England begins second COVID-19 lockdown on Thursday – Newstrends
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England begins second COVID-19 lockdown on Thursday

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England will return to the lockdown mode from midnight next Thursday after the country passed the milestone of one million COVID-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new restrictions on Saturday night.

The United Kingdom, which has the biggest official death toll in Europe from COVID-19, is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day.

Scientists have warned the “worst case” scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded.

Johnson, at a hastily convened news conference in Downing Street after news of a lockdown leaked to local media, said that the one-month lockdown across England would kick in at a minute past midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2.

In some of the most onerous restrictions in Britain’s peacetime history, people will only be allowed to leave home for specific reasons such as education, work, exercise, shopping for essentials and medicines or caring for the vulnerable.

“We must act now,” Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.

“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day.”

The government will revive its emergency coronavirus wage subsidy scheme to ensure workers who are temporarily laid off during a new England-wide lockdown receive 80% of their pay, he said.

Essential shops, schools, and universities will remain open, Johnson said. Pubs and restaurants will be shut apart from for takeaways. All non-essential retail will close.

Johnson’s imposition of stricter curbs came after scientists warned the outbreak was going in the wrong direction and that action was needed to halt the spread of the virus if families were to have any hope of gathering at Christmas.

The measures bring England into alignment with France and Germany by imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.

“I am optimistic that this will feel very different and better by the spring,” Johnson said, adding that there was realistic hope of a vaccine in the first quarter of next year.

Asked by reporters what took him so long to impose a national lockdown, Johnson said it was a constant struggle to balance the risk to life and the risk to livelihoods.

“We have to mindful the whole time of the scarring and the long-term economic impact of the measures,” Johnson said. His medical adviser Whitty said that without the tougher measures then the National Health Service could be overwhelmed.

The new lockdown will heap more pressure on finance minister Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England to increase their already huge support for the UK economy, the world’s sixth-biggest. The economy slumped a record 20 per cent in the spring.

So far the United Kingdom has reported 46,555 COVID-19 deaths – defined as those dying within 28 days of a positive test. A broader measure of those with COVID-19 on their death certificates puts the toll at 58,925.

The United Kingdom has the world’s fifth largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

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Sultan: Check your facts well, Sokoto govt replies Shettima

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President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III

Sultan: Check your facts well, Sokoto govt replies Shettima

The Sokoto state government has asked Vice President Kashim Shettima to always cross check facts before commenting on sensitive national matters.

Responding to the warning publicly made by the Vice President at the Northwest Security summit in Katsina on Monday, the state government said the Vice President should have contacted Governor Ahmed Aliyu to verify the news which made rounds on the purported plan to depose Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar before going public.

In a statement signed by the spokesman of Governor Aliyu, Abubakar Bawa, the government urged the Vice President to always have full knowledge of issues of national concern before commenting on them.

“We sincerely expected the Vice President to have consulted the Governor before going public.

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“As an elder statesman and a father to all he should have facts and figures before judging on issues raised by mischief makers and the mushroom social media handlers known for negative propaganda.

“The fact of the matter is that there was never any attempt to sack the Sultan nor have we sent him any threat regarding that.

“Sultan enjoys all the powers he is entitled to. We never denied him any of his freedom or rights .

“We therefore do not need to be told to guard, protect, and promote the Sultan. It is our sole responsibility.

“The government and People of Sokoto cherish and adore the sultanate council and would do everything possible to protect the dignity of the revered institution. The Government to this end reassures all Nigerians that, it will continue to protect the sultanate council and its dignity at all times,” the statement read.

Sultan: Check your facts well, Sokoto govt replies Shettima

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Chinese investor seizes Nigeria’s properties in UK over debt

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Chinese investor seizes Nigeria’s properties in UK over debt

Two Nigerian properties located in the United Kingdom are on the verge of being taken over by a Chinese investor following an order granting the investor the right to enforce a $70 million investment treaty award against Nigeria.

The investor, Zhongshan Fucheng Industrial Investment, was granted final charging orders over two UK residential properties owned by the Nigerian government after the company also attached a £20 million debt relating to the high-profile P&ID case.

The Chinese firm secured this order on June 14 when Master Sullivan in the Commercial Court in London granted the orders in respect of two Liverpool properties estimated to be worth a combined £1.7 million.

According to the judge, the order was premised on the fact that the properties have been converted to commercial use outside Nigeria’s diplomatic or consular activities in the UK, stressing that enforcement of the order should prevail.

The high profile case was a gritty legal battle between Zhongshan represented before the court by Withers and barristers at 3VB, while Nigeria was represented by Squire Patton Boggs and a barrister at Atkin Chambers.

Sources said the underlying arbitration was in relation to a joint venture with Nigeria’s Ogun State to establish a free trade zone near  Lagos in 2013. A Zhongshan subsidiary held a 60% stake in the project but Ogun terminated its participation three years later.

In 2021, a London-seated UNCITRAL tribunal chaired by Lord Neuberger including Matthew Gearing KC and Rotimi Oguneso SAN said Nigeria was guilty of expropriation and other breaches of the China-Nigeria bilateral investment treaty and ordered the country to to pay US$55.6 million plus interest and costs.

