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‘’2016 Will be Characterised by Continued Growth in Retail Contribution’’ – FCMB

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FCMB Group Plc has stated that its subsidiaries, namely First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, FCMB Capital Markets Limited and CSL Stockbrokers Limited, are well positioned to grow strongly this year. The holding company added that the subsidiaries would also deepen the financial services support they provide to customers and the nation at large with their array of products and bespoke solutions to further enhance customer experience in their respective target markets.

In a statement, the Managing Director of FCMB Group Plc, Mr. Peter Obaseki, said, ‘’2016 will be characterised by continued growth in retail contribution, stabilisation of wholesale banking revenues and increased focus on cost efficiencies’’.

He added that the retail banking business of the Group, which is driven by First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, has continued to, ‘’show greater resilience and earnings momentum over the years’’.

Mr. Obaseki disclosed that FCMB Group Plc would in the fourth week of January this year announce the completion of the banking subsidiary’s interim audit, which should pave way for the release of the 3Q15 earnings results of FCMB Group Plc. According to him, “3Q15 earnings as at September 2015, will be materially below earnings for the same period in 2014, due to two factors: a spike in impairments particularly in the energy sector and the significant reduction in trade finance-related revenues due to foreign exchange illiquidity. This trend continued in 4Q15 and largely emanated from wholesale banking activities’’. He further stated that, ‘’we will increase focus on cost efficiencies (opex, funding and risk) in order to restore earnings levels”.

FCMB Group, as a holding company, is one of the dominant players in the Nigerian financial landscape with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their niche segments.

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, which is the flagship of the Group, has evolved to emerge as the largest retail lender in the country, granting over 278,000 loans a year, while also providing the necessary financial support to other activities. The Bank’s retail banking business is well diversified across lending, savings deposits, bancassurance, electronic banking, payments and other valued-added offerings with over 3 million customers, 225 branches and other channel outlets spread nationwide. In spite of the challenges facing the Nigerian business environment, the Bank has continued to show resilience and growth in its operations, particularly in the areas of low cost deposits, personal banking, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as well as corporate and commercial banking. Last year, the Bank emerged as the “Most Customer Friendly Bank” in the country, at the prestigious BusinessDay Bankers Awards, among several awards and accolades received over the years.

Commenting on the growth recorded by the Bank over the years and its aspirations, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Mr. Ladi Balogun, said, ‘’we will continue to do the things we are doing well; driving low cost deposit growth, in order to bring down the cost of funds, through increased acquisition and collections. We will also continue to raise our performance in customer service by building a vibrant, credible and relevant banking brand that everyone wants to bank with. Overall, we are confident this progress and momentum will be sustained, as we continue to grow our market share through service excellence while improving our efficiency ratios’’.

One of the Group’s subsidiaries, FCMB Capital Markets Limited is rated as one of the top-leading investment and advisory firms across diverse sectors of the Nigerian economy, including oil & gas, power, commercial real estate, financial services, consumer goods and telecommunications. Its services include, but are not limited to financial advisory, debt and equity capital raising (including initial public offerings), mergers and acquisitions, project and structured finance. The company has been involved in landmark transactions in Nigeria over the past three decades; combining innovative advice and proven execution skills, to domestic and multinational clients. For instance FCMB Capital Markets was the sole arranger for the Naira equivalent of US$150 million finance facility for the ongoing 1,120 megawatts Azura-Edo Independent Power Plant in Edo state which is expected to begin producing electricity in early 2017. FCMB Capital Markets has won several laurels, which includes the ”Best Local Investment Bank in Nigeria” at the 2014 African Banking Awards, organised by EMEA Finance.

CSL Stockbrokers (CSLS) Limited, the third subsidiary in the FCMB Group, has over 30 years operating history on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) and is among the top three stockbroking firms. It provides institutional and corporate brokerage services to investors and select issuers. At the heart of CSLS is a robust research platform which supports local and international investors who desire in-depth coverage of the Nigerian capital markets and the economy as a whole. The firm’s brokerage platform is accessible through its offices in Lagos, London, and New York.

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Paris-bound bizman arrested with 111 cocaine wraps

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested a 48-year-old businessman, Emmanuel Orjinze, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine.

The suspect, who claimed to be a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on May 21 during the outward clearance of an Air France flight to Paris, France.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on the agency’s website on Sunday.

The statement read, “Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested a 48-year-old Paris, France-bound businessman, Emmanuel Okechuku Orjinze, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine, which he excreted after days of observation in the agency’s custody following his arrest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“Okechukwu, who also claims he is a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on Tuesday, May 21, during the outward clearance of Air France flight AF 878 from Abuja to Paris, France.

