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The London Court of International Arbitration has ordered two companies owned by the Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu, and his deputy, Mofe Boyo, to pay $680 million (N244.8 billion) to Ansbury Investments, which is owned by Gabriele Volpi.

In a July 6 ruling, the LCIA held that Ocean and Oil Development Partners, British Virgin Islands, which owns 55.96 per cent of Oando Plc through a holding company, Ocean and Oil Development Partners Nigeria Limited, is owing Ansbury Investments Incorporated $600 million (N216 billion).

Ansbury Investment’s counsel, Andrea Moja, confirmed the LCIA award in a statement on Sunday.

Moja said the Arbitration Court also held that Whitmore Asset Management Limited, whose ultimate beneficial owners are Tinubu and Boyo, was also owing Ansbury Investment $80 million (N28.8 billion).

The cumulative debt owed by the Oando chiefs to Ansbury Investment totals $680 million.

Documents obtained from the LCIA, which is reputed to be one of the world’s leading international institutions for commercial dispute resolution, identified the family of Volpi, a Nigerian-Italian, as the ultimate beneficial owner of Ansbury.

The London Arbitration Court ruled that the “Third Shareholders Agreement” between the parties, is legally binding on the parties as claimed by Ansbury Investment.

The documents indicated that in a few days, the court will pronounce on accrued interests on the debts.

It was learnt that the ruling was communicated to the parties on July 9.

The statement said: “The claim of Whitmore Asset Management Limited that the parties agreed to a binding Fourth Shareholders Agreement was rejected.

“The alleged agreement by which Whitmore Asset Management Limited was to hold 60 per cent Of Ocean and Oil Development Partners (BVI) Ltd is not binding on the parties.

“Ocean and Oil Development Partners (Bvi) Ltd owes a debt to Ansbury Investments Inc for an amount of US$ 600 million.

“Whitmore Asset Management Limited owes a debt to Ansbury Investments Inc for an amount of US$ 80 million.

“This Partial Award will be followed by a Final Award in which the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) will pronounce on interests on the amounts owed and legal expenses.

“Given the above, Ansbury Investments Inc will immediately submit an application to London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) in which it will be asked to charge Whitmore Asset Management Limited for all the due interests and legal expenses as well.”

When the disagreement broke in 2017, Ansbury had also petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission in May over allegation of financial mismanagement, huge indebtedness as well as falsifying its financial statement.

In addition, Ansbury had also informed SEC that Oando’s “current liabilities as at December 31, 2016, far exceeds the current assets by N263.7 billion, confirming serious financial imbalance from the previous financial year”.

However, Lawyers representing Tinubu and Boyo the Group Chief Executive and Deputy Group Chief Executive of Oando PLC and co-owners of Whitmore Asset Management Limited, said contrary to the claim by Ansbury Investment Counsel, Mr. Andrea Moja, the amount owed to Ansbury Investments Inc, owned by Mr. Gabriele Volpi, is $80m, which is owed by Whitmore Asset Management Limited, while the balance of $600m is owed by Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) BVI.

Ocean and Oil Development Partners (OODP) BVI Ltd is owned by all three parties: Wale Tinubu, Mofe Boyo and Gabriele Volpi, hence the judgment by the London Court of International Arbitration implies that Volpi as part owner of OODP BVI owes himself by virtue of his ownership in the company.

It was learnt that had indicated that payment terms for the personal debt were being ironed out by the parties while payment terms for the $600 million owed by OODP will be determined by the LCIA.

The dispute between Gabrielle Volpi and the principals of Oando has been ongoing for over a year.

It has caused concern for companies and individuals who look for investments to grow their business via individuals in the form of equity or debt.

Volpi, a significant shareholder in OODP invested in the company during Oando’s acquisition of ConocoPhillips Nigeria assets.

At the time, it would have seem like the investment of a lifetime, unfortunately, shortly after the price of oil crashed, many oil and gas companies folded up.

It was the resilience of its principals hat Oando is still alive today, industry sources said.

The assumption would be that against this backdrop Gabrielle Volpi would wait for OODP to start to reap the rewards of its investment however he has faced near financial ruin in his home country Italy and it seems is now by any means necessary trying to recoup his investments.

Since the upturn in commodity prices, Oando has recorded six consecutive quarters of profits.

The company kicked off 2018 on a positive note through continued restoration of value to its shareholders via profits in the first quarter of the year.

 

 

 

The Nation

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JUST IN: Orji Uzor Kalu Regains Freedom, Leaves Kuje Prison[PHOTO]

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Barely 24 hours after the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ordered his release, Senate Chief Whip, and former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has regained freedom after six months of incarceration.

He stepped out of Kuje Correctional Centre this evening after the completion of his release formalities.

The court had transmitted the judgment as well as Warrant of Release duly signed by Justice Liman to the authorities of Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja this morning to facilitate the senator’s freedom.

Justice Liman of the Federal High Court, Lagos had on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Kalu. He also set aside the trial, conviction, and sentence of the former governor to 12 years imprisonment on December 5, 2019, in accordance with the earlier ruling of the Supreme Court.

In his ruling, Justice Liman ordered Kalu’s immediate release from prison as well as set aside the earlier trial and order given by Justice MB Idris that Slok Nigeria Limited be wound up and its assets forfeited to Federal Government.

Kalu had gone to court asking for his release in line with the Supreme Court’s judgment last month nullifying his trial and conviction.

