The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the plan by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to rehabilitate the Port Harcourt Refinery with $1.5 billion. The decision was taken at the weekly meeting of the council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The minister said, “The Ministry of Petroleum Resources presented a memo on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery for the sum of $1.5 billion, and that memo was $1.5 billion and it was approved by council today. “So, we are happy to announce that the rehabilitation of the refinery will commence in three phases. The first phase is to be completed in 18 months, which will take the refinery to a production of 90 per cent of its nameplate capacity. “The second phase is to be completed in 24 months and the final stage will be completed in 44 months and consultations are approved. “And I believe that this is good news for Nigeria.”
Eni SpA, Royal Dutch Shell and several of their current and former executives were acquitted of corruption charges related to a Nigerian oil deal by a court in Milan. The verdict ends a three-year legal saga that loomed large over the tenure of Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi, who was among those found not guilty on Wednesday. Italian prosecutors had sought an eight-year jail term for him. Several former executives of the companies were also cleared of wrongdoing, including Malcolm Brinded, who ran Shell’s exploration and production division at the time, and Paolo Scaroni, who was Eni CEO before Descalzi. The ruling is a blow for Nigeria’s government, which joined the case as a civil party in 2018 and was seeking compensation. Prosecutors had charged that executives involved in the 2011 deal to secure Offshore Oil Prospecting License 245 knew that much of the $1.1 billion they deposited into an escrow account controlled by the Nigerian government would be disbursed as bribes. Yet several of their key witnesses failed to back up those allegations when called to testify. The companies and executives accused have consistently denied any wrongdoing. In 2018, two middlemen were found guilty of corruption in a separate trial. A representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said the country will wait to review the Italian court’s written judgement before considering its position. In Italy, sentences aren’t definitive until appeals are exhausted. It could take years before there’s a final decision. The verdict is also a setback for Global Witness, the non-governmental that seeks to expose corruption and human-rights abuses around the world. The group uncovered documents that informed the Italian prosecutor’s decision to take up the case. The verdict doesn’t end the legal woes for Shell related to its Nigerian operations. In January a court in the Netherlands ruled that the Anglo-Dutch major was liable for damages from pipeline leaks in Africa’s most populous country. A few weeks later, the U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled that thousands of Nigerians can sue Shell in London over pollution.
Denmark will send a naval vessel to West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea to aid the fight against rampant piracy. The decision follows a call by A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and shipping industry groups for a more assertive international response to kidnappings that occur in the region. The waters in the area are the most dangerous for seafarers worldwide, accounting for almost all maritime abductions in recent years. The Danish government will deploy a frigate equipped with a helicopter to patrol international waters in the gulf from November for an initial period of five months, according to a statement published Tuesday. The vessel will combat piracy by providing escorts to civilian shipping and carrying out rescue operations following attacks, it said. Last year, 95% of the 135 seafarers seized worldwide were kidnapped in the gulf, a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola, in 22 separate incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Hostages are usually taken to Nigeria, where ransoms are negotiated. Copenhagen-based Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping company, is responsible for more than a third of maritime trade in the gulf, while as many as 40 Danish-operated vessels sail through the area daily. Maersk said in January that “effective military capacity” needs to be dispatched to the region. “If we are to get serious about managing security in the Gulf of Guinea, an international military presence is necessary,” Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said in Tuesday’s statement. “We are working for more countries to assume responsibility.”
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died aged 61, the country’s vice-president has announced. He died on Wednesday from heart complications at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Samia Suluhu Hassan said in an address on state television. Mr Magufuli has not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and rumours have been circulating about his health. Opposition politicians said earlier this week that he had contracted Covid-19, but this has not been confirmed. “It is with deep regret that I inform you that today… we lost our brave leader, the president of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli,” Vice-President Hassan said. She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast.