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Shell may cough out $3.6bn to Nigerian government

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, dismissed the suit by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, challenging the imposing of $3.6billion fine on it by the Federal Government

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, dismissed the suit by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, challenging the imposing of $3.6billion fine on it by the Federal Government.

The fine had been imposed on Shell for the Bonga oil spill.

Trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, resolved all the issues in the defendant’s favour and dismissed the suit.
Shell sued the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, challenging its powers to impose levies or fines over oil spills.

The plaintiff prayed the court to declare that NOSDRA cannot, in the light of Section 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution, validly exercise any powers under Section 5, 6, 7 and 19 of the NOSDRA Act.

Shell, through its lawyer Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, argued that the sections’ provisions encroach on judicial powers vested exclusively in the courts.

The oil giant argued that it was the Federal High Court that is vested with the jurisdiction to determine liability and to assess, impose and direct the payment of any sum as penalty, damages or compensation in connection with an incidence of oil spillage, particularly the Bonga Oil Spill of December 20, 2011.

Shell urged the court to declare that the decision leading to the imposition of $3,600,191,206.00 on by NOSDRA was in breach of its right as enshrined in Section 36, 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

It also urged the court to nullify NOSDRA’s powers to impose such levies over oil spills.

But NOSDRA, through its counsel, Mr D. A. Awosika, argued that the cause of action arose on March 25, 2015 when it served Shell with notice of sanction over the Bonga Oil Spill.

Awosika contended that Shell was enjoined to exercise its right of litigation if it felt aggrieved by the letters within three months from March 25, 2015 and not beyond.

In her May 24 judgment, a copy of which was obtained

Wednesday, Justice Olatoregun held that NOSDRA acted in line with its powers and did not violate Shell’s rights in any manner.

“I found no conflict with the duties conferred on NOSDRA by law and the power of the court to adjudicate in this matter. I find no violation of the 1999 Constitution within these sections,” the judge held.
Justice Olatoregun further held that NOSDRA’s demand letters to Shell were not in conflict with Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

The judge said: “The plaintiff had notice and opportunity to fair hearing. The plaintiff ought to have had recourse to the court for the determination of its civil rights and a proper adjudication on the issues if it felt its rights were infringed or about to be infringed.

“I do not find the two letters ultra vires the duties and functions of the defendant.”

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South Africa’s FM, Naledi Pandor, wants quick solution to Ghana, MTN tax dispute

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South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor wants the tax dispute between the tech company and the Ghanaian tax authorities solved.

The minister on Friday called MTN Group, which has a presence in 19 countries in Africa and the Middle East, and the Ghana Revenue Authority to find a solution to a $773 million tax dispute.

South Africa’s Department Of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement, Minister Pandor was briefed on the issue this week and called “on the parties involved to do everything possible to find an amicable solution.”

Two weeks ago, the South African mobile operator giant revealed that its Ghanaian subsidiary has received a bill for back taxes of around $773 million. The billing came after the tax authority audited MTN for the years 2014 to 2018 and inferring that it had under-declared its revenue by about 30% during the period.

MTN said it disputes the “accuracy and basis” of the assessment and that it would fight it.

MTN Ghana is the largest company in Ghana by market capitalization as the annual data revenue of MTN Ghana (Scancom PLC) amounted to over 2.7 billion Ghanaian cedis (GHS) in 2021.

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Ivory Coast to increase cocoa processing capacity with new plants

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Ivory Coast, the largest cocoa-producing country in the world, has hinted that it will increase the amount of cocoa it processes domestically to 49%.

According to the head of the sector, the regulator said on Friday, the increase is projected to begin in production starting from October with the addition of several new plants.

The new plants will allow the country to process more than 1 million tonnes of cocoa annually, making it the world’s leading cocoa grinder,

Ivory Coast boasts of annual production of about 2.2 million tonnes with 35-40% processed in the country and the rest exported, but the government has a goal of increasing that to at least 50%.

The country recently signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates for the construction of a new plant in San Pedro with a grinding capacity of 120,000 tonnes, said Yves Brahima Kone, director general of the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), who was in Abu Dhabi this month to open a new CCC office.

“This permanent representation (in Abu Dhabi) is the fruit of our new vision for Ivorian cocoa that we want to export all over the world. This office will allow us to explore markets in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa,” he told journalists

Ivory Coast also expects two new factories financed by China to enter into production in October, with a production capacity of 50,000 tonnes each, Kone said.

In November, the two biggest cocoa producers, Ivory Coast and West African neighbour, Ghana pushed for higher prices for their farm products under the Living Income Differential (LID) and vowed to charge a premium of $400 per tonne on all cocoa sales, starting with the 2020/21 harvest.

The lack of technology and industries to process its produce has fanned discussions about Africa being a raw material economy and extractive centers for industrial western countries that are advanced, able processed and positioned to maximize the resources.

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