9jadiaspora news items

CCT trial: S’Court adjourns Saraki’s, FG’s appeals

THE PUNCH - 11 min 15 sec ago

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the appeal by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the cross-appeal filed by the Federal Government in connection with Saraki’s trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The Justice Tanko Muhammad-led five-man panel of the apex court said, while adjourning the case on Wednesday, that a fresh hearing date might be fixed for next week.

“We may give you another date for next week, we may not,” Justice Muhammed.

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal in its judgment delivered on December 12, 2017 restored three out of the 18 counts of false assets declaration earlier dismissed by the Danladi Umar-led CCT in June 2017.

Saraki subsequently filed seven grounds notice of appeal before the Supreme Court against the part of the Court of Appeal’s judgment which restored the three counts.

The Federal Government also filed a cross-appeal of 15 grounds before the apex court against the part of the judgment which affirmed the dismissal of the 15 counts.

Both the appellants and the cross-appellant had filed separate motions for the regularisation of their separate briefs of arguments before the apex court.

Saraki, by the motion filed through his counsel, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), sought to replace his brief of argument with a fresh one.

On its part, the Federal Government by its motion filed through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), sought an extension of time within which it brief of argument in its cross-appeal, although already filed, would be deemed to have been properly filed.

The Wednesday’s proceedings were for the hearing of the motions.

But as soon as the proceedings started, Justice Muhammad who led the five-man panel of the apex court queried why the Federal Government’s lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), did not exhibit the June 14, 2017 judgment of the CCT which had dismissed the entire 18 counts preferred against Saraki.

In response, Jacobs explained that he did not bother to exhibit the CCT’s judgment because it was already part of the records before the court.

But Justice Tanko disagreed with Jacobs’ explanation insisting that the lawyer’s failure to exhibit the CCT’s judgment would render the motion incompetent.

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Will redenominating the naira improve its value?

THE PUNCH - 27 min 55 sec ago

The answer to this question is no. We shouldn’t give the naira artificial value, it would be counterproductive. For developing countries to industrialise, they must undervalue their currencies so that, with time, it would discourage importation and encourage local production of goods. This in turn will create jobs with its attendant benefits to the economy.

You must have heard about the currency war between the United States of America and China. China systematically reduced the value of its currency so that imported goods will be more expensive than locally made ones. What is happening in Nigeria today is a blessing in disguise. The pressure on the naira is good but most importantly, I would advise that government should have a special exchange rate for those importing raw materials that add value to the economy; but allow the rest to go to the open market to source for their foreign exchange. Government must systematically make the unofficial exchange rate less attractive by ensuring that more naira exchanges for a few dollars. This will discourage the dumping of finished goods on Nigeria, it will encourage foreign manufacturers to come here to set up factories. It is simple economics, it sounds unbelievable but that is the truth. In 1478, King Henry VII of England made it difficult for finished goods from countries such as: Netherlands and Belgium to gain entry into England.

As lately as 1791, the United States Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, made it difficult for people to bring in finished British goods into the US and as lately as 1962, South Korea banned the import of finished goods, by 1980, China banned the importation of finished goods. Why is it that when it comes to our turn, people shout globalisation? Globalisation does not say countries must provide foreign exchange for importers.  •Odilim Enwegbara (Abuja-based Development Economist)

There is no economic theory that postulates that a country that redenominates its currency will reap certain gains. Redenomination of a currency is simply a symbolic reform without a guaranteed gain, although it gives the impression that inflation has been eliminated. The reality is that it does not guarantee inflation will not recur in future.

Look at some of the countries that have redenominated their currencies in the past, apart from, perhaps the portability of their currencies, they are still battling with the problem of inflation and inflation is what erodes the value of a currency.

Zimbabwe has redenominated the Zimbabwean Dollar three times in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Has it solved the inflationary problems in that country? Angola redenominated in 1995 because it had an inflation rate of over 2,000 per cent, Brazil did the same in 1995. Are these countries still not having inflationary problems? Ghana in 2007 redenominated the Ghana Cedis by almost 1000 basis points. The currency exchanged at 1cedi to US$1.20. But today US$1 is equal to approximately 5 Ghana Cedis. Inflation has crept in again to devalue the currency.

The point I am making is that, if the objective is to shore up the value of the naira, redenomination is not the answer. The benefit of redenomination as far as the value of a currency is concerned, is usually short-lived, if the fundamental instigators of inflation are not addressed.

Redenomination will make the naira more portable and perhaps, instigate the use of coins and a re-pricing of consumer products but what will ensure a sustained improvement in the value of the currency is a commitment to enhancing the fundamentals of the economy which will by default tame inflation and stabilise the value of the currency.

We all know these variables. They include: increasing local production of goods and services, reducing importation and diversifying the revenue base of the country by exporting finished goods.

