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Nigeria Loses $1.3bn Graft Appeal Against Eni, Shell

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Nigeria's budget deficit

By Adedapo Adesanya

An Appeal Court in Milan, Italy, has dropped criminal proceedings in a Nigeria corruption case to the tune of $1.3 billion, finalising the acquittal of multi-national oil companies, Eni and Shell.

Reuters reported on Thursday that the court acknowledged the dropping of the proceedings on Tuesday, adding that it also acquit managers of the oil majors including Eni’s chief executive officer, Mr Claudio Descalzi.

According to the news agency, General prosecutor Celestina Gravina, in an unprecedented move in a Milan court, had filed a waiver request at the start of the appeal trial earlier on Tuesday, saying the case had no grounds.

The Tribunal Prosecutor’s Office, which is a separate body, and the Nigerian government had previously sought to appeal a March 2021 ruling acquitting the two companies and defendants.

Reuters reports that the appeal will now only continue for the civil proceedings, as Nigeria has sued for compensation.

In November 2021, the Attorney General’s Office decided not to refer to the Supreme Court an appeal for the acquittal of two consultants in a separate case related to the Nigeria graft trial.

The main case revolved around a deal in which Eni and Shell acquired the OPL 245 offshore oilfield in 2011 to settle a long-standing dispute over ownership.

Prosecutors alleged that just under $1.1 billion of the total amount was siphoned off to politicians and middlemen.

The First Instance Court in Milan said in March 2021 there was no case to answer and acquitted the companies and all other defendants.

“We have always maintained that the 2011 settlement was legal,” a Shell spokesperson said at the time, while Eni confirmed its total extraneousness to the contested facts.

In June 2021, two prosecutors in the case were placed under official investigation by magistrates for allegedly not filing documents that would have supported Eni’s position.

Italy’s justice ministry ordered an inquiry into the conduct of the pair.

On Eni and Shell’s part, there were clamours that there were to be fined alongside the call for prosecution of a number of past and present managers from both companies, including Mr Descalzi.

The defendants all denied any wrongdoing and said the purchase price for OPL 245 was paid into a Nigerian government account and subsequent transfers were beyond their control.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Nigeria Inaugurates Mini Grids Programme to Expand Clean Energy Access

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Mini Grids Programme

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has inaugurated the Africa Mini Grids Programme (AMP) to support access to clean energy in Nigeria.

Mr Ayang Ogbe, the Director of Promotions at REA, said this in a statement in Abuja, noting that the four-year project was being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria.

He said that the programme aims to increase the financial viability and promote scaled-up commercial investment in renewable energy mini-grids, focusing on cost-reduction levers and innovative business models.

According to him, the renewable energy mini-grids are with a focus on cost-reduction levers and innovative business models.

“The programme is active in 21 African countries, and the Nigeria national project implemented by the REA is the first to commence implementation following the official inauguration at an inception workshop.

“The workshop was hosted in collaboration with representatives from the UNDP, GEF, Federal Ministries of Power, Environment and Agriculture as well as other key stakeholders in the rural development space,” he said.

Mr Ogbe said that the Africa mini-grids programme in Nigeria was designed as an enabler project of the REA’s Energising Agriculture Programme (EAP).

He said that EAP aims to advance one of REA’s strategic priorities of focusing on the unserved and underserved to increase economic opportunities.

”Through agriculture and productive sectors in rural communities across the country, this objective is in line with the mandate of the REA to catalyse economic growth and improve the quality of life for rural Nigerians.

Speaking on the project, Mr Mohamed Yahya, the UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria, said that the UNDP was delighted with the inauguration of the Africa mini-grids programme in Nigeria with the REA as the project’s implementing partner.

He said, “access to reliable, sustainable, affordable energy is a catalyst to socio-economic development, and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

“By scaling up solutions such as renewable energy mini-grids, we will be able to close the energy access gap and unlock opportunities for people in Nigeria and across the region,” he said.

On his part, Mr Jonah Stanley,  GEF Operational Focal Point at the Federal Ministry of Environment, emphasised the significance of the programme, which he sees as central to issues.

“Such as security, climate change, food production and strengthening economies while protecting ecosystems.”

The statement quoted the Managing Director of the REA, Mr  Salihijo Ahmad, “commending the collaborative spirit of the agency’s partners and stakeholders that enabled the activation of the programme.”

Mr Ahmad said that the Africa mini-grids programme would serve as another catalyst for improved access to sustainable energy and equitable and inclusive impact on livelihoods by unlocking agricultural value addition opportunities from electrification.

