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Chinese Businessman Wins Right to Confiscate Two Nigerian Govt Property in UK



Two Nigerian properties located in the United Kingdom are on the verge of being taken over by a Chinese investor following an order granting the investor the right to enforce a $70 million investment treaty award against Nigeria.

The investor – Zhongshan Fucheng Industrial Investment – was granted final charging orders over two UK residential properties owned by the Nigerian government after the company also attached a £20 million debt relating to the high-profile P&ID case.

Reports said the Chinese firm secured the order on June 14 when Master Sullivan in the Commercial Court in London granted the orders in respect of two Liverpool properties estimated to be worth a combined £1.7 million.

According to the judge, the order was premised on the fact that the properties have been converted to commercial use outside Nigeria’s diplomatic or consular activities in the UK, stressing that enforcement of the order should prevail.

The case was a gritty legal battle between Zhongshan, represented before the court by Withers and barristers at 3VB, while Nigeria was represented by Squire Patton Boggs and a barrister at Atkin Chambers.

Reports said the underlying arbitration was in relation to a joint venture with Nigeria’s Ogun State to establish a free trade zone near Lagos in 2013. A Zhongshan subsidiary held a 60% stake in the project but Ogun terminated its participation three years later.

In 2021, a London-seated UNCITRAL tribunal chaired by Lord Neuberger including Matthew Gearing KC and Rotimi Oguneso (SAN) said Nigeria was guilty of expropriation and other breaches of the China-Nigeria bilateral investment treaty and ordered the country to to pay US$55.6 million plus interest and costs.

Nigeria in the same year put a challenge against the award in the Commercial Court on jurisdictional grounds. Nigeria’s position was that the arbitration clause in the BIT was invalid. But in later development, Nigeria withdrew the challenge before a hearing on Zhongshan’s application for security and security for costs was about to take place.

Mrs. Justice Cockerill in the same court granted Zhongshan an ex parte enforcement order in December 2021, but Nigeria did not file against this order within the 74-day deadline allowed by the law.
In July 2023, the Court of Appeal in London stopped Nigeria from bringing a late challenge to the enforcement order, stressing Cockerill’s provisional determination that state immunity did not apply had become final.

The investor reportedly got interim charging orders in June and August last year over the two properties in Liverpool, which are owned by the Nigerian government.
Nigeria’s efforts to dismiss these charging orders failed as Master Sullivan in her judgment, held that the properties are leased to residential tenants and that no “consular activities are actually taking place on the premises”.

She also dismissed Nigeria’s arguments that it had not been properly served with the interim charging order applications under the State Immunity Act and that Zhongshan had failed to give full and frank disclosure when seeking them.

Master Sullivan also dismissed Nigeria’s objection about parties bringing multiple enforcement action, saying that parties are “entitled to bring as many types of enforcement action as they see fit to recover their debt.” She noted that Nigeria had yet to pay any of the award and that the value of the properties represented a “small proportion of it”.

Timi Balogun of Squire Patton Boggs, counsel to Nigeria, said: “We respectfully disagree with the Master’s decision, which we believe somewhat brushes over complex public international law issues, including with respect to state immunity and the right of a foreign state’s High Commission to own and manage portfolios of fixed assets in England and Wales. We believe that such issues need to be weighed very carefully, and we intend to appeal this decision so that these complex and important issues can be considered by the higher courts.”

Zhongshan applied to enforce the award in Washington, DC in 2022. Last year, the DC district court rejected Nigeria’s motion to dismiss the action on sovereign immunity grounds. The state argued the China-Nigeria BIT was “quintessentially sovereign” and therefore the award did not arise from a commercial relationship between the parties. The DC district proceeding is stayed pending Nigeria’s appeal of the sovereign immunity decision.

Zhongshan has also taken enforcement measures in various other jurisdictions, including in Quebec, where it seeks conservatory seizure of a private jet; and in Belgium, where Nigeria is challenging attachments of properties.

In the British Virgin Islands, Zhongshan has obtained an interim attachment over a £20 million liability owed Nigeria by BVI-registered company Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) under an English Commercial Court ruling. The Chinese company withdrew an earlier application to attach the same liability in England.

The Commercial Court ordered P&ID to pay Nigeria £20 million in costs in December last year after upholding the state’s challenge to an US$11 billion award in favour of the company. Mr Justice Robin Knowles found the award was procured through false evidence, corrupt payments and improper retention of leaked documents.

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Glo Celebrates Nigerian Workers on May Day




National Telecommunications Company, Globacom, has urged Nigerian workers to use the May Day celebration to reaffirm their commitment to the service of the nation.

In a statement issued in commemoration of the 2024 International Workers’ Day, Globacom enjoined workers to rededicate themselves to excellence so as to take Nigeria to a higher level.

“We salute Nigerian workers on this day and commend them for the hard work, commitment, resourcefulness and industry which are essential for the growth of the economy of any nation,” Globacom said, urging the work force not to rest on their oars.