As long as the structure of the economy leans more on oil production and as long as we continue to export only the crude and refuse to refine for local consumption, we will continue to battle with the pressure caused by fluctuating international prices of crude oil. • Buchi Ejiogu (Economist/Public Affairs Analyst)

Redenominating the naira will have no positive effect on the value of our currency. It does make sense to recalibrate a currency in response to hyper inflation and low value of a currency. These pre-conditions have not been met in the case of Nigeria. Inflation is beating a retreat and the exchange rate has stabilised.

Moreover, following increasing reserves, the Central Bank of Nigeria is in a stronger position now to defend the naira.

Redenomination will only involve changing the face value of the naira. The price level or the purchasing power of the naira will be positively impacted by improved productivity. •Dr. Uche Uwaleke (Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University)

Currency redenomination is a sign of hyper-inflation. It will facilitate portability no doubt, but it is more likely to be expensive, cost-wise. It is not a check on inflation and does not make the currency stronger.

The value of a currency is dependent on market forces of demand and supply and not on redenomination. Redenomination basically has no effect on the value of a nation’s currency.

With respect to commerce, the economy is still not fully cashless. We still do a lot of cash transactions. Thus in terms of portability, the buyer is “psychologically convenient” whereas, the seller is “psychologically dazed.”

Instead of pursuing redenomination, the Federal Government should rather encourage increased production of goods and services which will boost the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Agriculture and industrialisation are key sectors needed to boost GDP and commerce.

The Organised private sector and corporate organisations should complement government’s efforts in this regard. That is what we intend to achieve during our forthcoming 7th Kwara Trade Fair in March/April. The fair is intended to showcase the productive ingenuity of Nigerians and commerce at its utmost. So, we hope our participants will be “psychologically convenient” while our exhibitors, traders, and others will hopefully not be “psychologically dazed”.

With the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government to reduce inflation, the issue of currency redenomination should no longer be on the front burner. •Mr. Olalekan Ayodimeji (Deputy President, Kwara Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture)

The straight answer is yes, it would sound as if this is an action based on government fiat which is not determined by market forces. Beyond such a fiat will be the question of sustainability. If a country increases the value of its currency by fiat, that is, without considering the fundamentals of her economy while still operating in the global market environment, such a country hurts her economy in the medium and in the long run.

Improving the value of the country’s currency implies that your export will now be more expensive. Note that as your export increases, the chase after your local currency increases. Will the chase now improve the export of our agricultural products without any change in other fundamentals?

If Nigeria remains a mono economy based on oil exports as before, such a policy decision may work because importers do not demand for our local currency to buy our oil. So, you can set any price for your currency and the market will not care. The reason being that, they will demand for your currency to buy your goods and Nigerians will not use the naira to import.

For me, such a policy is not desirable for a nation like Nigeria which seeks to be a big player in the global market. •Prof. Chris Ekong (Department of Economics, University of Uyo)

Redenominating the naira will technically make no difference in terms of value. As for cost effectiveness of printing the currency, it will save the Central Bank of Nigeria a lot of money as the quantity to be produced would have been reduced by the extent of value of redenomination.

However, given the distortions inherent in developing economies like ours, redenomination of the naira to give it a higher value can be susceptible to elevated inflation with negative consequences on prices of goods and services in the face of constant supply.

It can also support corruption in terms of capacity to seamlessly handle large amount of naira in higher denomination. •Mr. Rislanudeen Mohammed (Managing Director, Safmur Investments Ltd.)

  • Compiled by: Success Nwogu, Simon Utebor, Etim Ekpimah and Ifeanyi Onuba

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LASG urges demolished buildings’ owners to seek compensation

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:59

Sesan Olufowobi

The Lagos State Government has appealed to owners of structures demolished for the reconstruction of road projects in the state to submit the relevant documents for the processing of compensation.

The government added that early submission would enable it to fulfil its obligations to the affected owners.

The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye, on Wednesday listed the areas where the projects were located as Igbe/Igbogbo/Bola Ahmed Tinubu Road and Agric Isawo Road, both in the Ikorodu Local Government Area; Agege Pen Cinema and adjoining roads in the Agege LGA, as well as the Murtala Muhammed Airport Road in the Oshodi-Isolo LGA.

Ogunleye said, “The Lagos State Government is collating and assessing the documents of those that have submitted, but it has been observed that some have yet to submit their documents.

“We are concerned that affected property owners along Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road in particular have not turned in their documents. We are therefore appealing to all that have yet to submit their documents in any of the project areas to do so immediately so that we can process the payment of compensation quickly.”

Ogunleye listed the documents to be submitted as certified registered title document of property, approved building plan permit and proof of ownership.

He said, “The documents should be submitted to the office of the Commissioner, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development in Alausa, Ikeja.”