He said, “this sectoral approach is in line with the agency’s focus on programmes to advance the electrification targets and broader social and economic development objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

The statement also quoted Mr Sanusi Ohiare, the Executive Director, Rural Electrification Fund (REF) at the REA as saying, “there is the need to enhance the viability of mini-grids and the impact of electrification”.

“To this end, the programme will deploy pilot mini-grids to achieve the electrification of rural communities and agricultural value chain.”

Mr Ohiare said that the project would also establish the most appropriate solutions and business models while amplifying the knowledge gained to catalyse private investment.”

The AMP in Nigeria will contribute to SDG 7, which is  (Affordable and Clean Energy), Goal 13 (Climate Action) and  Goal 5 (Gender Equality), with an estimate of 70,063 direct project beneficiaries, out of which 34,559 are women.

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IBEDC Assures Customers Prompt Response to Complaints

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IBEDC directors suspended NERC

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Plc has expressed commitment to contributing its best to national development through excellent service delivery, improved power supply, prompt response to customers’ complaints and bridging the metering gap across our franchise.

The interim managing director of the energy firm, Mr Kingsley Achife, gave this assurance in a message to congratulate Nigerians on the 62nd anniversary of being an independent nation.

To celebrate the day, October 1, the federal government declared Monday, October 3, as a public holiday. Because of its desire to make the work-free day enjoyable, he assured excellent service delivery.

“We are aware that our customers are looking forward to enjoying power supply during the holiday, so our technical crew are available to rectify any faults that may arise during this period, and our customer care line 0700123999 will remain active to respond to complaints and reports promptly,” Mr Achife was quoted as saying in a statement issued by IBEDC.

He implored customers to take advantage of the company’s hassle-free payment channels such as Quick teller, Payarena, Jumia, Watu, Buypower and ATM to pay their bills and vend.

“Our payment centres are also open during the holiday from 9 am-3 pm to attend to customers,” he further said in the statement, noting that IBEDC has put stringent measures in place to ensure good service delivery.

As for the Independence Day celebration, Mr Achife urged Nigerians to ensure that the founding fathers’ sacrifices and ideologies remain the watchwords for a united and peaceful country.

He also appealed to them to continue striving for the country’s development, saying electricity is one of the catalysts that drive the growth and development of any economy.

While wishing the customers of IBEDC a happy Independence Day, the MD advised motorists to avoid driving under the influence of alcohol and observe traffic rules to prevent collisions with electric poles and other accidents during the independence celebration.

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Buhari Urges Leaders to Tackle Slow AfCFTA Integration

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China Africa AfCFTA

By Adedapo Adesanya

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would succeed if African governments demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration, political cooperation, and tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

He made this disclosure while addressing the second African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) Conference on Friday in Abuja, organised by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, the President decried the low-level trade among African countries.

He said, “As leaders, we must all be concerned that we are not trading enough amongst ourselves. It is a bitter reality that Intra-regional trade still accounts for a very tiny fraction of total trade in Africa.

”We have to understand that if this new drive towards a continental free trade area is to succeed, we must demonstrate a higher level of commitment to tackling the slow pace of physical integration due to geographic and political fragmentations, the pace of political cooperation, and difficult tariff and non-tariff barriers that inhibit business integration.

”I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation.

”Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater for the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people,” the President said, urging the Conference to use the network and support provided by pan-African institutions as a platform for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and skills.

The conference, he said, should also seek and advance innovative solutions to support our common quest for the expansion of intra-Africa trade opportunities for our people.

He commended the conference organisers for demonstrating innovative thinking by taking the AfCFTA to the grassroots, lauding the President of Afreximbank, Mr Benedict Oramah, and his team for committing $250 million as seed capital towards the establishment of the AFSNET.

He acknowledged that the initiative spearheaded by Afreximbank was aimed at firmly establishing and deepening the intra-continental trade investment development frontier for Africa, facilitating the reduction in the continent’s dependence on exports of primary commodities as well as minimizing the risks experienced due to strong reliance on global value chains.

“This opportunity, if properly harnessed, is a significant step for Africa to begin carving its niche in the global value chain, from the constituent units up.

“This will undoubtedly complement broader programmes such as the AfCFTA which remains one of the most strategic pan-African agenda to deliver inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.

The President also recognised the support of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA and the role of its Secretary General, Mr Wamkele Mene, in organizing the conference in Abuja.

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