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Court stops FG, Huawei from implementing E-Customs concession project

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The Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained the Federal Government from enforcing or giving effect to an agreement on the Customs Modernisation Project otherwise known as E-Customs allegedly executed by its agents on May 30, 2022.

The agents who allegedly executed the disputed concession agreement are the Nigeria Customs Service, Trade Modernisation Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited and African Finance Corporation.

The court also issued an order of interim injunction against the Federal Government or its agents, acting through the Federal Executive Council, from retrospectively ratifying the decision to concession the Customs Modernisation Project also known as e- customs project to Trade Modernisation Project Limited, Huawei Technologies Company Limited and African Finance Corporation.

The restraining order issued by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja Division of the court shall last till the hearing and the determination of a suit brought against the Federal Government and other parties by two aggrieved companies.

The two aggrieved companies, E-customs HC Project Limited and Bionica Technologies (West Africa) Limited, jointly challenged the alleged unlawful and fraudulent concession of the E-custom project to the defendants.

Counsel to the two aggrieved companies, Anone Usman, had on behalf of the two plaintiffs argued an ex-parte application praying the Federal High Court for the interim orders against the defendants to protect the interest of his clients.

Justice Ekwo while ruling on the ex-parte application granted the prayers of the plaintiff having placed sufficient evidence of interest in the concession project.

The judge also granted permission to the aggrieved companies to serve a writ of summons and all other filed processes on the African Finance Corporation at its head office, located in Ikoyi, Lagos through DHL courier services.

Defendants in the suit are the Federal Government of Nigeria; Attorney-General of the Federation; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; the Infrastructure Regulatory Concession Commission; Nigeria Customs Service; Trade Modernisation Project Limited; Huawei Technologies Limited; African Finance Corporation and Bergman Security Consultant and Supply Limited being 1st to 9th defendants respectively.

Justice Ekwo subsequently fixed June 28 for hearing in the matter.

The two plaintiffs had in their statement of claim narrated how they proposed to carry out customs modernisation project through several government officials for the benefit of the Nigeria Customs Service.

They claimed that after series of meetings and negotiation with some of the defendants, President Muhammadu Buhari granted anticipated approval for the e-Custom Project.

They averred that on September 2, 2020, the Minister of Finance presented a memo number EC2020/153 to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, the highest decision making body of the Federal Government, and secured approval for the two plaintiffs to be granted the concession.

Plaintiffs further claimed that trouble started when the Nigeria Customs Service unilaterally reviewed the FEC approval and imposed other conditions among which are shareholding formula and governance structure.

They claimed that the power of the NCS to unilaterally review FEC approval was protested and that the Comptroller General of Customs stood his ground.

Plaintiff asserted that to their surprise they read in the news that the Nigeria Customs Service had executed a concession agreement with Trade Modernisation Project on May 30, 2022, Huawei Technologies Company and African Finance Corporation in total breach of the Concession Agreement vetted by the AGF in conjunction with the Minister of Finance.

They averred that Trade Modernisation Project was incorporated April, 2022 at the Corporate Affairs Commission with one Alhaji Saleh Amodu, a close friend of the Comptroller General of Customs as the Chairman.

Plaintiff asserted that the new company having been just incorporated in April 2022 could not have obtained and did not obtain the full business case compliance certificate from the Infrastructure Regulatory Concession Commission and the approval of the Federal Executive Council to carry out the e-Customs project.

They therefore asked the court to make a declaration that the decisions of the Federal Government and its agents to enter into concession agreement with Trade Modernisation Project, Huawei Technologies Company and African Finance Corporation in respect of the e-Customs project is illegal, null and void, having been made in gross violation of Section 2 of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act 2005.

They also asked the court to declare that E-customs HC Project Limited is the approved and rightful concessionaire for the e-customs project as approved by the Federal Executive Council at its meeting of September 2, 2020 and in line with Section 2 of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Act.

They also applied for an order of the court directing the Federal Government through the AGF, Finance Minister, ICRC and NCS to consummate the E- customs project with the 1st plaintiff as approved by FEC in September 2020.

Besides, the two plaintiffs asked the court to compel the defendants to pay them a sum of Two Hundred Million Naira as cost of litigation.

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NAICOM revokes licences of Niger Insurance, Standard Alliance, appoints liquidators

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The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has revoked their licences of Niger Insurance Plc and the Standard Alliance Insurance after failing to recapitalise.

The insurance regulator has also appointed two liquidators to prepare their rites of passage.

The two insurance firms had been in poor financial state and several efforts to resuscitate them had proved abortive.

Nasdaq ‘Salami Head, Corporate Communications and Market Development

NAICOM notified insurance stakeholders and members of the public of the commission’s action

“This is to notify all insurance stakeholders and members of the public that the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM has cancelled the certificates of registration of Standard Alliance Insurance Plc, RIC – 091 and Niger Insurance Plc, RIC – 029 with effect from the 21st day of June 2022.”

