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FG Pays $496m Settlement Claims on Ajaokuta Steel

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The Federal Government and a foreign investor, Global Steel Group, have resolved their long-running legal dispute over the Ajaokuta Steel Mill and associated businesses, according to Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami.

Malami said that the mediation sessions held in Paris, France, as part of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Alternative Dispute Resolution program were what led to the settlement.

In place of the $5.258 billion the foreign company had first demanded, Nigeria, according to him, would pay $496 million.

A statement yesterday in Abuja by Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, reads: “Nigeria succeeded in reducing the claim in mediation brought by the international firm of King and Spalding, legal representatives of the Global Group, by 91 per cent.

“A claim for over $10 billion was threatened in arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce, International Court of Arbitration, Paris, in respect of five major contracts of 2004-2007 – covering steel, iron ore, and rail.

“…The genesis of the disputes can be traced to five contracts entered into by the 1999 – 2007 administration that gave complete dominance over the Nigerian steel space to one company, the Global Steel Group.

“However, in 2008, a new administration proceeded to terminate these contracts, contrary to the legal advice supplied by the Federal Ministry of Justice, which cited the termination cost in the form of damages.

“Had the government of that day not terminated the Ajaokuta Share Purchase Agreement on April 1, 2008 and waited for just 55 days to terminate, it would have terminated lawfully and the government would have collected more than $26 million from Global Steel.

“This was because the firm appeared unable to pay the first tranche for the Ajaokuta shares before the first anniversary of the agreement (May 25, 2008).

“This failure would have given Nigeria a right to over $26 million as liquidated damages under cl.12 of the Ajaokuta Share Purchase Agreement.

“Global Steel, in consequence, took the FGN to the International Chamber of Commerce, International Court of Arbitration, Paris, commencing arbitration in 2008.

“Although the Federal Government negotiated a settlement in May 2013, the previous administration failed to implement its settlement agreement.

“In May 2020, Global Steel threatened a resumption of the arbitration and announced an anticipated claim in damages of over $10 billion to $14 billion against the Nigerian state in respect of the affected five contracts.

“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, however, took decisive steps to resist this claim, rather than pass it on to a future administration with ballooning interest.”

With this development, Malami said President Buhari has rescued the steel industry from interminable and complex disputes as well as saved the taxpayer from humongous damages.

The minister also stated that one of the lessons to be learnt include the fact that the future arrangements – sale or concessions – must be carried out in the national interest and in compliance with the law.

“The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice grappled with the inherited problem by adopting a blueprint of seven principles for the cost effective resolution of contractual disputes wherever they occur.

“They are the use of institutional mediation, choice of FGN counsel, the use of financial advisers with reputational capital, the importance of not discouraging foreign investment, fiscal responsibility, transparency, and the recognition that joined up government produces superior outcomes.

“The FGN engaged PwCNigeria to do a comprehensive review to ensure taxpayers are protected. Also, Dr. Tunde Ogowewo, a barrister (and senior academic at King’s College, London), represented the FGN and advised the government throughout the process.”

Gwandu quoted Malami as stating that Dr. Ogowewo’s report on Case Reference 15539/VRO/AGF/ZF/TO/AZR/SPN) of over 1,000 pages, provides a guide on how to avoid such contractual disputes and, where they occur, how to reach cost-effective savings for the benefit of Nigerian taxpayers.

Malami, he added, reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to continue to make assiduous efforts in protecting public interest and ensuring that Nigeria is not denuded of its resources through whatever means.

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Brazilian King Of Soccer: Pele Dies At 82

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The Brazillian King of soccer, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pele who was hospitalized in Sao Paulo last Tuesday has died this morning.

Fidel Info reports that Pele, the greatest player to ever play the game and a three-time World Cup champion, allegedly received a respiratory illness diagnosis and was admitted to the hospital right away.

A medical report issued on Friday stated that Pele had a good response to antibiotic therapy and was stable with “general improvement in health status.”

He underwent colon tumor removal in September 2021 and has been routinely receiving hospital care.

According to reports, chemotherapy had been stopped and Pele was just receiving palliative care, which focused on treating symptoms including pain and breathing difficulties.

When he was admitted to the hospital earlier this week, he was also said to have experienced widespread edema and cardiac problems.

Pele had said in an Instagram post on Thursday that he was at the hospital for a “monthly visit” and thanked his supporters for the positive messages he had received.

The former Brazil, Santos and New York Cosmos striker’s face was projected on a building in Qatar with the message, “Get well soon”.

A sign with the same message was displayed by Brazilian fans at the Lusail Stadium last Friday ahead of the national team’s 1-0 defeat against Cameroon.

