signed to support the amendment, with the whopping sum of N50 million.
“The fresh mint money was taken in its original boxes presumably from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and distributed among the legislators. “The money was not his, and it was not appropriated by the National Assembly as required by law. I, therefore, agree that in failing to make former President Obasanjo account for the money, President Buhari is waging his anti-corruption war selectively.
“Nor should we forget that President Buhari has also not bothered to interrogate Obasanjo’s role in the Halliburton scandal for which some Americans are cooling their heels in jail. Perhaps President Buhari might wish to look into the Siemens affairs in which the Obasanjo administration was indicted.”
Adamu, who was governor of Nasarawa State under Obasanjo, also discountenanced the former president’s low marks for Buhari’s government on economy and security, declaring that Buhari inherited most of the problems threatening the country, and not the making of his administration. “Every administration grapples with problems thrown at it by circumstances beyond its control. President Buhari inherited an economy that was unsteady on its feet.
“He also inherited the security problems such as Boko Haram, armed robberies and kidnappings. Yes, I agree that under his watch these problems should grow less, not more. But the solution to problems such as these is a slow and agonising process since he has no powers to simply make them disappear overnight,” he said.
The lawmaker, who was visibly infuriated, noted that Obasanjo nearly collapsed the system, claiming that his (Obasanjo’s) eight years in government almost ruined the hardearned democratic governance in Nigeria as a result of self-delusion and messianic mentality.
His words: “He waged his anti-corruption in a manner intended to rubbish all our reserved institutions such as the courts and the National Assembly in a way to be the only Nigerian without palm oil on his hands. “The courts quaked over his unconstitutional rampage. Chief Obasanjo left our democracy in a lurch.
He was like a wrecking ball. In 2007, he alone decided his successor in office contrary to the rules of the game, the repercussions and consequences of which are now history.” He further posited that the coalition Obasanjo started nurturing would not fly, saying that it would end as an exercise in political deception, stressing that if he didn’t desist from certain behavioural tendencies, he would end up being a national nuisance and irrelevant figure.
“His coalition for Nigeria is a red herring across supthe path of our constitutional government. He is free to form a political movement and pursue his ambition of being the power behind the throne, but such a national movement would achieve no discernible purpose in the economic management and the social administration of the country.
“I believe that Chief Obasanjo is too high and too big in the estimation of the people to permit himself the continued sickening indulgence in political skulduggery. I believe that the Nigerian people and the Nigerian state have been most kind to him.
“Chief Obasanjo has a moral obligation to make the country succeed in solving its myriads of problems. That, I believe, is one way he can give back to the country that has given him so much,” he stated.
He, however, said that similar reaction was not needed for the purported statement issued by former President Ibrahim Babangida since according to him, it was riddled in controversy of genuineness.
AG F queries Magu, Keyamo over graft charge against CCT chair
- AGF gives EFCC chair, SAN, 48 hours to justify action
The Federal Government has queried the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, over the two-count corruption charge recently filed by the anti-graft agency against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Umar. Also queried along Magu is Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN) engaged by the EFCC to prosecute the case.
In the query dated February 16, 2018 and with Reference No DPP/ ADV:368/15, Magu was ordered to make his response to the query available to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018 (today). In the query, signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, Magu is to explain what informed the re-filing of cor-upruption charges against the tribunal chairman, having been cleared of corruption allegation two times by the same EFCC.
The query, titled “FRN VS Danladi Umar (CR/109/18) request for briefing,” read in part: “The attention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation was drawn to news report that the EFCC has filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.
“I am directed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to seek clarification from you as to whether the charges were filed on your instruction or directive and, if in the affirmative, what is the compelling basis for doing so? This clarification becomes imperative in view of the following background facts.
“The Commission’s investigation report, dated 5th March 2015 and addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, stated as follows: “The facts as they are now against Justice Umar raised a mere suspicion and will, therefore, not be sufficient to successfully prosecute for the defence.
“The Commission’s position in paragraph 2(a) above was also maintained and sustained by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation while appearing before the House of Representatives’ Investigative Committee sometimes in 2015 to the effect that report of investigations showed that the allegations against Danladi Umar were based on mere suspicions.
“In view of the foregoing, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation requests for your prompt briefing as to the existence of new facts which are contrary to the position in your attached investigation report, sufficient evidence or other developments upon which the prosecution of Danladi can be successfully based. “Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response within 48 hours from the receipt of same is required in the circumstances.”
In the same vein, in a separate letter, Keyamo was also requested by the AGF to confirm who authorized him to file the corruption charge against Umar. He was also given till today to furnish the Office of the AGF in writing detail of who engaged or issued him with authority to file the corruption charges.
The letter to Keyamo, with reference No DPP/ ADV:369/15, dated February 16, 2018, which was also signed by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, reads in part: “The attention of the AGF was drawn to news report that you have filed charges of corruption against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, before the FCT High Court.
“The AGF hereby requests that you kindly furnish this office with the details of the instruction or authorization upon which you instituted the case under reference. “Kindly accord this letter top priority while your prompt response, on or before Tuesday, February 20, 2018, is solicited in this regard.”