He appealed to Lagosains to continue to support the efforts of the state government, saying the massive infrastructural development taking place in various parts of the state was in line with the vision of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration to create a safe, habitable, tourism-friendly environment.

He added that the government appreciated the cooperation demonstrated by the people so far and appealed for continued support until the road projects were delivered for public use.

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Court declares daytime Oro festival illegal

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:57

Samuel Awoyinfa, Abeokuta

An Ogun State High Court sitting in the Ipokia Local Government Area of the state has declared as illegal the imposition of a curfew in daytime on the people of Ipokia by Oro cult.

The court further declared that Oro festival or ritual could only be carried out between midnight and 4am, subject to approval by the relevant authorities.

The court also held that the participants would be required to write an undertaking to keep the peace during the festival.

While delivering judgment in a suit filed by the Christian Association of Nigeria and Muslim Community in Ipokia against Oro festival, Justice Sikiru Owodunni, ordered  that Oro worshippers had no constitutional authority to impose curfew on residents of Ipokia, Idi-Iroko, Ihunbo, Ifonyintedo, Ogosa, Koko, Ilashe, Ibatefin, Agosasa, Oniru, Mede, Ajegunle and other  villages in the area at daytime.

The counsel for the applicants, Kayode Samson and David Folalu, had told the court that the respondents used to perform the Oro festival in the bush and in the middle of the night, claiming that women and men who did not belong to the cult were not permitted to see Oro.

They further complained that the respondents began to extend the celebration into the main part of the communities, therefore, declaring and imposing daytime curfew for the purpose of the celebration.

Samson said, “When the Oro festival is on, women and men who do not belong to the cult are compelled to stay indoors, while businesses, churches, mosques, government parastatals, schools and public places are also compelled to be closed down, thereby, depriving the applicants of their freedom of movement and lawful assembly.”

Owodunni, in his judgment, gave a perpetual injunction restraining “the respondents, their privies, agents and cohorts from declaring or imposing a daytime curfew or in any manner interfering with the fundamental rights of the applicants to freedom of movement.”

He ruled, “It is hereby declared that Oro festival or ritual can only be celebrated in Ipokia, Idi-Iroko, Ihunbo, Ifonyintedo, Ogosa, Koko, Ilashe, Ibatefin, Agosasa, Oniru, Mede and Ajegunle and other villages between the hours of midnight and 4am, subject to  the government approval and undertaking to maintain peace.”

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Psychological effects of balding

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:52

Ayo Otubanjo

Baldness can have a significant traumatising effect on our lives.  People experiencing hair loss sometimes exhibit certain psychological and emotional symptoms, which are related to how they perceive themselves and how they think other people perceive them. Many people are able to reconcile themselves to a life of hair loss or baldness, but others may develop serious psychological conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

In all our clinics worldwide, our consultants are trained in identifying clients who might be suffering psychological effects from their hair loss issues. These effects are not brushed off or dismissed as self-pity or loathing, but they are taken seriously and addressed during the free consultation we offer our clients. In the most extreme cases, clients are referred to specialist psychologists or therapists for professional assessment and help.

Hair loss certainly has an effect on how people look. A receding hairline results in the person looking older than they really are. This dramatically affects the way they see themselves with potentially a resulting loss in self confidence. I have consulted with young men in their early 20s with receding hairlines or baldness and have heard numerous stories such as their lack of confidence in approaching the opposite sex. In one particular case, the young man said he was fed up with other people mistaking him for his girlfriend’s father!

Women, in particular, have been known to have a more difficult time adjusting to hair loss. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that women suffered more emotionally and mentally, and were more likely to develop a negative body image due to hair loss when compared to men who were dealing with the same issue. On the other hand, almost 75 per cent of men feel less confident about themselves with the onset of hair loss, while  60 per cent of men with hair loss say that they have been ridiculed for their baldness at some point in their lives.

Because our hair is our crowning glory and such a defining feature, it can affect the way we are perceived and how we perform in the workplace. For example, hair loss can have a profound effect on someone who works in front of the camera such as in the media, or someone who is constantly in the public eye. Studies have shown that some employers are unfortunately swayed against hiring people who are balding, because they are perceived as being older and might not necessarily fit in with their company’s brand or image. According to some surveys, about 63 per cent of women claim to have career-related problems because of hair loss.

While some people are able to tolerate their hair loss, others may encounter difficulties dealing with it and may enter into chronic depression as a result. Research and surveys show that people who experience hair loss often feel as though they are losing control over their lives. They despair that their hair loss is irreversible, and have high levels of anxiety. In addition, people who already suffer from disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder are further aggravated by the onset of hair loss.