Meanhwile, ahead of Brazil’s last-16 tie at Stadium 974, Pele recalled memories of his World Cup debut in 1958, when the 17-year-old helped Brazil lift the Jules Rimet Trophy in Sweden.

He wrote on Twitter: “In 1958, I walked the streets thinking about fulfilling the promise I made to my father. I know that today many have made similar promises and are also going in search of their first World Cup.

“I’ll be watching the game from hospital and I’ll be rooting for each one of you. Good luck!”

Injury affected Pele’s contribution to the 1962 and 1966 World Cup finals, but he returned to lead Brazil to a third triumph in Mexico in 1970 as part of what is widely regarded as the greatest international team of all time.

Officially, Pele scored 757 goals in 831 games during a glittering career from 1957 to 1977, although club Santos claim his tally was closer to 1,000.

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Entertainment

Celine Dion Has Been Diagnosed With Stiff-Person Syndrome

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Celine Dion’s diagnosis with stiff-person syndrome has brought public attention to the rare neurological disorder, which affects roughly one or two out of every million people.

Fidel Info reports that Dion announced Thursday that she had postponed dates for her European tour next year due to the condition.

“While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms that I’ve been having. Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I’m used to,” the singer said in an Instagram Video.

People with stiff-person syndrome often experience rigidity in their torso and limbs, as well as severe muscle spasms that can cause them to fall down. The spasms can occur at random or be triggered by certain stimuli, including loud noises, touch and emotional distress.

Dr. Richard Nowak, an assistant neurology professor at the Yale School of Medicine, said the condition “has a range of severity, from quite mild — easily managed with a little bit of medication — to folks that are quite severe that can be, frankly, quite disabled from it.”

Stiff-person syndrome overall disrupts the normal pathways of communication between the brain and the muscles.

“There’s a massive firing that’s occurring from the central nervous system, down through the spinal cord, down through the nerves as they plug into the muscles, and it’s causing them to become rigid or go into spasm, which equals the stiffness,” Nowak said.

In most but not all cases, people with stiff-person syndrome have elevated levels of antibodies that target a particular protein involved in the process of controlling muscle function. Doctors consider these patients to have an autoimmune condition.

“In stiff persons, the pathways that are attacked are the brake pathways, so you’ve lost your brakes on your muscles,” said Dr. Simon Helfgott, a rheumatologist at Harvard Medical School. “Once your muscle starts to contract, it doesn’t have a way to stop itself from contracting.”

Helfgott estimated that about two-thirds of stiff-person patients have these antibodies, which can be picked up by a blood test. But around 30% don’t, he said, so researchers don’t fully understand what’s driving their illness.

A small minority of cancer patients may also produce antibodies that attack the nervous system and trigger stiff-person syndrome, Helfgott added.

Symptoms of the syndrome go beyond the normal muscle cramps that most people experience from time to time, Helfgott said; instead, the muscles tend to lock up. Some of his patients have had difficulty walking or required wheelchairs, he added.

“This is just such a severe diagnosis to have, especially if you’re an entertainer [on] the world-class type of stage,” Helfgott said. “It’s going to be very, very challenging to be able to continue.”

Because many symptoms of stiff-person syndrome overlap with those of Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia or anxiety, it often takes time to diagnose. Doctors rely on several tools to do that, including MRIs of the brain or spinal cord, blood tests or electromyography tests that use tiny needles to measure a person’s muscle and nerve responses.

Helfgott said the syndrome is harder to treat than other autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease, and there is no cure.

Muscle relaxants or Botox injections can help relieve milder symptoms like spasms, Nowak said. Patients with more severe symptoms are often prescribed intravenous immunoglobulin, an infusion that has been shown to reduce people’s stiffness and sensitivity to noise, touch and stress. 

But the symptoms and their severity levels can vary minute by minute, Helfgott said, and it’s difficult to predict whether a patient’s condition will get worse over time.

“In some cases, the condition can level off and stay the way it is. I have people who are like that — they’re no different now than they were 10 years ago,” he said. “In others, it is a slow, subtle decline.”

Source: NBC

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Economy

House Of Reps Has Ordered CBN To Suspend Latest Cash Policy

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On Thursday, the House of Representatives requested that the Central Bank of Nigeria suspend its most recent policy, which among other things places restrictions on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from deposit money banks and other financial institutions.

Fidel Info reports that the House summoned the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, to appear and explain the policy before the parliament.

This is based on a motion of urgent public significance made at the House’s plenary on Thursday by Aliyu Magaji.

The legislation, according to several senators, would harm businesses and Nigerians without access to the banking system and have catastrophic repercussions.

Ndudi Elumelu, the minority leader, asserted that the proposal would reduce crime because money would now be monitored through the banking system. Although the timing could be off, the country would gain more from it, he claimed.

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