Salami also announced that Sanya, Ogunkuade Esq of Plot 217, Upper Grace Plaza, 3rd Floor (Left Wing), Shetima Munguno Crescent, Behind Julius Berger Equipment Yard, Utako, Abuja as the Receiver/Liquidator for Niger Insurance Plc and, Kehinde Aina Esq of Aina Blankson LP, 5/7, Ademola Street, SW Ikoyi, Lagos as the Receiver/Liquidator for Standard Alliance Insurance Plc.

He advised all stakeholders to forward their enquiries to the respective receiver/liquidator for each company for their necessary action.

The commission assures all stakeholders of the safety and protection of their interests.

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As Mercedes cuts dealerships, Nigerian traders may be axed

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There is uncertainty over the fate of some Mercedes-Benz dealers in Nigeria operating through Weststar Associates Limited (the authorized distributor of Mercedes Benz in the country) as there are speculations that they may be sacked.

This follows international reports that Mercedes-Benz plans to reduce its dealerships by 10% worldwide, and up to 20% in the home market, Germany, by 2025, as it targets direct sales.

The prolific car manufacturer plan to hit 25 per cent online sales by 2025 as well as secure 80 per cent of European sales through its new direct sales model by 2025.

“We want to have more proximity to the customer and therefore have better control over pricing,” Mercedes chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm recently said.

“That’s why we are moving from the current dealer role.”

Weststar Associates Limited dealers in Nigeria who may be among those that may be affected by this new policy of Mercedes Benz include Skymit, Sunny Motors, Barbedos Cars, Mercedes Benz Centre and Tetralog.

However, when an official of Weststar Associates Limited was contacted by Transport Day, he promised to get back with an official position of the company concerning the matter, but Transport Day was yet to get the feedback as at the time of filling this report.

Mercedes-Benz currently has approximately 6,500 Mercedes and Smart sales and service outlets worldwide, and roughly 1,000 dealerships in Germany.

According to Bettina Fetzer, Vice president of communications and marketing, cuts to its global dealership will take place by 2025 while cuts in the German market will take place by 2028.

Founded in 2007, Weststar Associates Limited came into being after the official exit of Mercedes Benz representative office in Nigeria, following the disinvestment of the German company from Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO), Enugu.

Source: Transport Day

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Latest seven-seater Range Rover SV unveiled for Nigerian market

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Coscharis Motors has rolled out the all-new Range Rover SV, a seven-seater, for the Nigerian market.
The unveiling of the luxury sport utility vehicle, courtesy of Coscharis Motors, was done at the company’s office at Awoyaya, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos.
General Manager, Marketing/Corporate Communications, Coscharis Group, Abiona Babarinde, said the Range Rover SV is one of the most desirable models ever created by Land Rover.
The vehicle is said to have a distinctive design detail resulting in a form that speaks to modernity and the pinnacle of progressive luxury.
Giving specific special features of the new Range Rover, Marketing Manager, Jaguar Land Rover, Cletus Aregbesola, says the vehicle is well defined by aesthetic grace, sophistication and refinement.
According to him, Range Rover would not have anticipated designing a Range Rover with seven seats four years ago but that milestone has been successfully achieved with the new Range Rover.


Having seven seats, the marketing manager said, had not affected both the driver’s legroom and rear legroom.
He said, “It has a choice of Standard or Long Wheelbase body designs provides elevated luxury for five or seven adults, all delivered while retaining the unmistakeable Range Rover profile and Command Driving position.
“Range Rover’s imposing face communicates a character of unparalleled. And, for the first time on Range Rover, 23” wheels enhance the vehicle’s presence and supreme stature, contrasted by its reductive, modern detail”, he added.
Jaguar Land Rover Service Manager, Masimba Joseph Gwetsuro, speaks on the driving dynamics, saying the vehicle is provided with new 530PS (390kW) 4.4-litre V8 that produces maximum torque of 750Nm.


Gwetsuro says that it takes the Range Rover from 0-100km/h (0-60mph) in 4,6 (4,4) seconds.
The new 530PS (390kW) 4.4-litre V8 produces maximum torque of 750Nm.
He says, “With Dynamic Launch engaged, he declared that the vehicle has cleaner, more efficient mild hybrid technology available with a range of diesel and petrol engines.
“Range Rover features a modern and sophisticated interior, underpinned by its impeccable reductive nature, tactile materials and an intuitive approach to relevant technology. No detail has been overlooked. Nothing is for show.”
He says the new Range Rover is now available in all Coscharis showrooms across the country with prices ranging between N70 million and N200 million.

 

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