The good news for anyone suffering from hair loss is that a solution is readily available in many forms. No longer should anyone accept baldness or hair loss as inevitable because of their family history or any other reasons. Genetically linked baldness and other forms of hair loss can be prevented or reversed through medication or surgical procedures.

There are now clinical centres in Nigeria, specifically set up for hair loss restoration at Vinci Hair Clinic in Lagos and Abuja clinics

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‘Diet can influence spread of breast cancer’

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:50

A single protein building block commonly found in food may hold a key to preventing the spread of an often-deadly type of breast cancer, according to a new multicenter study published today in the medical journal Nature.

Investigators found that by limiting an amino acid called asparagine in laboratory mice with triple-negative breast cancer, they could dramatically reduce the ability of the cancer to travel to distant sites in the body. Among other techniques, the team used dietary restrictions to limit asparagine.

Foods rich in asparagine include dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains. Foods low in asparagine include most fruits and vegetables.

“Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease,” said Simon Knott, PhD, associate director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at Cedars-Sinai and one of two first authors of the study. The research was conducted at more than a dozen institutions.

If further research confirms the findings in human cells, limiting the amount of asparagine cancer patients ingest could be a potential strategy to augment existing therapies and to prevent the spread of breast cancer, Knott added.

The researchers studied triple-negative breast cancer cells, which grow and spread faster than most other types of cancer cells. It is called triple negative because it lacks receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and makes little of a protein called HER2. As a result, it resists common treatments — which target these factors and has a higher-than-average mortality rate.

Research from past studies found that most tumor cells remain in the primary breast site, but a subset of cells leaves the breast and enters the bloodstream. Those cells colonize in the lungs, brain and liver, where they proliferate. The study team wanted to understand the particular traits of the tumor cells circulating in the blood and in the sites where the cancer has spread.

The researchers discovered that the appearance of asparagine synthetase — the enzyme cells used to make asparagine — in a primary tumor was strongly associated with later cancer spread.

Letter to Edo Speaker

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:47

You will agree with me that in the last few years, the incessant killings and maiming of farmers, raping of women and girls in their farms and communities by herdsmen have reached an endemic proportion.

These attacks are provoked as herdsmen and their cattle invade the farms and ravage the farm produce, including cassava, yam and plantain which are the staple as well as economic lifeline of the farmers.

We cannot stand by in the knowledge that the government’s vexatious policy on ban on night grazing is inadequate, not well-thought-out and as a result, a complete failure. Consequently, we have, after due consultation with critical stakeholders, the civil society and farmers, instructed our members in the state House of Assembly to present a bill titled, “A bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches and livestock administration, regulation and control and for other matters connected therewith 2018”.

We believe when passed into law, it will prevent the destruction of farms and farm produce as well as protect lives and property of farmers, their wives and children occasioned by open grazing.

We urge you to treat this with the utmost urgency it deserves.

Together, we look forward to building a strong, safe and prosperous Edo State.

Chief Dan Osi Orbih,

Chairman PDP, Edo State

State police or what?

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:46

This call for the adoption of state police by all sundry is a mere political clamour. The constitution has not prevented any state government from establishing its own security outfits like the Neighborhood Watch. The constitution only prevents the states from equipping these security outfits with arms and ammunition which only the National Assembly can do. And until this relevant provision in the constitution is amended, we are only pretending when we call for “state police”.

The so-called “restructuring” of which the “state police” should be an offshoot, can be done piecemeal by amendment to the Exclusive and Concurrent Legislative Lists of the constitution, rather than going the long hug of drawing up a new constitution as is the clamour now.

If we cannot amend these two schedules with easy, then forget about the new constitution clamour.

Gabriel Ipheghe,

206 Road, FESTAC Town,

Lagos State, +23480229204

Voter card validation

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:45

The need for voter card validation observers across the country is informed by the recent discovery of underage children who took part in Kano State local government election.

The incidence of underage voters is worrisome as it is against the Electoral Act especially as we prepare for the 2019 general elections. With the ongoing voter registration, we should have accredited observers drawn from local and international bodies to monitor the exercise as well as the validation of previous voter cards. These are pre-2019 general election checks and balances. It will enable us to know ahead where to solve these emerging Electoral Act violations across the country. If we think the Independent National Electoral Commission can handle these emerging issues alone before election proper next year, we are deceiving ourselves!

Therefore, the National Assembly as well as the Presidency should rise up to the current underage voter issue, to ensure that voters’ validation is witnessed by chosen observers and of course INEC officials conducting the process.

The earlier, the better for Nigerians.

Ogbaki Fidelis,

Challenge, Ibadan, Oyo State,

+23481310100

Fuss over sequence of elections

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:42

What’s in a sequence of elections? You wonder! The furore in the Senate on this gave cause for concern. But, the defunct National Party of Nigeria, in the Second Republic, reversed the earlier sequence of voting, introduced by the outgone military regime. The presidential election was moved upfront from the rear. The result created a bandwagon effects on subsequent elections, thus resulting in landslide/moonslide effects!