While calling on workers to remain focused and steadfast in their work places, the company noted that the story of Nigeria cannot be complete without the huge contributions of workers, both in the public and private sectors.

The International Labour Day is celebrated every year on 1 May to commemorate the sacrifices of workers across the world.

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How Yahaya Bello Used Kogi’s $720k to Pay Children’s School Fees in Advance – EFCC Chairman




Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, has revealed that the now embattled former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, withdrew $720,000 from the State government’s account to pay his child’s school fee.

The EFCC boss disclosed this to journalists in Abuja.

The former governor was last week declared wanted by the commission for alleged N80.2 billion fraud.

EFCC operatives, during the period, stormed Bello’s residence in Abuja to arrest him, but were stopped by his security aides.

Two courts of coordinate jurisdiction also issued conflicting rulings on the matter. While the Kogi State High Court in Lokoja restrained the EFCC from arresting the former governor, the Federal High Court gave the commission the go-ahead to arrest Bello preparatory to his arraignment for alleged fraud.

Olukoyede said: “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

“In a poor State like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?

“I didn’t initiate the case; I inherited the case file. I called for the file, and I said there are issues here.

“On my own, I called him, which I am not supposed to do, just to honour him as an immediate past governor. ‘Sir, there are issues. I’ve seen this case file. Can you just come let us clarify these issues?

“He said, ‘Ha! Thank you, my brother. I know, but I can’t come. There’s one lady that has surrounded EFCC with over 100 people to come and embarrass me and intimidate me.

“I said if that is the issue, I’m going to pass you through my own gate, and you will come to my floor. We will accord you that respect. I will invite my operatives; they will interrogate and interview you in my own office. What could be more honourable than that to allay the fear?

“You know what he said: ‘Thank you, sir, but can’t they come to my village? “

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Nigeria Air Scam: EFCC Arrests Former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika




The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over an ongoing N8,069,176,864.00 money laundering probe.

The indicted former Minister of Aviation arrived at the Wuse office, Federal Capital Territory Command of the EFCC at about 1:00 pm on Tuesday, according to The Punch.

Following his arrival at the command, Sirika is meeting with EFCC investigators to answer questions on alleged fraudulent contracts awarded by him to a company known as Engirios Nigeria Limited, owned by his younger sibling, Abubakar Sirika.

The Punch reported that impeccable anti-graft sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, because they were not authorised to speak, confirmed the development.

“Yes, that was Hadi Sirika who was taken into our FCT custody. He is currently meeting with EFCC investigators over the alleged N8,069,176,864.00 aviation ministry contract fraud,” a source revealed.

Another source noted, “The N8,069,176,864.00 aviation ministry contract fraud was carried out in connivance with his younger brother, Abubakar Sirika, through the latter’s company.”

The anti-graft commission is reportedly investigating the activities of the Aviation Ministry for conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, and contract inflation.

Others are criminal breaches of trust and money laundering amounting to N8,069,176,864.00 during Sirika’s tenure in office.

The sum is said to be for four aviation contracts from the former minister to a company known as Engirios Nigeria Limited, owned by his younger sibling, Abubakar Sirika.

Apart from being listed as the company’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abubakar is said to be the sole signatory to the company’s two accounts, domiciled in Zenith and Union Banksy.

It was further revealed that the ex-minister’s younger brother, Abubakar Sirika, has been arrested and detained by the commission in connection with N3,212,258,930.18 paid to his company, Engirios Nigerian Limited’s, bank account by the former minister.

It was noted that there is no trace of work done on any of the contract items to date.

The source said Abubakar Sirika, who was arrested on Sunday, February 4, has since been assisting the commission in its probe of the Aviation Ministry’s financial expenditures during Mr Sirika’s tenure.

The EFCC investigator said, “We’re investigating an N8,069,176,864.00 money laundering case linked to former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.

“Hadi awarded contracts to his brother Abubakar, knowing that the latter is a civil servant, a deputy director on Level 16 in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, where he has been working since 2000 till date.

“The first of the contracts from the former minister to Engirios Nigeria Limited was on August 18, 2022, for the construction of the Terminal Building in Katsina Airport, at a cost of N1,345,586,500.00. The second was awarded on November 3, 2022, for the establishment of the Fire Truck Maintenance and Refurbishment Center in Katsina Airport, valued at N3, 811,497,685.00.

“The third contract was on February 3, 2023, for the procurement and installation of lifts, air conditioners, and a power generator’s house in Aviation House, Abuja, at the cost of N615,195,275.000, while the fourth was awarded on May 5, 2023, for the procurement of Magnus aircraft and a simulator for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, at the cost of N2, 296,897,404.00.

“Out of the total contract sum, the ex-minister paid out N3,212,258,930.18 to his younger brother’s Engirios Nigerian Limited, who, upon receipt of the payment, transferred it to different companies and individuals. There is no trace of work done on any of the contract items to date.

“Abubakar Sirika is currently in our custody at the Headquarters, and he is providing us with more useful information on the financial activities of the Aviation Ministry under the supervision of his older brother, Hadi Sirika.”

The Punch

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