“After a body scan confirmed he ingested illicit drugs, he was taken into custody where he excreted a total of 111 pellets of cocaine that weighed 1.603 kilograms over three days. The suspect claimed he did business in the maritime sector while still scouting for any European football club to engage him. ”

In the same vein, the NDLEA officers operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos hinted that they had dismantled another drug trafficking syndicate at the airport.

This, they said in a statement, followed the arrest of four members of the network and the seizure of a total of 8kg of methamphetamine and 7.60kg of Loud, a synthetic strain of cannabis imported from South Africa.

The statement added that a drug trafficking syndicate was busted at the airport when an official was caught with illicit substances in their backpack and bag.

On May 21, 2024, the NDLEA officers, supported by aviation security, intercepted the official at Terminal 1 and discovered the drugs during a search, blowing the lid off the syndicate.

“A swift follow-up operation at the Ajao Estate area of Lagos led to the arrest of two other members of the syndicate: Chris Nwadozie and Chinedu Nwaosu. Further investigation led to the arrest of another member of the cartel working within the airport system on Saturday, May 25,” the statement added.

In a related development, the agency also arrested a freight agent, Sonubi Abiodun, for attempting to export eight parcels of cocaine concealed in paint buckets to the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the NDLEA operatives arrested suspects producing and distributing skuchies, a mixture of black currant and illicit drugs, in Lagos, and recovered 2,480 litres of the psychoactive substance.

In Cross River State, a suspect, Ogar Emmanuel, was arrested with 2.5kg of cannabis, while 290kg of cannabis was recovered from the warehouse of Usani Ikpi, who is still at large. Additionally, three suspects – Sa’adu Sule, Mukhtar Nura, and Hamza Nura – were arrested in Katsina State with 70kg of cannabis, which originated from Ogun State.

The statement added, “No fewer than five suspects including Ezekiel Munda, 30; and Sule Mustapha, 21, were arrested by the NDLEA operatives on Thursday, May 23, during raids at the Karu Abattoir, Jikwoyi and Tora Bora hill area of the FCT, Abuja, where 95.01kg of cannabis and different quantities of opioids were recovered from them.

“In Edo State, operatives arrested a physically challenged notorious drug dealer, Zekere Sufianu, 45, at Auchi town on Wednesday, May 22. At the time of his arrest, he was found with 751 grams of Loud, 178 grams of tramadol, and pills of swinol,” the statement concluded.

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FG suit against 36 govs over LG funds begins

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The Federal Government has approached the Supreme Court with a suit seeking to compel governors of the 36 states of the federation to grant full autonomy to the local governments in their domains.

The suit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, was filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on behalf of the Federal Government.

The Federal Government is urging the apex court to issue “an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders for local governments.”

In the suit predicted on 27 grounds, the Federal Government accused the state governors of gross misconduct and abuse of power.

The FG, in the originating summons, prayed the Supreme Court to make an order expressly stating that funds standing to the credit of local governments from the Federation Account should be paid directly to the local governments rather than through the state governments.

The justice minister also prayed for “an order of injunction restraining the governors, their agents and privies from receiving, spending or tampering with funds released from the Federation Account for the benefits of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.”

The Federal Government further sought “an order stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the Constitutionally recognised and guaranteed democratically system.”

The originating summons was backed by a 13-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kelechi Ohaeri of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Ohaeri, in the affidavit, averred that the AGF instituted the suit against the governors under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the Federal Government.

He said,“The Constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, states and local governments as three tiers of government and the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

“By the provisions of the Constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system and the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than a democratically elected local government system.

“In the face of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

“The failure of the governors to put democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

“All efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place a democratically elected local government system has not yielded any result and to continue to disburse funds from the Federation Account to governors for non-existing democratically elected local government is to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

“In the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Government is not obligated under Section 162 of the Constitution to pay any state, funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place.”

The AGF, therefore, urged the apex court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that the state governors and state Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government in Nigeria and to also invoke the same sections to hold that the governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

Furthermore, he urged to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that “the dissolution of democratically elected local government councils by the governors or anyone using the state powers derivable from laws enacted by the state Houses of Assembly or any Executive Order is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.”

The apex court has fixed Thursday, May 30 for hearing.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees hailed the move by the Federal Government, saying it would join the lawsuit as a concerned party.

 

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JUST IN: Tribunal affirms Diri as Bayelsa governor

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The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, upheld the election that produced Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State.

A three-man panel led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye dismissed the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Timipre Sylva, and the party for lacking in merit.

In a unanimous decision, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove any credible evidence to back up any of the allegations they raised against the re-election victory of Diri.

Details shortly…

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