The anti-graft agency had, through Keyamo, filed a two-count corruption charge marked CR/109/18 against Umar before an Abuja High Court. In the charge, Umar was accused of demanding N10 million from one Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo while presiding over his case with Charge No. CCT/ABJ/03/13, sometime in 2012, at Abuja, in exchange for a favour afterwards in relation to the pending charge No. CCT/ ABJ/03/12. Umar was also alleged to have received another N1.8 million from the said Owolabi through his Personal Assistant by name Alhaji Gambo Abdullahi.
The matter had, however, been assigned to the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, and arraignment scheduled for March 15. The fresh charge against Umar came at a time when the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division returned the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to the tribunal to defend himself in three counts out of the 18 counts bothering on false assets declaration slammed on him by the Federal Government.
At the initial trial, the tribunal had discharged and acquitted Saraki from the 18 counts on ground that no prima facie case was established against him, and at the same time, the prosecution failed to link Saraki with the said charge.
Not satisfied with the judgement of the tribunal, the Federal Government, through its counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had approached the appellate court. In its ruling, the threemember panel, led by Justice Tinuade Wilson, reversed the acquittal and held that Saraki should go back to the tribunal to open defense in three out of the 18 counts.
While the trial of Saraki was to commence on February 6, the EFCC, on February 2, slammed a corruption charge on the CCT Chairman. This was, however, the charge which the EFCC had, through a letter, cleared Umar when Saraki’s trial started in 2016.
19 more oil blocs to expire in 2019
Nineteen more oil blocs in Nigeria face expiration in 2019, investigation by New Telegraph has revealed. Already, 28 blocs had expired as at last quarter of 2016. But a document of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), sighted by this newspaper, showed that this would raise the number of expired oil blocs in the country to 47 by next year.
Nigeria, the document showed, had 392 blocs out of which 208 blocs are open. “Seventy-five of the blocs are Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPLs) while 109 of the blocs are Oil Mining Lease (OMLs),” the docu-ment stated.
A former Deputy Director of DPR, Sunday Adebayo Babalola, who confirmed the figure to this newspaper, declared that 28 oil blocs had already expired as at 2016, when he left the agency.
“Twenty-four of these blocs are Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPLs) while the remaining four expired blocs are Oil Mining Leases (OMLs). “While 47 OMLs will ex-pire in less than five years, 27 OPLs will also be due for renewal in less than five years,” he said.
He added that between “five and 10 years, 15 OMLs would have also expired while 43 of the OMLs would also expire after ten years.” New Telegraph had earlier reported exclusively that over N2.2 billion ($6 million) sourced from Nigeria Data Repository (NDR) funds to finance the appraisal of oil blocs for the 2015 bid round was still trapped.
The investment made by the DPR was expected to have been recouped through the bid round, which has been foot-dragging for over two years. “Bidders are statutorily required to pay nonrefundable application fee of $10,000 per bloc; bid processing fee of $10,000 per bloc; and data prying fee of $25,000 per bloc,” the document stated.
Others, according to the document, are “3D visualization fee of $5,000 per bloc; data lease of $50,000 per bloc for seismic data per bloc; and $50,000 per bloc for evaluation.” About 17 Niger Delta onshore OMLs belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), further checks showed, will expire in the next two years.
Shell, which divested some of its assets in the past, has kept mute on whether they will renew the oil blocs at expiration by 2019 or relinquish interest. An oil-mining lease is usually granted only to the holder of an oil-prospecting licence (OPL), upon meeting set regulations, and the term of the licence shall not exceed 20 years, and may be renewed in accordance with the Petroleum Act.
For example, OPL 204 located onshore Niger Delta, belonging to Africoil and Marketing, whose licence had been issued since 1993, expired since 2010 and there is no information regarding its renewal. Also, Alfred James Nigeria Limited’s OPL 302, which was awarded in 1991, had expired since 2001.
Efforts to get current update on the bloc proved abortive. Continental Oil and Gas’ OPL 2007 expired since last October, while Summit Oil International OPL 206 expired in 2014. Amalgamated Oil Company Limited’s OPL 425, which was given licence since 1992, was expected to expire by May 23 last year.
The license of OPL 305 and 306, which belong to Crownwell Petroleum Limited, expired in June last year. Also, KNOC’s deep offshore OPLC 321 and 323 had already expired since March 9, 2016. Meanwhile, Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives (NEITI) has said that the nation’s oil licensing processes stink of corruption. In its latest report, the group noted that past upstream licensing processes in Nigeria had fallen well short of best practices and failed to secure maximum value for the country’s assets. T his, it said, led to public controversy, including lawsuits, indictments, sacking, cancelled or revoked awards, and legislative probes.
“Many deals fell through, and barely half of the fields auctioned between 2000 and 2007 have seen serious drilling. The stated goal of increasing indigenous participation was not well served. Most of the marginal fields awarded during the 2000s have not produced,” the initiative said.
NEITI said that past licensing rounds in Nigeria were not tied to any comprehensive asset development strategy or broader economic development plans. Nigeria, it said, needed to develop a strategy for managing its natural resource base for current and future generations, and tie each licensing round to that strategy.
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