Soludo, Utomi, Others Call For Nnamdi Kanu’s Release

Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB, Chukwuma Soludo, Pat UtomiA former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, and Professor Pat Utomi, are demanding the immediate release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Both men spoke on Tuesday at a media briefing in Abuja under the aegis of the Nzuko Umunna, a group of Igbo professionals.

They also condemned the alleged killing of IPOB members in the southeast and urged states where the alleged killings took place to set up a panel of inquiry in their various states.

The call for Kanu’s release followed a series of protests, including that of members of the IPOB in Southeast Nigeria.

The pro-Biafra leader was arrested in Lagos on 14 October, 2015 and has been held in prison since then, despite various court orders that ruled for his release.

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja had declined to release the detainee on bail in his ruling in January 2016.

The court also denied bail to two other pro-Biafra agitators, Benjamin Madubugwu and David Nwawuisi, who are facing trial with Kanu.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had also called for his release, based on the court rulings which granted him bail on three occasions.

The National Chairman of APGA, Mr Victor Oye, asked the government to obey the rule of law in the prosecution of the case.

CBN Assures Nigerians Of Policies To Strengthen Naira

Naira, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Nigerians, Godwin EmefieleThe Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, says the apex bank will continue to come up with policies to strengthen the naira.

The CBN Governor added that he expects the naira to stabilise while inflationary pressure is expected to reduce.

He made the remarks on Tuesday at the first Monetary Policy Committee meeting for the year in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

At the meeting to evaluate the economy’s performance in the last quarter of 2016, Mr Emefiele gave an overview of the international market and how it has affected the domestic economy.

He noted that the apex bank would come up with policies to increase Nigeria’s foreign reserve which currently stands at $28.9 billion.

The apex bank governor also assured Nigerians of a more resilient economy in 2017 which he said would be driven by agriculture and diversification of the economy.

He added that the bank would make the foreign exchange available for manufacturers and other businesses.

Nigeria’s Apex Bank Boss, Emefiele Elected President Of AACB

Godwin_EmefieleThe Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been elected as the President of the Association of African Central Banks (AACB).

Mr Emefiele was elected at the 39th ordinary meeting of the Assembly of Governors of the AACB in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He succeeds Mr Lucas Nchama who is now the Governor of the Bank Of Central African States.

Mr Emefiele would be President of the AACB from 2016 to 2017.

The Governor of Central Bank of Burundi was elected Chairman of the East African sub-region while the Governor of the Central Bank of the Kingdom of Swaziland was elected Chairman of the Southern African sub-region.

Others elected are the Governor of the Bank of Ghana as Chairman of the West African sub-region and Governor of the Central Bank of Mauritania as Chairman of the North African sub-region.

Reading a communique at the end of the meeting, the new AACB President told the gathering that the nomination for the Vice Chairman of the AACB, which was zoned to the South African Sub-region, would be made known in due course.

The Assembly of Governors also chose: “Prospects for monetary integration in Africa: Lessons learned from the experience of monetary and financial integration of Europe,” as theme for the 2017 symposium.

The Assembly of Governors further stressed the necessity for African countries to diversify their economies and improve exports, while limiting imports.

They also emphasised the urgent need for coordination between monetary and fiscal policy across all African countries.

The Assembly further urged African countries to strengthen efforts at implementing structural reforms in order to diversify their respective economies, improve the business environment and promote intra-regional trade as a way of strengthening their resilience amidst external shocks.

The meeting was attended by 27 member Central Banks and the African Union Commission (AUC).

CBN Governor Tasks Youths On Local Production

CBN, Godwin Emefiele, Youths
CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has appealed to Nigeria youths to channel their energies towards the production of goods and services locally.

Mr Emefiele was speaking on Thursday at a meeting to kick start the pilot phase of the Youths Entrepreneurship Programme in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

As over 1,000 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are expected to benefit from the scheme, he said the programme would reduce the pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange.

