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Prince Andrew’s criticisms of Virginia Giuffre may backfire, lawyers say

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Virginia Giuffre

Prince Andrew’s criticisms of Virginia Giuffre may backfire, lawyers say

Prince Andrew’s attacks on Virginia Giuffre ’s character in an attempt to get her sexual assault lawsuit against him thrown out may fail and risk doing further damage to his reputation, British lawyers have said.

Having initially attempted to prevent service of the suit, which alleges that he sexually abused Giuffre when she was 17, the prince’s lawyers went on the offensive over the weekend in an attempt to get her “baseless” claim dismissed.

Their filings accuse Giuffre of seeking a “payday” at Andrew’s expense and contain references from friends and in newspaper articles to her being a “money hungry sex kitten” and recruiting girls for the convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died in custody in 2019, awaiting trial.

At the same time they argue that a 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein, formerly a friend of Andrew, absolves the prince from responsibility, a notion rejected by Giuffre’s lawyer.

Mark Stephens, a partner at Howard Kennedy and UK media law expert, said it would take a brave judge to dismiss the case and suggested Prince Andrew had potentially opened himself up to further embarrassment.

“He’s obviously got fed up with the criticism that he’s taken so he has instructed lawyers to engage,” said Stephens. “The problem of course, is that he’s now embarked on a route towards a case. He’s saying it should be struck out because she’s unreliable but also that he’s covered by the plea deal from Epstein in any event, which seemed to be sort of contradictory.

“The problem you’ve got is he clearly as a human being wants to explain himself, he wants to make clear that he’s not responsible but his only way of doing that is in the court hearing. And if he does that, he has to get into what he actually did with her, how did the photograph [with Giuffre] come to be taken etc [allies of Andrew have claimed the photo was faked and he says he has “no recollection” of meeting her] and she will undoubtedly give graphic and detailed evidence about what she says were their liaisons”.

Andrew, 61, has “absolutely and categorically” denied having sex with Giuffre but the allegations have already done huge damage to his reputation. The Queen’s second son stepped back from royal duties in 2019 in the aftermath of a disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis for BBC’s Newsnight in which he was perceived as unsympathetic towards Epstein’s victims.

His lawyers’ latest strategy risks exacerbating that perception, according to a senior partner at a leading London law firm, who described the allegations in the filings as a “smokescreen”.

The solicitor, who did not want to be named, said: “This looks like putting up a smokescreen to tarnish her [Giuffre’s] reputation but it has no legal relevance whatsoever. Whether or not she was complicit in assisting Epstein with his child abuse is neither here nor there when you consider the allegations against Prince Andrew, which are that he raped and molested her. However he tarnishes her character, it makes absolutely no difference to that issue.”

He said an English judge would ignore it and while there was more chance of US jurors being swayed by it, there was no guarantee.

“A jury might think, ‘This is an American citizen, and who’s this prince trying to blacken the character of one of our own?’, so it’s a high-risk strategy even with a jury, I would have thought,” he said.

In her lawsuit, Giuffre alleged the prince “stonewalled”, rejecting a request to explore alternative dispute resolution. The attempts to challenge service and jurisdiction further raised uncertainty about his level of engagement with the case but Richard Spafford, partner at Reed Smith, said it was “fairly standard” to try to stop the lawsuit in its tracks and only when those tactics failed, address the actual merits of the case.

“I can only assume that it’s been decided within his advisory team that, notwithstanding the fact that his application will attract publicity, that it’s nonetheless the appropriate step to take,” said Spafford. “On the basis of that there must be a view that these arguments raise the possibility that the case will be dismissed by the judge, or, alternatively, that the plaintiff may be more likely to conclude that it’s appropriate to settle it.”

Thomas Garner, partner at Fladgate, said the attacks on Giuffre showed the gloves were off even if it might do “irreparable” damage to the prince’s reputation. “If there was any doubt as to how he would handle the claim, this application makes it clear that if [the judge] doesn’t dismiss the claim then Prince Andrew intends to go on the attack,” he said.

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NNPC transforms to new company from July 1

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NNPC transforms to new company from July 1

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will from Friday, July 1 become a different entity in its operation.