This landmark pattern became a benchmark for measuring electoral indices in Nigeria. This is the crux of the rumpus in the Senate.

It is much ado about nothing. A storm in the tea cup! It is self-serving and has no love of nation at heart. Any issue relating to the well-being of the masses never receives attention. They luxuriate while the masses groan in abject poverty. A case of, “Nero fiddles, while Rome burns”!

Chief Imam Taofeek Sanni,

Trade Fair Complex Central Mosque,

Lagos State, +23470669784

Trump’s plan for the Kurds

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:41

If there is a Nobel Prize for Absolute Bluntness, there would be no beating President Donald Trump to it. In the Middle East, it is a fact that the Kurds are a people who have fared badly at the hands of their Arab and non-Arab compatriots; the Kurds are dispersed far afield in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran where they have become veritable second-rate citizens. Interestingly, the Kurds hold Israel and the Jews in high esteem. If there were a Kurdistan Republic today, Israel would have a great ally and a stronger foothold in the Middle East. Now, enters Jared Kushner, the most powerful Jew alive today (Mr. Kushner is the son-in-law of President Donald Trump); credit to young Kushner for the Trump Jerusalem Declaration.

 Kushner can go further to press for a Kurdistan Republic so as to further strengthen Israel’s interests. We are witnessing what looks like that “pressing” in the creation of a Border Defence Force, under the auspices of the United States, that would be made up of predominantly ethnic Kurds just inside the buffer zone between Syria and Turkey.

The former anti-ISIS militia would be turned into a standing army that will control a huge chunk of territory favourable to the Kurds. This action is just the right precipitation for the nucleus of a future Kurdistan Republic and, expectedly, Turkey has blasted this move by the Trump administration.

Sunday Adole Jonah,

Department of Physics,

Federal University of Technology,

Minna, Niger State

Dana plane damaged navigational equipment at PH airport – FG

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:39

Ifeanyi Onuba and Okechukwu Nnodim

The Dana Air plane that overshot the runway at the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers State on Tuesday damaged navigational equipment at the airport, the Federal Government announced on Wednesday.

According to the government, the MD83 aircraft, with registration number 5N-SRI and flight number 0348, had 54 souls on board, including five crew members.

It also stated that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had heightened safety oversight on the airline, adding that the Accident Investigation Bureau had commenced investigation into the incident in accordance with the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The Deputy Director of Press and Public Affairs at the Aviation arm of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, James Odaudu, stated that the Port Harcourt airport was briefly closed for safety reasons after the incident occurred.

Odaudu noted that the airport was “reopened after proper assessment this morning (Wednesday).”

In a statement issued in Abuja, Odaudu said, “Damage to the aircraft (was) substantial with damage to ground navigation equipment.

“Meanwhile, the Accident Investigation Bureau has commenced investigation in accordance with ICAO Annex 13, while the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has heightened safety oversight over the operator.”

The ministry stated that the aircraft, which landed at the Port Harcourt Runway 21 and overran the runway, had its entire passengers and crew members evacuated safely without any casualty.

On the weather condition at the time of the incident, the ministry added that there was heavy rainfall.

It said, “However, efforts are in place to continuously enhance safety and security in our industry in accordance with the reformation agenda of the Buhari administration for the aviation sector.

“The ministry sympathises with the passengers on the aircraft over the traumatic experience and assures that the government will not abdicate on its commitment to the safety and security of lives and property in the Nigerian airspace.”

Meanwhile, the Consumer Protection Council has called for better treatment of those involved in the Dana Air incident in Port Harcourt.

The CPC said in a statement that while all passengers and crew were safely evacuated without injuries, there was a need for thorough investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

The statement read in part, “The Consumer Protection Council congratulates relevant airport and aviation authorities as well as the airline for this safe evacuation and management of what could otherwise have been tragic.

“The Council further calls for calm as we await more information and a detailed investigation by the Accident Investigation Bureau in compliance with ICAO standards.

“In addition, the council has been in communication with the airline and the NCAA. The council understands that Dana Air has provided logistic support and accommodation to passengers. The council insists that this must comply with minimum standards in accordance with prevailing regulations under Part 19, Nigerian Civil Aviation Rules.”

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Buhari warns ECOWAS against hasty single currency implementation

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:37

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has warned member countries of the Economic Community of West African States against hasty implementation of the single currency programme being planned for the sub-region by 2020.

He issued the warning on Tuesday during the fifth meeting of the Presidential Task Force on the ECOWAS Currency Programme in Accra, Ghana

Buhari was represented by the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, according to a statement by the bank.

