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Nigeria loses $1.092bn claim as Italian court acquits Eni, Shell

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Nigeria’s request for a court order compelling Eni and Royal Dutch Shell to pay $1.092bn as an immediate advance payment for damages in one of the oil industry’s biggest-ever corruption trials has failed.

This followed the acquittal on Wednesday by an Italian court of Shell, Eni and their managers in the controversial Malabu scandal.

The Malabu scandal involved the transfer of about $1.1 billion by Shell and Eni through the Nigerian government to accounts controlled by a former Nigerian petroleum minister, Dan Etete.

The sentence, read out in court by Judge Marco Tremolada, came more than three years after the trial first began and after a total of 74 hearings.

At a hearing into alleged corruption linked to Eni and Shell’s 2011 acquisition of the OPL 245 field, Lucio Lucia, lawyer for the Nigerian government, called for a guilty verdict and an advance payment, ahead of any broader damages package set by a court at a later date.

Lucia did not specify how much Nigeria was seeking in damages overall, but said the disputed deal had deprived Nigeria of “profit oil”, adding that “these are massive amounts”.

The lawyer said, calculated under two different scenarios, the profits that had been lost amounted to $4.5bn and $5.9bn respectively.

From accounts controlled by Mr Etete, about half the money ($520 million) went to accounts of companies controlled by Aliyu Abubakar, popularly known in Nigeria as the owner of AA oil.

Anti-corruption investigators and activists suspect he fronted for top officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration as well of officials of Shell and ENI.

The transaction was authorised in 2011 by Mr Jonathan through some of his cabinet ministers and the money was payment for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks.

Although Shell and ENI initially claimed they did not know the money would end up with Mr Etete and his cronies, evidence later showed that the claim was false.

Shell, Eni, Mr Etete, Mr Aliyu and several officials of the oil firms are being prosecuted in Italy for their roles in the scandal.

Italian prosecutors had alleged corruption in the deal while campaigners said the Nigerian government was short-changed.

After years of trial, the court in Milan has now determined that Shell and Eni are not guilty of the charges.

On April 9, 1998, the Federal Military Government awarded OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, which was said to be owned mainly by Mohammed Abacha, son of the Sani Abacha, and Etete, who was the petroleum minister at the time.

On July 2, 2001, President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked Malabu’s licence and assigned the oil block to Shell — without a public bid.

Malabu went to court, but ownership was reverted to it in 2006 after it reached an out-of-court settlement with the federal government. Shell fought back and commenced arbitration against Nigeria, but when President Goodluck Jonathan came to power in 2010, the controversy appeared to have been resolved with Shell and Eni agreeing to buy the oil block from Malabu for $1.1 billion.

The oil companies also paid $210 million as signature bonus to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

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Osinbajo test-drives Hyundai Kona, Nigeria’s locally-assembled electric car

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Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday test-drove the first locally-assembled electric car, Hyundai Kona.
It was during an exhibition tour of made-in-Nigeria products at the opening ceremony of a five-day Nigeria@60 Expo, held at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
The event was organised by the inter-ministerial committee on Nigeria@60, in collaboration with Business Visa and Training Company Limited.
The vehicle, which was assembled by Stallion Motors, was first launched in Lagos in November 2020 by the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Director-General, National Automotive Design and Development Council, Jelani Aliyu, in February 2021 unveiled the vehicle in Abuja.
Osinbajo said he was impressed with the innovation, adding that it was an indication of a bright future for Nigeria.
He said, “A very good drive. Fantastic! It just shows what is possible. I am glad to see that this is an assembled-in-Nigeria electric car.”
“You can literally charge it anywhere. I think it is a very fantastic innovation, fantastic product, and I can tell because I drove it.”
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the event was aimed at showcasing what Nigeria can produce with local raw materials.
“To complement the efforts of the federal government at ensuring that we produce what we eat and eat what we produce, in this context, we are to produce what we use and use what we produce,” he said.
Director-General, World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in a goodwill message, commended the organisers for their efforts to showcase the growth of Nigeria’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate drops to 17.93%

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The Consumer Price Index, which measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services, dropped to 17.93 per cent in May from 18.12 in April.
This is the highpoint of the ‘Consumer Price Index Report’ released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.
On month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.01 per cent in May 2021. This is 0.04 percentage points higher than the rate recorded in April 2021 (0.97 per cent).
The urban inflation rate increased by 18.51 per cent (year-on-year) in May 2021 from 18.68 per cent recorded in April 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 17.36 per cent in May 2021 from 17.57 per cent in April 2021.
The report said in May 2021, all items inflation on year on year basis was highest in Kogi (25.13 per cent), Bauchi (23.02 per cent) and Sokoto (20.11 per cent), while Katsina (15.69 per cent), Imo (15.52 per cent) and Delta (14.85 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in headline Year on Year inflation.
“On month on month basis however, May 2021 all items inflation was highest in Kogi (2.22%), Ogun (2.17%) and Cross River (2.07%), while Ekiti (0.02%) recorded the slowest rise in headline month on month
with River and Sokoto recording price deflation or negative inflation (general decrease in the general price level of food or a negative food inflation rate).”
The food inflation also reduced to 22.28 per cent in May from 22.72 in April.
This was driven by irise in prices of bread, cereals, milk, cheese, eggs, fish, soft drinks, coffee, tea and cocoa, fruits, meat, oils and fats and vegetables.
“In May 2021, food inflation on a year on year basis was highest in Kogi (32.82%), Kwara (26.02%) and Enugu (25.43%), while Akwa Ibom (20.06%), Bauchi (18.65%) and Abuja (16.91%) recorded the slowest rise in year on year inflation,” the report added.
It also stated, “On month on month basis however, May 2021 food inflation was highest in Kogi (3.11%), Ogun (2.89%) and Anambra (2.37%), while Edo, Sokoto and Ekiti recorded price deflation or negative inflation (general decrease in the general price level of food or a negative food inflation rate).”

