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U.S. court rules in NNPC’s favour in $2.7b suit

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The United States Southern District Court of New York has delivered a significant judgment in favour of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) against ESSO Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited and Shell Nigerian Exploration and Production Company Limited (collectively, ESSO).

The court hearing was held on February 1, this year in the protracted litigation arising from the disputes between NNPC and ESSO regarding the implementation of the Production Sharing Contract dated May 21, 1993 covering OPL 209/OML 133. ESSO referred its claims to arbitration in Nigeria and obtained an Arbitral Award of $1.799 billion on October 24, 2011, with yearly interest running at LIBOR plus four per cent.

NNPC promptly challenged the Award at the Federal High Court, Abuja, which in May 2012, ordered the set aside of the Arbitral Award.  Notwithstanding the decision of the Nigerian Court, ESSO applied to the United States District Court, Southern District of New York for the recognition and enforcement of the Arbitral Award.

NNPC challenged ESSO’s application on ground that there was no award, which the U.S court could enforce as a competent court in Nigeria had since set aside the award.

NNPC also contended that there was no legal basis for the U.S court to exercise jurisdiction over it as it had no presence in the United States, owned no property and does not conduct its businesses therein.

ESSO contended that NNPC is the alter ego of the Federal Government of Nigeria, owned assets in the U.S including bank accounts and also conducts businesses in the U.S.

Esso obtained the leave of Court to conduct Jurisdictional Discovery to ascertain if the U.S court can assert personal jurisdiction over NNPC.

At the close of the Discovery Procedure, the Court ordered NNPC and ESSO to appear for oral hearing, which was held before Honourable Judge W. H. Pauley on February 1, 2019, for parties to canvass their respective positions.

On September 4, this year, the US Court delivered its Judgment by which it upheld the Corporation’s Application to Dismiss ESSO’s Enforcement Application on ground that a competent Nigerian Court had set aside the underlying Award and directed the Clerk of the Court to terminate and discontinue all motions and processes filed by ESSO in this matter.

By this development, NNPC has successfully secured the dismissal of ESSO’s application to secure recognition and enforcement of its Arbitral Award valued in excess of $2,699,405,616 plus interest.

The effect is that ESSO, who had sought the Order of the US Court to enforce the said Award, has lost the right. While ESSO is at liberty to appeal this decision, NNPC is optimistic that its case on appeal is very strong.

This is a significant decision in the history of this case as the US Court has not only discharged NNPC from any indebtedness to ESSO but also set the stage for NNPC’s pursuit of the challenge of three other outstanding Enforcement Applications filed in the US Court by other PSC Contractors.

Also, this decision of the US Court would lend weight to the effort of NNPC and the PSC Contractors to explore amicable resolution of the underlying PSC disputes.

NNPC was represented by the US law firm of Messrs. Chaffetz Lindsey LLP, and Nigerian law firm of Messrs. Streamsowers & Kohn

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OPAN disassociates self from online group called ‘OPMAN’

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The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) wishes to disassociate itself from the group known as Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, which cleverly adopts the acronym ‘OPMAN’.

This statement serves as a notice to individuals or organizations having dealings with this group, ‘OPMAN’ as our lawyers engage the Corporate Affairs Commission to address this development, OPAN said in a statement adding that it has no affiliation whatsoever with the group.

OPAN President, Austyn Ogannah, said: “Our attention has been drawn to the existence of a group which adopted a name similar to ours and goes by an acronym that is closely identical to ours.

“For the record OPAN has no affiliation with this group or its promoter(s).

“The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN), registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on 14th of November 2011, is the umbrella body for organisations and persons in the online/digital media space with a mandate to self regulate practitioners and promote responsible use of the new media in Nigeria.”

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NITDA sets up team to investigate, protect Nigerians from data breach

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), today inaugurated the NITDA Data Breach Investigation Team at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarters, Abuja. The effort was aimed at safeguarding the rights, privacy and data of citizens in the country.

The Director General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi CCIE, while inaugurating the Team said thay, “ever since the Agency issued the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) on 25th January, 2019, there has been an unprecedented interest in the regulation as witnessed by the various engagements and inquiries about it”.

He further stated the objectives of the National Data Protection Regulations includes: Safeguarding the rights of citizens on data privacy; Fostering safe conduct in transactions involving the exchange of Personal Data; Enabling Nigerian businesses to be globally compliant & competitive to create jobs for eligible Nigerians.

Inuwa said that, “NITDA, as the IT sector regulator has a duty to ensure that the objectives of the regulations are being realised”. The highlight of the event was the inauguration of a 15-man committee that will investigate and checkmate any breach of the National Data Protection Regulations (NDPR).

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Reps ask CBN to suspend cashless policy

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The house of representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to halt the controversial cashless policy it recently re-introduced.

At plenary session on Thursday, the lower legislative chamber said the policy leads to significant decrease in credit extension by Nigerian money deposit banks.

The also said it has negative impacts on small and medium enterprises “which are clearly the engine room for growth of the economy.”

In a circular released on Tuesday, the CBN had directed all deposit money banks in the country to charge 3% processing fees for withdrawals and 2% for deposits of amounts above N500,000 for individual accounts.

Corporate account holders will be charged 5% processing fees for withdrawals and 3% for deposits of amounts above N3 million.

The directive was, however, criticised by some Nigerians for various reasons.

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