The Supreme Court had ruled that since Justice Idris was elevated to the Court of Appeal, he had no jurisdiction to have concluded Kalu’s trial.

The apex court therefore nullified the conviction and ordered a retrial.

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#JusticeForBarakat: 18-Year-Old Undergraduate ‘Gang-Raped’, Murdered In Ibadan

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An 18-year-old girl, identified as Bello Barakat, was reportedly gang-raped and murdered by unknown men in Ibadan, Oyo state capital.

The incident was said to have occurred on Tuesday in the Akinyele area of Ibadan, Oyo state.

It was gathered that her dad found her dead body around their home after her body was examined, they discovered that she was raped, then she got murdered.

Bello Barakat, aged 18, was a year one student of the Federal College of Animal Health and Production in Ibadan.

It was gathered that she has been buried according to Islamic rites.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Southwest, zone D has demanded justice for the deceased who was assaulted and murdered.

Her death has continued to attract outrage nationwide as Nigerians have taken to social media to express their displeasure over the rising cases of Rape in Nigeria with the hashtag #JusticeforBarakat.

Recall that Ms Omozuwa, a 100 level Microbiology student of the University of Benin, was assaulted inside a hall in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Ikpoba Hill, Benin City on May 13, where she went to study.

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COVID-19: If You’re 55 And Above, Avoid Mosques, Churches For Now —- FG

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The Federal Government on Tuesday gave an advisory to Nigerians saying “If you are 55 years old and above, avoid churches and mosques’.

Those with health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, HIV, among others, are also enjoined to stay at home to worship, the government added.

It noted that the advice was necessary because places of worship have been recognised as a major avenue of the potential spread of Coronavirus.

The government stated this through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control. It released the guidelines for states to follow in discussions with religious leaders before the reopening of churches and mosques for worshippers.

The government said the protocols made available would be the baseline which the states are not expected to go below while firming up an agreement with religious leaders.

Nigerians have been pressuring the government to reopen worship centres in spite of the spike in COVID-19 positive cases, leading to easing of restrictions on religious centres.

The PTF National Coordinator, Dr. Aliyu Sani, who announced the guidelines said religious centres should keep a record of attendees.

Dr. Sani said this would allow for contact tracing in the case of virus spread.

He urged worshippers experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19 to stay away from churches and mosques.

He said: “We are strongly advising vulnerable individuals such as those with underlying conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV, cancer and those above the age of 55 years to please stay at home and consider remote participation or non-contact attendance.

“When we look at the death rate for persons who have died from COVID-19 in Nigeria, the case fatality rate; more than half of those that died were above the age of 50.

“Secondly, the case fatality rate if you are above the age of 50, is 17 per cent. If you are above the age of 55, it is 18 per cent. It is almost a one in five chances of dying if you catch COVID-19 and you fall within that group.

“Worshippers should be reminded not to attend in person if experiencing common symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath or have had close contact with an infected person in the last 14 days.

“All worshippers noted to have a temperature or are symptomatic should be turned back and not allowed admission.

“Places of worship should ideally keep up to date record of their staff including contact details and if possible, a record of attendees of church services for instance or an even small mosque to enable contact tracing in the event that somebody comes up positive.

“Considering the dangers posed by the pandemic, we strongly recommend that religious visits to homes by religious clerics should be discouraged.”

The national coordinator said: “It is important to note that due to the nature of religious congregations, places of worship are particularly recognised to have a major potential for spreading COVID -19 infection among worshippers and this has been clearly demonstrated in several outbreaks globally linked to religious gatherings.

“Places of worship that are unable to comply with these measures should not be allowed to operate by state governments.

“Churches are to open from 5 am and close by 8 pm. Each service should be for a maximum of one hour with an interval of 20 minutes in-between services to allow time for disinfection.”

He said the task force will not hesitate to shut down religious centres if they fail to comply with the protocols developed for their reopening.

“These guidelines provide a baseline for the states to then develop their own policies specific to their areas depending on the prevalence of COVID-19, depending on whether or not people are likely to follow and comply fully.

“But we will be reviewing these guidelines from time to time and we will definitely review them if it looks like we are having issues with regards to this relaxation and I plead with the public to understand with us but more importantly, continue to stay safe.

“It is better to stay at home and worship than to go into a place of worship,” he emphasised.

Sani reminded Nigerians of the dangers posed by the virus, noting that now is not the time to relax measures against the pandemic.

“Let me make some clarifications because I understand there has been a lot of concern nationwide about the opening of places of worship.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 is still around, there is no doubt that it is safer for you to stay at home and there is also no doubt that it is safer for you to worship at home.

“The PTF is providing safety advisory or guidance in the event that you need to upgrade your spiritual needs and you cannot do it at home but we are not making recommendations that people should go to places of worship but if they chose to, we are providing advisory to enable them to do so safely.

“COVID-19 has not gone away. You only need to look at the numbers. We are in the exponential stage of the illness. We have moved as a country right up to the third position in Africa and because of our population, we could also move to the second position or even the first.

“So now is the time to continue to take precautionary measures. Now is not the time to relax. I hope I have made that clear.

“In view of the widespread community transmission of COVID -19, it is important that places of worship operate in a safe manner to ensure the protection of public health, avoid outbreaks and safeguard the health of vulnerable members of the population.”

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