The state-owned corporation, will no longer be simply referred to as NNPC but the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.).

The operation as a limited liability company is under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and would commence upon the signing of the assets transfer documents by the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance the same day.

The development is in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

Group Managing Director (GMD)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari, said in a recent engagement session with business leaders across the company’s value chain in Abuja that they were working to comply with the provisions of the PIA.

He said NNPC was doing everything possible to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) with regards to guidelines and timelines for action.

Kyari said that the new company would become operational with the transfer of verified assets from the Corporation to the NNPC Ltd. by the Ministers of Petroleum and Finance.

He explained that with the level of assets available combined with the new fiscal regime, NNPC Ltd. was set to become the number one energy company in Africa, noting that global brands interested in doing business with the new NNPC Ltd. needed to be sure of the company’s asset base.

On the objective of the session, Kyari stated that it was organised to engage business leaders on issues of change management strategies required to achieve the new business realities as a limited liability entity.

He added that the success or otherwise of the company depends heavily on how the change is managed.

In his presentation, the Chairman of the NNPC PIA Implementation Team and Group Executive Director, Downstream, Mr Yemi Adetunji, said that all was set for the presidential unveiling of the NNPC Ltd., scheduled for July 19.

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Senate Begins Screening Of New Ministerial Nominees

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Senate Begins Screening Of New Ministerial Nominees

Lawmakers in the Senate chamber of the National Assembly have commenced the screening of the ministerial nominees recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The screening of the nominees is ongoing at a plenary presided over by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

With less than a year to the end of his administration, President Buhari recently asked the lawmakers to confirm seven nominees as ministers to join his cabinet.

The nominees were appointed from four south-east states, as well as one state each in the north-west, south-west, and south-south regions.

They include Henry Ikechukwu – Abia State, Umana Okon Umana – Akwa-Ibom State, Ekuma Joseph – Ebonyi State, Goodluck Nana Obia – Imo State, Umar Ibrahim Yakub – Kano State, Ademola Adewole Adegorioye – Ondo State, and Odo Udi – Rivers State.

The nominees were appointed from four south-east states, as well as one state each in the north-west, south-west, and south-south regions.

They include Henry Ikechukwu – Abia State, Umana Okon Umana – Akwa-Ibom State, Ekuma Joseph – Ebonyi State, Goodluck Nana Obia – Imo State, Umar Ibrahim Yakub – Kano State, Ademola Adewole Adegorioye – Ondo State, and Odo Udi – Rivers State.

4:42 pm: The Senate has screened the sixth and seventh nominees Ademola Adewole Adegoroye from Ondo State and Odum Odi from Rivers State.


3:45 pm: The fifth nominee is Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub from Kano State. He is also a former federal lawmaker and presently the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on National Assembly Matters( House of Reps).

He was also asked to take a bow and go.


2:55 pm: The fourth nominee, Goodluck Opiah, was asked to take a bow and go, a privilege and Senate tradition for former lawmakers in the state or federal legislature.


2:42 pm: The third nominee Ekumankama Joseph is being screened.

While responding to a question on how to resolve the impasse between the FG and ASUU, he said there’s a need for both sides to reach a compromise.

He explained that ASUU has been sticking to its guns but there are several issues demanding government funds, so both sides need to compromise. He urged the Senate to make adequate budgetary provisions in the 2023 budget to address some of the issues raised by the striking lecturers.


2:05 pm: Okon Umana takes a bow to exit the floor of the chamber.


2:02 pm: “I want to say that even the Free Zones platform is a veritable platform for this. The Free Zone is a platform that can drive production because when you produce for export, you earn foreign exchange,” Umana said on how to boost the nation’s foreign exchange.

“So we have to look at whatever is inhibiting production and address that but I think that the key is production.”


1:48 pm: “As it is customary, I will like to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for this nomination. Before I continue, I also thank Senator Albert Bassy Akpan for this very brilliant testimony,” said Senator Omo-Agege.


1:45 pm: Before Umana responded, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan gave some testimony. He said he has known the nominee for about 22 years and that his appointment is apt.


