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Market Digest Nigeria

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Nigerian Newspaper Headlines (4th October, 2019)

P&ID

The Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) has said Nigeria’s fresh appeal to the court will not prevent the commencement of seizing the country’s assets. They said federal government must meet up the deadline of the payment of $200m security deposit and £250,000 cost awarded by a London court on September 26.

Also the Nigerian Customs Service has begun a major clampdown on car dealers in the country, this is in order to search for smuggled cars.

Major Nigerian Newspapers have more on these stories:

P&ID

Punch Newspaper: Nigeria’s fresh appeal won’t stop assets’ seizure – P&ID

The Process and Industrial Development Limited has said Nigeria’s fresh appeal moves will not stop it from commencing the seizure of the country’s assets. It said the Federal Government must  meet the deadlines for the payment of $200m security deposit and £250,000 cost awarded by a London court on September 26.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had said on Wednesday that the Federal Government had directed its lawyers to seek the leave of the court to appeal against last week’s ruling of Justice Christopher Butcher of the Commercial Court in London imposing the payments as conditions for granting a stay of execution of a $9.6bn award in favour of P&ID. The court’s ruling ordered Nigeria to pay $200m security fund into the court’s account within 60 days as the condition for granting the nation’s request to stay execution in the $9.6bn award in favour of the P&ID, and £250,000 cost to the P&ID.

But responding to The PUNCH’s request for its reaction to the fresh development, P&ID, through a London-based public relations firm, iNHouse Communications, which it engaged in the aftermath of the controversial $9.6bn judgment, said it was confident Nigeria’s fresh appeal would not succeed. A statement attributed to a P&ID’s spokesperson in the iNHouse’s reply, read, “The English Court ordered Nigeria to pay US $200 million as security, plus GBP 250,000 to P&ID for its legal costs, as a condition for any stay of execution while Nigeria appeals the August judgment. “The English Court rejected Nigeria’s application for permission to appeal the payment requirement. We are confident that Nigeria will fare no better with the Court of Appeal. If Nigeria refuses to pay, P&ID will be allowed to start seizing its assets.”

Nigeria’s Information minister had said on Wednesday that the Federal Government retained international legal firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, for the case. Mohammed argued that contrary to claims by the P&ID and “its cohorts”, the government delegation’s trip to London (for the September 26 proceedings) was a successful one.

Apart from the $200m, the minister had said the government would be able to seek refund of the £250,000 it was asked to pay to P&ID if the appeal succeeded. Describing the delegation’s mission as a huge success, the minister had said the firm had every reason to be worried that the $9.6bn arbitration awarded to it had a good chance of being overturned. He said, “The Federal Government has a good chance of being successful in its impending appeal, otherwise the Commercial Court would not have allowed the appeal. “Please note that Nigeria will be able to demand a refund of the 250,000 GBP payment to P&ID where the government wins on the appeal. This fact is being hidden by those who have been spinning the London judgment in their own favour. “On the $200m payment as a condition for the granting of the stay of execution, Nigeria has instructed its lawyers to seek the leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal against that payment.

Justice Butcher of the London Commercial Court had ruled on August 16, 2019 that P&ID had the right to seize $9.6bn in Nigeria’s assets. The court’s ruling bordered on a 2010 contract Nigeria signed with P&ID for the company to build a state-of-the-art gas processing plant to refine natural gas (“wet gas”) into “lean gas” that Nigeria would receive free of charge to power its national electric grid.

The agreement suffered a setback and the P&ID won a $6.6bn arbitration award which in addition to interests rose to $9.6bn. The London court in August this year affirmed Nigeria’s liability to pay the sum of $9.6bn to P&ID. Nigeria returned to the court on September 26 to stop P&ID from enforcing the judgment. The Federal Government got a leave to appeal and a conditional stay of execution while pursuing its appeal against the judgment.

P&ID

Guardian Newspaper: Confusion over customs’ clampdown on auto dealers

The nation’s automobile industry is currently in the grip of confusion as the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) begins a major clampdown on car dealers in search of smuggled vehicles. The NCS has begun the clampdown on car marts across the country, particularly in Lagos, Katsina, Kaduna and Sokoto states.

Some of the dealers, who spoke with The Guardian were worried that their businesses had been halted for some days, without any hope in sight, claiming that the customs was not ready to listen to them as they were only advised to wait for further directive from the headquarters.