The CBN Governor noted that the the National Bureau of Statistics put the recent unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2016 at 42%.

He expressed optimism that reverse could be the case if more youths gain financing that would help boost their businesses.

The Director General of the NYSC, Brigadier General Sule Kazaure, commended the development.

He explained that the CBN and the NYSC were seeking to address the inability of the young population to access knowledge on finance schemes that could help them develop and grow their businesses.

Falana Petitions EFCC On Abacha Loot

Abacha LootA Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate how $4 billion recovered from former military Head of State, General Sani Abacha was spent by the federal government.

The human rights activist wants the EFCC to specifically confirm the actual amount recovered from the Abacha loot and the extent of the alleged diversion of the said loot by former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki and others.

The Lagos lawyer, who made this request in a petition dated December 18, 2015, and which was sent to the anti-graft agency, said that “unless the Abacha loot is fully accounted for, the Buhari administration will find it difficult to receive the cooperation of many governments in the ongoing efforts to recover the stolen wealth of the country”.

He also said, “Following the death of the then military Head of State, General Sani Abacha on June 8, 1998, his successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar  ordered a  probe into the looting of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 1993-1998.

“At the end of the enquiry it was established that the late dictator stole about $5 billion from the vaults of the CBN through his National Security Adviser, Mr Mohammed Gwazo. A substantial part of the stolen fund has since been traced to over 140 bank accounts in western countries and some remote islands in the world.

“Based on the report of the investigations, the Federal Government recovered $635 million, £75 million, DM 30 million and N9 billion as well as several vehicles and properties in Abuja, Lagos and Kano together with 40% interests in West African Refinery in Sierra Leone.

“At page 495 of the second volume of  his book entitled  “My Watch” former President Obasanjo stated that “…by the time I left office in May 2009, over $2 billion and £100 million had been recovered from the Abacha family abroad, and well as  N10 billion in cash and properties locally.

“Under the Goodluck Jonathan Administration the recovery efforts continued and over $1 billion was recovered.

“But in a desperate bid to cover up the gross mismanagement and criminal diversion of the Abacha loot, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had repeatedly maintained that only $500 million had been recovered by the federal government.

“To lend credence to the fraudulent claim, the World Bank confirmed in a reply to an enquiry by SERAP that the $500 million recovered from the loot had been judiciously spent on some phantom development projects in several parts of the country.

“But following the recent revelation by the online tabloid, Premium Times that a substantial part of the loot had been criminally diverted, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has admitted that she transferred $322 million from the Abacha loot to former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki to prosecute the war on terror.

“Apart from the said sum of £322 million, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala also released £5.5 million pounds to Col. Dasuki.

“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala’s excuse that the said sum of $322 million was released due to the urgency of the crisis in the north east region is untenable having regards to the fact that former President Jonathan had sought the approval of the National Assembly to take a loan of $1 billion to equip the armed forces to fight insurgency.

“Therefore, the self-induced urgency created by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is not a justification for spending public funds without appropriation. It may interest you to know that the sum of $500 million allegedly spent on development projects was also not appropriated by the National Assembly.”

Federal Executive Council Meeting Postponed      

Executive Council The Federal Executive Council meeting earlier scheduled for Friday morning has been postponed till Monday, December 21.

Channels TV correspondent reports that most of the ministers had arrived before they were informed about the postponement.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told newsmen that the postponement was to allow the ministers reflect on some of the corrections made on the 2016 budget proposal during a meeting of the National Economic Council held on Thursday.

“We are being given time between now and Monday to go and rejig our figures because when the National Economic Council met yesterday, certain issues were thrown up which if not resolved will distort the entire budget proposal.

” So we are all going to get back on areas in which each ministry will go and do its own rejigging,” he said.

Abacha Loot: NEC Puts Figure At $26.4m And £19m

AbachaThe National Economic Council says the loots recovered from late General Sanni Abacha now stands at $26.4 million and £19 million as at November.