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BMW releases two new-generation 4-Series Gran Coupes

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BMW has unveiled two new second-generation 4-Series Gran Coupes for the 2022 model year, the 430i and M440i xDrive, arriving at the showroom this August.
The company says production of the all-wheel-drive 430i xDrive Gran Coupe and rear-wheel-drive M440i Gran Coupe models will follow at a later date.
The cars have a 50-50 weight distribution according to the company.
Exterior
Its exterior updates include a redesigned kidney grille, headlights, front and rear bumpers, exhaust trim, and rear lights.
The standard LED headlights are 0.4 inches thinner than before while the grille is larger and is now surrounded by a one-piece frame.
The new 4-Series Gran Coupe’s exterior profile has been “sharpened,” according to the company.
It is 5.9-inches longer, an inch wider, and 2.1-inches taller than its predecessor, while the tracks have grown 1.6-inches in the front and 0.7-inches in the rear.
The wheelbase is 1.8-inches longer. The company says the new body includes “optimized aerodynamics” for better driving dynamics and efficiency.
“An active air flap control system, air curtains, streamlined light alloy wheels, and an almost completely sealed underbody serve to channel the airflow effectively,” the company said. The 430i’s drag coefficient is 0.28, 0.01 less than the previous model.
BMW said an “intelligent mix of materials helps to reduce vehicle weight while enhancing the body’s rigidity and crash safety,” including multi-phase steels and aluminum alloys.
The front end includes an extruded aluminum engine side member and die-cast aluminum spring struts, and the new car has an aluminum hood and front fenders.

Interior
The interior is larger, with a bit more headroom and more rear seat legroom.
The new Gran Coupe uses iDrive 7, with individually configurable display content. You can configure the content via touchscreen, iDrive controller, steering wheel buttons, voice control or optional BMW gesture control.
Heated front and rear seats are optional, as is front seat ventilation and wireless charging.
BMW says the cloud-based nav system’s performance has been “significantly enhanced” with “excellent accuracy” and an easier method of destination entry.
“The new generation navigation system offers extremely fast route calculation carried out dynamically and based on precise real-time traffic data transmitted at short intervals,” the company said.
Hi-tech
Drivers can enter any word when searching a destination, with the search results sorted by relevance.
“Alternatively,” the company says, “the destination can be entered simply by saying it. Points of interest (POIs) along the route are described in detail, with reviews, opening times and photos all included.”
The new system can help you find primo parking spots.
Engine/performance
The cars use BMW’s latest TwinPower Turbo 2.0-litre four- and 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines.
The M440i xDrive’s inline-six has a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Both the four and six feature a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection, fully variable valve timing, and variable camshaft timing, along with more efficient cooling and oil supply systems.
The M440i xDrive’s engine generates 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, good enough to run the car to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The four-cylinder in the 430i delivers 255 hp and 295 lb-ft for a 5.8-second 0-to-60 time.
All engines are mated to the latest eight-speed Sport Steptronic transmission with steering-wheel mounted shift paddles and launch control.
BMW says the new transmission delivers sharper shifts, improved efficiency, and faster gear changes.
The M440i xDrive has a Sprint function for “more dramatic bursts of mid-range acceleration,” according to the company.
BMW’s adaptive M suspension is optional, using electronically controlled shocks with continuously adjustable valves to allow the damping force to be metered at each wheel individually.
The modes are comfort, sport, and adaptive; the latter adjusts the steering, damping, accelerator, and transmission to suit the driving style.
M Sport brakes are also optional (standard on the M440i xDrive), and use a different hydraulic configuration with four-piston fixed front calipers and single-piston floating rear calipers.
The M Sport rear diff is standard on the M440i xDrive and optional on the 430i, optimizing putting the power down.
“Power which cannot be transferred to the road by the unloaded wheel on the inside of the corner—as it is liable to slip—is deliberately shifted to the wheel on the outside of the corner, rather than applying the brakes to neutralize its effect,” the company said.
“As a result, all the engine’s power can be channelled into providing a sporty driving experience. The carefully calculated distribution of drive power gives the car greater poise when negotiating a quick succession of bends and optimizes directional stability when changing lanes at the same time as during braking.”
Safety
Frontal-collision warning is standard, as is city collision mitigation with braking, lane -departure warning, active blind-spot detection, rear-cross traffic alert, and rear collision preparation.
BMW also updated its X3 and X4 coupes with revised exteriors, drivetrains, and infotainment systems.
The six-cylinder X3 M40i and X4 M40i models now have a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.
The lineup includes rear-drive X3 sDrive30i and X4 sDrive30i models, all-wheel-drive X3 xDrive30i and X4 xDrive30i models, and M all-wheel-drive X3 M40i and X4 M40i models. The two M40is use a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.
As in the 4-Series, the 2.0-litre four and 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engines feature TwinScroll turbos, direct injection, a variable camshaft system, and variable valve control system.
The four-cylinder produces 248 hp and 258 lb-ft, while the six produces 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.
The straight-six in the mighty X3 M and X4 M now offers 473 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. All models use an updated eight-speed automatic.

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