They are alarmed that the nation’s $8 billion automobile industry is being seriously threatened by the action of the NCS. They are afraid of possible rise in the prices of automobiles in the domestic market. The Guardian’s investigations revealed that many car dealers around Ikeja, Obanikoro, Surulere, Iyana Ipaja, Mile Two, and Igando, all in Lagos; and Sango, Ota, and Ibafo in Ogun State, among others, have moved their vehicles away from their marts in fear of possible raid by the customs. A few courageous dealers are taking advantage of the situation to hike prices as competition shrinks.

The Spokesman of the NCS, Joseph Attah, a deputy comptroller, told The Guardian that the move against smuggled vehicles was a nationwide action. He said the agency had the right to shut the premises of anyone found to be dealing in smuggled goods, as stipulated in the law guiding its operations. “The customs is performing its official duty, and that is the action we are taking across the country now. The management will review the situation and take appropriate action before weekend, and I will duly communicate that. When we sort the vehicles, we will release the ones that have duty,” Attah said.

The Federal Government had banned the importation of vehicles through land borders and slammed a 70 per cent duty on those imported through the seaports. Smuggling, grey import of second-hand vehicles, and lack of reliable data make the exact size of Nigeria’s vehicle market and fleet difficult to determine, even as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had earlier estimated that Nigerians spent about $8 billion yearly on the importation of vehicles. “About $8 billion goes to overseas for the importation of vehicles while Nigerians are suffering. Also, most of the used vehicles imported are unsafe and not good for the citizens,” he said.The Export.gov, in a statistical report released in August 2019, estimated the total market size of Nigeria’s automobile industry at $1.32 billion in 2019.

According to the report, the market size grew from $686.7 million in 2016, to 867.7 million in 2018, and further to $1 billion in 2018, and $1.32 billion in 2019. While local production is valued at $200 million in 2019, total import is estimated at $1.1 billion. The country’s current vehicle size is estimated to be 11.7 million, but due to insufficient domestic production, Nigeria is highly dependent on imports to meet local demand.Anxiety now grips automobile dealers across the country not only due to the clampdown by customs officers, but the planned review of the nation’s auto policy by the Federal Government as well as the overhaul of the sector to boost revenue generation.

In Sokoto, vehicle dealers such as KB Lamah Motors, Royalarms International Motors Limited, 2020 Motors‎, MD Parking Space ‎, and Urgent Motors Nigeria Limited, already have their marts sealed off. In Lagos, Globe Motors and Ineh Mic, Stallion Motors, Affordable Cars Limited, Carlink Limited, InehmicAutos, Globe Motors, COSCHARIS and Skymit Motors, Arrowhead Motors, Wonder Wheels Motors and Auto Point Motors were affected, while more than 20 car marts have been shut down in Katsina and other places. The seal, sighted by The Guardian, reads: “The official seal is by Nigeria Customs Service, Headquarters Strike Force. Unauthorised removal of this seal attracts a fine of N100 million or 10 years imprisonment or both.”Other vehicle dealers across the country expressed the fear that they might be affected too.

The Managing Director, Fumba Resources Limited, Olubunmi Ajayi, who said his company did not deal in smuggled vehicles, wondered why the customs would seal off his premises for doing a legitimate business.“We closed on Monday, only for us to come back and found that customs officials have sealed off the car garages. They came about two months ago and asked us to bring the clearing papers, which we made available. Now, they did not give any notice. They just came over the night like a thief and sealed off the car marts. This is cruel, barbaric and satanic. “We don’t have smuggled vehicles at all. They were all cleared through the ports of Lagos. There are many ways they can discover a smuggled vehicle. You can come to the garage with your machine, input the chassis number of the vehicles, then you will know instantly if there is a smuggled vehicle there or not.

“Besides, they ought to have given people an advance notice and given them a window to go and pay up, after which they can now seal off the marts. The place has been shut down now. We don’t know whom to talk to. We have been to FOU in Ikeja, they said it was a continuous exercise and they didn’t know when it would be opened. This is disheartening. In that place, the local government people will come and disturb you, environmental officers will come, police, and even touts will come and disturb you for doing a legitimate business. Why are we doing this to ourselves in this country?”

The President of the United Berger Motor Dealers Association, in Lagos, Metche Nadiekwe, said it would be unfair for the customs to seal the businesses of car dealers who operated legitimately and paid duties on imported vehicles. “We pay duties here and I think it will sound abnormal for the customs to come and seal off our marts. We don’t allow anyone here to deal in smuggled vehicles and we have no reason to fear.”