He noted that the Heads of Government had not properly articulated and analysed a comprehensive picture of the state of preparedness of individual countries for monetary integration by 2020.

The President warned that the non-preparedness of some member countries, the attempt to water down criteria and the continued disparities between macroeconomic conditions in ECOWAS countries were major challenges to the implementation of the monetary convergence programme.

He said while all these had continued to be major issues of concern, there was a need for members to evaluate the challenges in view of the current economic realities.

Buhari observed that ECOWAS Heads of Government had not been adequately briefed on the full implications of forcing through the integration by 2020, particularly as some countries were not individually ready domestically.

While pointing out that there were still outstanding issues in the road map to an integrated currency union, the President noted that the macroeconomic fundamentals of many countries in ECOWAS were diverse and uncertain.

He also noted that the inflation targeting regime recommended as a framework was not feasible as it was based on the adoption of a flexible exchange rate policy.

Buhari also noted that real convergence of macroeconomic variables were far from being achieved despite efforts made so far.

The President, therefore, called for a push towards ratification and domestication of legal instruments and related protocols.

He added that there was a need for the harmonisation of all fiscal, trade and monetary policies as well as statistical systems, so as to limit the extent of current policy divergences.

He also advised the West African Economic and Monetary Union countries to make a presentation on a clear road map towards delinking from the French Treasury.

Buhari, according to the statement, also called for the establishment of an ombudsman with powers to invoke sanctions when member countries were in breach of agreed standards, protocols and convergence criteria.

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Champions League: De Gea saves Manchester United against Sevilla

PREMIUM TIMES NIGERIA - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:17

A stunning first-half save by the Spaniard helped Manchester United earn a goalless draw.‎

The post Champions League: De Gea saves Manchester United against Sevilla appeared first on Premium Times Nigeria.

Oil installations still under threat, says NIMASA

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:08

Olaleye Aluko, Abuja

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has said that oil and gas installations in the country are daily confronted by diverse threats and that security agencies must come together to protect the maritime domain.

The Director-General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said this in Abuja on Wednesday at a quarterly meeting and workshop on National Counter Terrorism Strategy Secure Pillar.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser and NIMASA.

Peterside said the shipping industry as well as oil and gas installations were important sources of income for the growth of the country’s economy, noting that identified threats included piracy, illegal bunkering and terrorism.

He stated, “Every effort in the fight against terrorism goes a long way in the overall success of our counter terrorism strategy. Besides our economic challenges, the next hard challenge for our nation is the issue of security and terrorism. There is a need for strong synergy and collaboration among security agencies in the war against terrorism and insecurity.

“For us in NIMASA, we shall continue to collaborate with the ONSA for capacity building in maritime security. The shipping industry and oil and gas installations are confronted daily by diverse threats. Piracy, illegal bunkering and terrorism are also known threats. The expanse of Nigeria’s maritime area compares to about one-third of Nigeria’s total land area.”

The NSA, Maj-.Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), said the workshop would help to fight criminalities and secure the maritime sector.

He stated, “The counter- terrorism strategy is a crucial collaboration towards achieving the desired objectives of securing our nation against terrorist groups and other criminalities. It is in this light that we partner NIMASA to implement the counter terrorism strategy through the five pillars of forestall, secure, identify, prepare and implement.”

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Intels decides revenue sharing formula with FG – NPA

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:07

John Ameh, Abuja

The House of Representatives heard on Wednesday that the revenue collection contract between the Nigerian Ports Authority and Integrated Logistics Services Limited hugely favoured the latter such that the firm determined the Federal Government’s share.

The NPA and Intels signed a two-legged agreement in 2010 allowing the firm to collect revenue on behalf of the Federal Government agency on some port operations.

The Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, told an ad hoc committee of the House in Abuja that the agreement was silent on the sharing formula of the revenue generated by the firm.

She stated this left Intels with the power to decide how much it would remit to the Federal Government from any available balance after it had taken a percentage for its services.

The committee, which is chaired by the Deputy Whip of the House, Mr. Pally Iriase, is investigating the circumstances leading to the termination of the contract last year.

Bala-Usman told the committee that the agreement she met on assuming duties at the NPA in 2016 allowed Intels to take 28 per cent of the generated revenue for its services.

She added that the balance of 72 per cent would later be shared between the NPA and Intels.

However, she explained that it was Intels that decided how much should go to the NPA from the 72 per cent, as the contract was silent on that.

She stated, “The agreement was silent on this aspect. There was nothing suggesting how the balance would be shared.

“So, this gave Intels the power to decide what share to leave for the government and so on.”

The NPA MD recalled that up to 2013, the average monthly remittance by Intels was $3m.

She added that the remittance rose to $5.6m in 2014 after some negotiations and later dropped to $4m in subsequent years.