1:37 pm: “What do you think we should do to add more foreign exchange, especially in the area that you have worked so that we reduce our level of borrowing because we borrow because we don’t have enough but I believe the potentials are there?” the Senate President asked the nominee.


1:31 pm: Okon Umana, reads his profile before the Distinguished members of the Senate.


1:23 pm: The next nominee being screened is Okon Umana from Akwa Ibom State. He says he is the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zone.


1:16 pm: The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, however, reminded his colleagues that there is no requirement for a ministerial nominee to possess an NYSC discharge certificate.

Senator Lawan, on his part, said being a member of a political party has no bearing on a ministerial appointment and the President has the right to appoint anyone as minister regardless of political affiliation.


1:11 pm: The lawmakers asked the nominee questions on his capacity to drive industrial development in the country, given the short timeframe before a new administration comes on board in 2023.

They also interrogated his participation in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and his membership of a political party.


12:49 pm: Mr Ikoh addressed the Senate. He said he is an industrialist and a manufacturer. He added that he is the immediate past Commissioner for Industry in Abia State.

The nominee promised to hit the ground running in a bid to contribute his own quota to national development. He also vowed to serve the nation diligently if confirmed as a minister.


12:44 pm: The Senate President informed his colleagues that all seven nominees would be screened today.


12:43 pm: Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh from Abia State is the first nominee to take the stage for his screening.


12:40 pm: The nominees were ushered into the Senate chamber for their screening.

Details later…

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FG engages lawyers for Ekweremadu

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FG engages lawyers for Ekweremadu

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has disclosed that the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom has engaged the services of lawyers to defend the senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice.

Lawan made this known on Wednesday while giving details about the outcome of a closed session held by the upper chamber before the start of plenary proceedings.

The closed-door session which started at about 10:57 a.m ended at 11:49 a.m.

The Harmattan News reports Ekweremadu, alongside his wife, was arrested by the UK Metropolitan Police last Tuesday for conspiracy to harvest the organs of a minor.

Ekweremadu and his wife allegedly facilitated David’s entry into the UK to transplant his kidney into their daughter, Sonia, who is suffering from kidney failure.

The couple was arraigned at the Uxbridge Magistrate Court in London on charges of conspiracy and organ harvest on Thursday.

But speaking on Wednesday, Lawan said a delegation from its Committee on Foreign Affairs would depart Nigeria for London on July 1, 2022, to pay a visit to the embattled couple presently in detention over an allegation of organ harvesting.

This was contained in a statement by the Special Assistant (Press) to Lawan, Dr. Ezrel Tabiowo, titled, ‘Senate delegation to visit Ekweremadu, wife in London’.

According to Lawan, the decision to wade into Ekweremadu’s arrest and detention was against the backdrop of a briefing received by the Nigerian High Commissioner to London.

He further disclosed that the Senate would engage the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian High Commission in London on the recent arrest of Senator Ike Ekweremadu by the London Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom.

He said, “I had a personal engagement with our Nigerian High Commissioner to Britain, Alhaji Isola Sarafa, who has done so well to establish contact with our colleague, who has been able to get his team to be in the court at Uxbridge where Ekweremadu was taken to.

“The high Commission has also been able to provide some consular services that include the engagement of some lawyers who will defend our colleague.

“We commend them for giving attention to the issue at stake. Equally, the Nigeria Foreign Affairs Minister has been engaged here, so that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes steps to provide diplomatic support for our colleague.

“Because this issue is already in court, we have limited opportunity to discuss beyond what we have done so far.

“But I want to ensure the family of our colleague, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Nigerians, that the Senate will continue to engage with our ministry of foreign affairs as well as our high commission in London.

“The High Commission has done so much but we still expect that it will continue to provide any other further consular services.

“We have also mandated our committee on foreign affairs to engage with the British high commission here in Nigeria, to find more details on this case, as as far as the high commission is involved.

“There will be a delegation to London to see Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife. A delegation from the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate will leave in the next two days to London for that purpose.

“I want to urge all federal government institutions that can do anything to ensure that justice prevails in this case, that they do so.”

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