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Nigeria in the same year put a challenge against the award in the Commercial Court on jurisdictional grounds. Nigeria’s position was that the arbitration clause in the BIT was invalid. But in later development, Nigeria withdrew the challenge before a hearing on Zhongshan’s application for security and security for costs was about to take place.

Mrs Justice Cockerill in the same court granted Zhongshan an ex parte enforcement order in December 2021, but Nigeria did not file againt this order within the 74-day deadline allowed by the law.
In July 2023, the Court of Appeal in London stopped Nigeria from bringing a late challenge to the enforcement order, stressing Cockerill’s provisional determination that state immunity did not apply had become final.

The investor reportedly got interim charging orders in June and August last year over the two properties in Liverpool, which are owned by the Nigerian government.

Nigeria’s efforts to dismiss these charging orders failed as Master Sullivan in her judgement, held that the properties are leased to residential tenants and that no “consular activities are actually taking place on the premises”.

She also dismissed Nigeria’s arguments that it had not been properly served with the interim charging order applications under the State Immunity Act and that Zhongshan had failed to give full and frank disclosure when seeking them.

Master Sullivan also dismissed Nigeria’s objection about parties bringing multiple enforcement action, saying that parties are “entitled to bring as many types of enforcement action as they see fit to recover their debt.” She noted that Nigeria had yet to pay any of the award and that the value of the properties represented a “small proportion of it”.

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Timi Balogun of Squire Patton Boggs, counsel to Nigeria, said: “We respectfully disagree with the Master’s decision, which we believe somewhat brushes over complex public international law issues, including with respect to state immunity and the right of a foreign state’s High Commission to own and manage portfolios of fixed assets in England and Wales. We believe that such issues need to be weighed very carefully, and we intend to appeal this decision so that these complex and important issues can be considered by the higher courts.”

Zhongshan applied to enforce the award in Washington, DC in 2022. Last year, the DC district court rejected Nigeria’s motion to dismiss the action on sovereign immunity grounds. The state argued the China-Nigeria BIT was “quintessentially sovereign” and therefore the award did not arise from a commercial relationship between the parties. The DC district proceeding is stayed pending Nigeria’s appeal of the sovereign immunity decision.

Zhongshan has also taken enforcement measures in various other jurisdictions, including in Quebec, where it seeks conservatory seizure of a private jet; and in Belgium, where Nigeria is challenging attachments of properties.

In the British Virgin Islands, Zhongshan has obtained an interim attachment over a £20 million liability owed Nigeria by BVI-registered company Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) under an English Commercial Court ruling. The Chinese company withdrew an earlier application to attach the same liability in England.

The Commercial Court ordered P&ID to pay Nigeria £20 million in costs in December last year after upholding the state’s challenge to an US$11 billion award in favour of the company. Mr Justice Robin Knowles found the award was procured through false evidence, corrupt payments and improper retention of leaked documents.

At the time of filing this report yesterday, Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was yet to react to a message sent to it on this development.

Chinese investor seizes Nigeria’s properties in UK over debt

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Sokoto government denies plot to dethrone Sultan

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Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll

Sokoto government denies plot to dethrone Sultan

Sokoto government has denied allegations that it’s plotting to depose His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III.

The state Commissioner for information and societal reorientation Hon. Sambo Bello Danchadi in a swift reaction on Tuesday said the state government has no plan whatsoever to dethrone the revered monarch, while describing the allegation by MURIC as false and baseless.

Sambo explained that the law guiding the appointment and disposition of traditional rulers in the state had not been changed or even repelled.

The Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Council (MURIC), Prof. Isiaq Akintola, on Monday, raised alarm that, Sokoto state government was plotting to depose His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto against the backdrop of the happenings in Kano.

MURIC in a statement cited the removal of 15 traditional rulers for various offences.

Prof Akintola, in a statement further warned that, Muslims Ummah in Nigeria would reject and resist any hostile actions against the Sultan, who happened to be the spiritual leader of all Muslins in Nigeria.

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The Islamic organization however expressed concern over the alleged sour relationship between the state government and the Sultan.

The organisation said the pedestal of the Sultan of Sokoto was not only traditional but also religious, noting that the Sultan doubles as the head of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

The group warned the Sokoto governor not to “force Nigerian Muslims to take a drastically revolutionary measure.”

It said, “Feelers in circulation indicate that the governor may descend on the Sultan of Sokoto any moment from now using any of the flimsy excuses used to dethrone the 15 traditional rulers whom he removed earlier.

“MURIC advises the governor to look before he leaps. The Sultan’s stool is not only traditional, it is also religious. In the same vein, his jurisdiction goes beyond Sokoto. It covers the whole of Nigeria. He is the spiritual head of all Nigerian Muslims.

“Any governor who tampers with the stool of the Sultan will have Nigerian Muslims to reckon with because the Sultan combines the office of the Sultan of Sokoto and that of the President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs ” MURIC had earlier cautioned.

Sokoto government denies plot to dethrone Sultan

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