However, Bala-Usman informed the committee that a dispute arose between the NPA and Intels in June 2016 after the firm declined to comply with the Treasury Single Account policy of the government.

She said the NPA communicated the government’s decision to have all public revenues paid into a central account following which invoices would be issued for Intels to be reimbursed.

She added, “But, Intels declined and chose to continue to keep the revenue. In May 2017, we sought the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation (Abubakar Malami), who appropriately advised that Intels must comply with the TSA policy or the contract should be terminated.

“Based on the advice of the AGF, a notice of termination was issued to Intels.”

However, she admitted that following the face-off, Intels later apologised to the NPA and agreed to comply with the TSA policy.

“So, since September 2017, Intels started complying with the policy, though we have not received the advice of the AGF on the withdrawal of the termination. But, they have been complying since September 2017. Between 2016 and 2017, Intels had collected $48m,” she added.

Out of the money, Bala-Usman said the NPA confirmed the remittance of $28.1m into the TSA, while another payment of $14.5m reported by Intels had yet to be confirmed.

According to the MD, both the NPA and Intels would have to do some reconciliation to clarify whether the two payments came from the $48m or from other sources.

Although, the lawmakers acknowledged that compliance with the TSA policy was important, they noted that the manner in which the NPA applied it to Intels was arbitrary, as it sought to ignore an existing agreement.

However, they criticised those who drafted the agreement for allowing Intels to get away with so much.

Commenting on the unfavourable nature of the agreement, Iriase noted, “Nigeria is worse off with this type of arrangement.”

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Modular refineries: FG contacts IFC, CBN for funding

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:06

Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

The Federal Government on Wednesday said it had commenced talks with financial institutions in order to provide funds for investors who were interested in investing in modular refineries.

It stated that it was in talks with a number of potential financiers like the Central Bank of Nigeria, International Finance Corporation and Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority in order to support private investment in modular refineries.

The Senior Technical Adviser to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Rabiu Suleiman, disclosed this at the ongoing Nigeria International Petroleum Summit in Abuja, noting that the Federal Government would also guarantee regular crude oil supply to modular refinery investors.

According to him, this will be in addition to tax and Customs duty waivers, which the investors will also enjoy from the government to ensure that their projects take off and remain profitable.

In November 2017, the Federal Government stated that it was considering granting 13 operational licences for modular refineries in the Niger Delta.

Suleiman said, “We have a lot of programmes that will support modular refining initiative and a lot of incentives have been put together to support this initiative, right from Customs duty waivers. Anybody who wants to invest in modular refining in the Niger Delta is going to benefit from such Customs duty waivers and tax reliefs that are being discussed at very senior level and we have reached a very serious level and that is going to happen.

“On financing, we have engaged the government; the central bank; we have engaged the Bank of Industry; we have engaged Sovereign Wealth Fund; we have engaged The Infrastructure Bank. We have engaged a lot of them, including the IFC and the rest.

“We have all worked with them and they all promised to make contributory finance into that. Only two weeks ago, we engaged with the NDDC the MD made a commitment that they were going to see how they could put in some money even if it means to pick up an equity in one or two or three of the refineries.

“State governments have said they want to be a part. So, we are encouraging a lot of financing. In the next two weeks, we intend to call for an investors’ engagement forum that will address some of the funding arrangements that we intend to bring on board.”

Suleiman stated that crude oil supply to the marginal refineries was more or less guaranteed, adding that refiners in Nigeria should not be denied the commodity when they start operating.

“The crude is for sale; we take it offshore to sell; there is no justification why crude should not be made available to the refiners in-country. Today, we have already issued a letter to one of the proponents of the modular refineries and we directed ExxonMobil to guarantee crude supply to that refinery because it is in close proximity to Mobil in Eket,” he added.

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Nigeria earned N972.3bn from VAT in 2017 – NBS

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:06

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday released the sectoral report for Value Added Tax for the 2017 fiscal period, stating that the country generated a total of N972.34bn from VAT.

An analysis of the VAT report showed that the amount was collected from 28 sectoral activities during the period under review.

A breakdown of the amount showed that the sum of N204.77bn was generated in the first quarter, while the second third and fourth quarters recorded N246.3bn, N250.56bn and N254.1bn, respectively.

In the report signed by the Statistician General of the Federation and Chief Executive, NBS, Dr. Yemi Kale, the bureau said the manufacturing sector generated the highest amount of VAT revenue at N119bn.

This was closely followed by the professional services sector with N87bn.

On the other hand, the report stated that the mining sector generated the least VAT revenue of N168m in the one-year period.

The report read in part, “Sectoral distribution of VAT data for Q4 reflected that the sum of N254.1bn was generated as VAT in Q4 as against N250.56bn in Q3 and N207.35bn in Q4 2016, representing 1.41 per cent increase quarter-on-quarter and 22.55 per cent increase year-on-year.