A former chairman of the Task Force on the Reform of Nigeria Customs Service (RPTFCR), Lucky Amiwero, told The Guardian yesterday that the NCS’ action was legal and backed by law, “but they have to exercise some decorum in enforcing it, so as not to jeopadise businesses in the economy.” “ The customs action falls within the law, but procedurally the action is not good because they are trying to kill businesses. When a consignment has come into national consumption, you don’t treat it as a border consignment. Once it has passed through the border, what you will do is to use intelligent network and not to seal off the place. There must be some decorum in their action, because it would discourage foreigners from coming into the country to do business,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NCS has disclosed that in the last few days, it arrested 146 illegal migrants and seized 18,759 bags of foreign rice along the borders.The customs, which said some of the illegal migrants were coming into the country to engage in criminal activities such as armed banditry and kidnapping, lamented that one of them was caught with a pistol. Attah disclosed these during a sensitization programme for rice farmers and other stakeholders in Kaduna yesterday. The customs spokesman maintained that the partial border closure was aimed at ensuring that dangerous items don’t find their way into the country, and not an action taken to create hardship for Nigerians.

P&ID

Sun Newspaper: Gunmen storm Kaduna school, abduct 6 female students, 2 teachers

Six students of a private secondary school and two of their teachers in Kakau Daji village in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State were yesterday kidnapped by gunmen. The village is located behind the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemicals Company (KRPC) in the state capital.

Confirming the incident, spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Yakubu Sabo, said the gunmen invaded the school through a porous fence in the early hours of yesterday, went straight to the female hostel and abducted six students. The spokesman also disclosed that two teachers residing inside the school were also kidnapped by the bandits and their whereabouts yet unknown.

Sabo explained that a combined team of police mobile force and anti kidnapping squad of the command have launched a manhunt for the kidnappers with a view to rescuing the victims alive and apprehending the culprits. He also advised proprietors of private schools to beef up their premises with adequate security in order not to expose their students to any form of attack.

One of the parents whose daughter was abducted said that he received a call from the abductors yesterday morning. He said: “They told my daughter to give them a number to call and that was when they called me, but I couldn’t understand if they were asking for ransom because they spoke in a language I cowuld barely under. I spoke with my daughter and then they collected the phone from her and terminated the call.”

Over the months, there have been a series of kidnap cases in the state, mostly on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway. Sabo said: “The Command received an information through DPO Toll Gate that in the early hours of today 03/10/2019 at about 0310hrs, some armed men gained entry into the Engravers College, a boarding secondary school in a remote area near Kakau Daji village in Chikun LGA and took away two staff of the college and six female students to unknown destination. “On receipt of that information, the Command immediately mobilised combined teams of anti-kidnapping, SARS, and conventional police to the area for possible rescue of the victims and arresting the perpetrators of the unfortunate incident.

“IGP’s Intelligent Respond team (IRT) has been contacted for technical support. The Command, therefore, is using this opportunity to reiterate its call on all the private school proprietors within the state to liaise with their nearest police formation and promptly report incidents or suspicious persons around schools to forestall future occurrence of ugly incidents. On this note, the Commissioner of Police Kaduna State Command, Ali Aji Janga, is assuring the general public that the Command is doing everything possible to secure the release of all the victims unhurt. “He equally called on the good people of the state not to relent in giving the police prompt and useful information at all times.”

The Kaduna State Government has also confirmed the abductions, saying efforts were ongoing to free the victims. In a statement, Samuel Aruwan, the state Commissioner, Internal Security and Home Affairs, said the Kaduna State government “condemns this as a despicable action, a most unfortunate intrusion of crime into the life of young students and the staff teaching them. “Governor Nasir El-Rufai has dispatched a government delegation to sympathise with the school community and assure them that security agencies are working to rescue the abducted persons.” Aruwan said he led the state government’s delegation that included officials of other security agencies.

The school’s bursar, Elvis Allah-Yaro, had earlier disclosed that Aruwan led a state government team to visit the school after yesterday’s kidnap. Aruwan said he “spoke to parents and staff of the school and assured them that every effort will be exerted to free the abductees and punish this brazen crime. “The school management and the parents of the students will be given updates as appropriate.”

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