At the end of the Council meeting on Thursday, presided over by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, gave reporters the figures.

Earlier in the meeting the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, presented the figures.

Mr Idris said the dollar account, as at November 2015 ending, had a balance of $26.389 million while the pounds sterling account had a balance of £19. 033 million.

The Accountant General also reported to the Council that the ECA stood at $2.257 billion as at the end of November, 2015.

Also giving the Council an update on the nation’s economy, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, pointed out that the drop in oil price had put a serious pressure on the country’s reserve which currently stands at $29 billion.

He also put the interest on the account at $599 million.

The Minister of National Planning, Udo Udoma, also told reporters that his ministry had presented the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper, which highlight government’s fiscal policy strategy and direction for the next three years, to the Council.

He urged the states to adopt the MTEF and FSP which had now been approved by the national assembly.

Senate Dismisses Allegation Of Unremitted Fuel Subsidy Funds

SenateThe Nigerian Senate held a debate on the much anticipated report of a committee that looked into the alleged unremitted 49.8 billion dollars oil revenue.

After critically looking at the report, the Senate dismissed the allegation by the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), insisting that there was no such fund missing.

Many Nigerians will not forget in a hurry the drama that followed the allegation by the then CBN governor Mr Sanusi Lamido, now the Emir of Kano (Muhammed Sanusi II), that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit 49.8 billion dollars into the Federation Account.

The war of words between the NNPC and Mr Lamido was interesting to say the least with both camps trading blames and levelling accusations against each other.

The Senate waded into the controversy and asked its Committee on Finance to investigate the allegations made by Mr Sanusi Lamido.

The committee organised several public hearings, interviewing agencies and organisations that may have had dealings with the NNPC during the period and later came out with its report which has been in the public sphere for some time now.

The chairman of the finance committee, Senator Ahmed Markarfi,  gave details of the investigation at plenary.

He said there was never any unremitted 49.8 billion dollars and the committee did not see how the CBN governor arrived at the figure of 49.8 billion dollars in the first place.

The committee observed that that there was lack of proper and adequate coordination between the key government agencies such as CBN, NNPC, ministries of Finance and Petroleum, FIRS and DPR.

Lawmakers then debated the report, but the debate got off on a rocky start.

The committee in the report recommended that the subsidy regime be totally abolished.

But this recommendation was shot down by lawmakers.

The committee also recommended that the NNPC refund and remit 262 million dollars being expenses it could not satisfactorily defend in respect of holding strategic stock reserve, pipeline maintenance and management cost as well as capital expenditure.

This edition of the Gavel looks at the federal lawmakers’ discussion on the details of the report

The 10-month strike of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) also got the attention of the in the House of Representatives as they sought to end the strike.

Specifically, polytechnic lecturers went in strike on October 4, 2013.

The lecturers are demanding for proper funding of polytechnics, an end to the discrimination of polytechnic graduates among others.

The National Medical Association’s ongoing industrial action was also discussed at the Senate plenary.

In the video of this week’s edition of the Gavel, a member Senate Committee on Health, Senator Marjorie Okadigbo, expressed worries over the strike, stressing the need for the government and the medical workers to resolve the issues that led to the strike.

Smooth Implementation Of Emefiele’s Ideas Will Drive Investment Growth

Arize-Nwobu-&-Ogbonna-UkukuFinancial analysts On Monday stressed the need for a smooth implementation of the ideas of the new governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, for the achievement of needed investment growth. 

On Channels Television’s programme, Business Morning, the Country Representative International Institute for Investment promotion, Mr Ogbonna Ukuku and a financial market analyst, Mr Arinze Nwobu commended the new governor’s monetary policy stance.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure a successful implementation of the policies,” they said.

According to them, the money market, particularly the capital market, has a role to play in supporting development finance by keeping in touch with Small and Medium Enterprises, help them grow their businesses and encourage them to list on the Stock Exchange.

They further stressed that the physical point where the policies would be implemented must be ready to carry out the ideas.