“Other manufacturing generated the highest amount of VAT with N28.19bn, and closely followed by professional services and commercial reading, both generating N22.34bn and N12.87bn, respectively, while mining generated the least with N32.5m.

“Out of the total amount generated in Q4 2017, N121.09bn was generated as non-import VAT locally, while N79.44bn was generated as non-import VAT for foreign. The balance of N53.57bn was generated as Nigeria Customs Service import VAT.”

The framework under which VAT is administered allows the Federal Government to get 15 per cent of the revenue, while the states and local governments receive 50 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had said that 55 per cent of the revenue generated by the Federal Government from VAT receipts was being collected from Lagos State.

Adeosun, had during a meeting with the Progressive Governors’ Forum, explained that the balance of 45 per cent was being generated from the remaining 35 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

Giving a breakdown of the receipts from VAT, she said while Lagos accounted for 55 per cent of the revenue, 20 per cent was coming from the FCT.

She added that Rivers, Kano and Kaduna accounted for six per cent, five per cent and one per cent of VAT collection, respectively.

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AEDC donates ferry to River Niger community

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:06

Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

The management of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company has handed over a 46-tonne ferry with worth about N8m to the people of Idah in Kogi State in order to ease movement of passengers and goods to various parts of the country through the River Niger.

The AEDC also donated 300 life vests to enhance the safety of commuters who will use the facility.

The Chairman, Board of Directors, AEDC, Shehu Malami, while handing over the boat and safety vests to the Kogi State Deputy Governor, Simon Achuba, during a ceremony at the harbour in Idah, explained that the company provided the ferry for use particularly by market women in the community.

He stated that the boat would also serve other commuters travelling on the river between Idah and Agenebode in Edo State, as well as between Idah and other parts of the country.

In a statement issued by the company’s Head of Corporate Communications, Oyebode Fadipe, the AEDC chairman said the gesture was part of the AEDC’s corporate social responsibility projects meant to underscore its willingness to support communities within its franchise area.

He outlined the firm’s franchise area to include Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

Malami said, “Electricity, no doubt, is very important for human comfort and development. But of greater importance to us in the AEDC Plc is the safety of people who use the electricity to power their homes, offices, industries and other cottage businesses for socio-economic development.

 “As a socially responsible corporate citizen, therefore, AEDC Plc holds itself not just accountable for the safe use of electricity by its customers but to also contribute to the well-being of the customers within its franchise area.”

The AEDC board chairman advised the people of Idah to make optimum use of the facilities and ensure their sustainability, just as he urged them to reciprocate the good gesture by paying their bills and protecting the power facilities in their domain.

In his address, Achuba, who received the items on behalf of the state government, thanked the AEDC for the donation, stating that they would enhance the safety of travellers and reduce travel time.

“Most importantly for us, this gesture by the AEDC is a greater boost to the Kogi State Government’s current efforts to attract investments into our state,” he said.

He assure his guests that the boat and other items would be put to judicious use and stated that transport fares by the ferry would be highly subsidised to make it affordable for the people.

Achuba, however, used the opportunity to warn other boat operators in the area against any act of sabotage.

“I want to warn all those who would want to thwart this effort, especially other operators who don’t want competition, that the state government will not take it lightly with them,” he said.

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Naira records marginal gain, closes at 362/dollar

THE PUNCH - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:05

Oyetunji Abioye

The naira closed at 362 per United States dollar at the parallel market on Wednesday, two days after the Central Bank of Nigeria injected $210m into the foreign exchange market.

The local unit had closed at 363/dollar on Tuesday.

The naira has been trading between 360 and 363 in recent weeks as the CBN continues to intervene in the market once or twice on weekly basis.

The regulator had injected over $500m into the forex market between penultimate Friday and last Monday.

 Analysts have said that the naira is likely to remain stable against the greenback   this week as demand for the US currency weakens whenever the unit trades below 360 per dollar.

Foreign exchange traders said most forex users were not willing to source dollars weaker than N360 at the Investors & Exporters FX window and that offshore investors had been buying local debt in search of yields, boosting liquidity on the currency market, Reuters reported.

On the official market, the naira was quoted at 305.70, supported by the CBN’s regular intervention.

Meanwhile, figures obtained from the CBN indicated that out of the last intervention, it offered $100m to authorised dealers in the wholesale segment of the market, while the Small and Medium Enterprises segment received the sum of $55m.

Customers requiring foreign exchange for invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance, among others, were also allocated the sum of $55m.

The bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, confirmed the figures, adding that those who made bids in the wholesale window would receive value for the bids on Tuesday.

 Okorafor reassured the public that the bank would continue to intervene in the interbank foreign exchange market in line with its quest to sustain liquidity in the market and maintain stability.

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