Mr Ukuku said that change expected would be a gradual one, stressing the need for the policies to help ensure adequate financing of investments in some sectors of the economy that had not been explored. He cited the solid mineral exploration as one of the sectors that had not been explored.

“The apex bank should also look at how development finance institutions in Nigeria will be strengthened so that they will be able to fund the industries that have been lying fallow. There should be an effort to strike a balance in the trade imbalance that exist between Nigeria and other countries.  More of what is done at the physical end determines the victory that you get when you are running an economy,” he said.

Mr Emefiele had said that there would be a gradual interest rate drop.

But Mr Nwobu said he had to be strategic about the plan to drop the interest rate as it would have effect in the money market.

Court To Deliver Judgement On Sanusi’s Suit Against FRCN May 12

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi addressing journalist after a Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja on Monday, 21 January 2013
The suspended governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria Lamido Sanusi

A Federal High Court in Lagos State will deliver judgment in a suit filed by the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Lamido Sanusi, against the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) and its Executive Secretary on May 12.

The court fixed the date after listening to the arguments of lawyers in the case, both of whom also adopted their written submissions and other processes already placed before the court.

Mr Sanusi is challenging his invitation to appear before the investigating panel set up by the FRCN.

At Thursday’s proceedings, presided over by Justice John Tsoho, counsel to the suspended CBN governor, Mr Kola Awodein, insisted that the FRCN should be stopped from further investigating Mr Sanusi because the organisation had demonstrated bias when it earlier indicted him without giving him the opportunity to defend himself.

The lawyer also argued that the council could not be a judge in its own case, after it had investigated the allegations, reached its conclusion and made recommendations to the Federal Government.

Mr Awodein is therefore seeking a declaration that the FRCN’s conduct, action, decision and conclusion in respect of the suspended CBN Governor, particularly as it manifested in a brief note of 7 June, 2013 which was sent to the President, contravene the rule of natural justice.

He also wants the court to declare that the Council and it’s executive secretary do not have the powers to conduct the purported investigation as advertised in the newspapers and further seeks an order restraining the defendants and their agents in any form from conducting any investigation, inquiry, hearing or proceedings whatsoever as advertised in newspapers.

In objection, Mr Segun Ajibola, counsel to FRCN  and its Executive Secretary, said that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit as the plaintiff had not exhausted the internal mechanism put in place for the resolution of grievances.

Mr Ajibola also said that the FRCN through its secretary issued a note, addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan, expressing its observation on the discrepancies it noticed in the audited financial statement and explanatory note of the CBN.

Part of the council’s recommendation was that there was a need for thorough investigation of the activities of the CBN.

The FRCN counsel concluded that the investigation panel was not bias and had not arrived at any other conclusion in respect of the investigation of the activities of the CBN for the financial year of 2011 and 2012.

Mr Ajibola, therefore asked the court to strike out the suit for being misconceived and premature.

Nigeria’s Poor Infrastructure Will Frustrate Single Digit Interest Rate – Sanusi

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido has defended the double digit monetary policy rate currently being adopted by the bank’s monetary policy committee, warning that loans at single digits is of no use to the nation’s real sector with the derelict infrastructure.

He was speaking during an interactive session with the House of Representatives’ committee on banking and currency which sought to understand why monetary policy rates are high in the country.

The CBN governor said while it would be very easy for the apex bank to double the money in the system, which would lead to a crashed interest rate, it would hurt the economy as inflation will rise.

Provision of Education Is Prerequisite For Curbing Nigeria’s Insecurity – Sanusi

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Lamido Sanusi has asked the federal government to come up with sound policies in the education sector which he says is a prerequisite to address the spate of insecurity in the country.

Mr Sanusi who spoke at a meeting in Abuja said that over three per cent of girls in northern Nigeria who start school fail to complete their education.

And as a way of empowering the nation’s women, he said that the apex bank came up with a recommendation that will ensure that 30 per cent of board members of banks are women.