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NIGERIAN BRITISH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PROMISES TO LEAD POSITIVE PERCEPTION CAMPAIGN FOR COUNTRY

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The Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce has called on the international community to give Nigeria all necessary support in the country’s fresh attempt at re-inventing its socio-economic fabric.

Worried by the continued negative perception of Nigeria abroad in spite of some unfolding positive strides being achieved by the new administration, the Chamber has therefore promised to engage Nigerians in Diaspora towards correcting the wrong perceptions about the country, especially in the British society and its media.

Speaking during the inauguration dinner of the 14th executive council of the Chamber in Lagos last weekend, newly installed President/Chairman, Prince Adedapo Adelegan decried how, often times, global attention on Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, promotes pessimistic beliefs of wars, strife, low return on investment, unfriendly business environment and scams.

He said NBCC would soon unfold a programme of action aimed at deploying different platforms of engagement that would include commissioned documentaries, cultural road shows and establishment of legacy economic activities to assist to re-create Nigeria’s image.R-L: Coordinator, Directorate of Public Private Partnership, Ondo State Governor’s Office, Prince Adenekan Olateru-Olagbegi, representing the governor; Chairman of the Event, Mr. Fola Adeola, OFR; Lagos State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oluranti Adebule; President/Chairman, Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), Prince Adedapo Adelegan and his wife, Abimbola, during the inauguration dinner of the 14th president of the Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce, held in Lagos…at the weekend.
The new NBCC president noted that the Chamber was established in 1977 to promote trade and investment between Nigeria and Britain with particular emphasis on enhancing relationships towards building critical infrastructure that would support Nigeria’s economic growth, especially in the agriculture sector.

While calling on the country’s political leadership to chart a progressive path for the future, Prince Adelegan observed that India remained a good example for Nigeria to emulate. He said India has continued to make strategic investment in critical areas of its economy, thereby securing superior design and engineering know-how that has supported the local manufacturing industry and transformed the country into a major industrial nation.

He added that for Nigeria to achieve her dream of economic transformation, all critical stakeholders must pool efforts to install technology that is important as a foundation for the future of the economy.  “We will need FDI from UK, but will also encourage Nigerian investment in that country because the vibrancy of our entrepreneurial spirit will ultimately define the place of Nigeria in the next frontier of global economy”, he said.

The Chamber, he further posited, would move closer to government to contribute positively in ensuring that the right policies and momentum are generated for development.

As a step to engaging government further, he said the Chamber has inaugurated the Abuja chapter and “we are considering the creation of Public membership sector category within the Chamber to ensure that the partnership that is required to move the economy forward is achieved”.

Adelegan also revealed that the Chamber has concluded arrangements for the establishment of an academy and SME support center in partnership with a leading vocational training center in UK.

Congratulating the new NBCC president and his team, the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode who was represented by his deputy, Oluranti Adebule said the trade relationship between Britain and Nigeria has been greatly beneficial over the years.

According to him, “With increase in trade volume from 1.42 billion pounds in 2010 to over 7 billion in 2012, Nigeria ranks high as UK’s second trade partner on the continent after South Africa. The role of NBCC in the growth of this bilateral trade cannot be over emphasized”.

He said Lagos has always been the greatest beneficiary of the trade relations between Nigeria and UK which has contributed to the state’s GDP of $136 billion as well as her rising profile as a globally acknowledged mega city.

Governor Ambode expressed the hope that the new NBCC executive council would help attract more business to Lagos. He assured the business community of making ease of doing business a pleasurable experience, adding that his efforts in the last few months have been focused on improving infrastructural development and strengthening the capacity of security agencies to guarantee safety.

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FCMB Manager Arrested For Hoarding New Naira Notes

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A manager of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) branch in Osogbo, Osun State capital, has been arrested for allegedly preventing Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) loaded with cash from dispensing money to customers.

The spokesperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC), Azuka Ogugua, in a statement on Friday said the cash bundles were loaded into the ATMs while still wrapped, and as such, could not be dispensed through the machines

“The ICPC Compliance Team in Osogbo has busted an FCMB in Osogbo, Osun State, where some ATMs were loaded with cash with their wrappers un-removed, thus preventing the cash from being dispensed.

“The Team, therefore, directed that the wrappers be removed, and the cash loaded properly’.

Similarly, seven Point of Sale (POS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during the ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash.

Investigations, however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

The arrested persons are helping the Commission with information to assist investigations and bust any syndicates involved in the hoarding or sales of the redesigned notes.

 

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New naira: ICPC arrests Stanbic IBTC Bank manager over sabotage

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), has arrested an official of Stanbic IBTC Bank in Abuja for alleged sabotage.

The ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, said the development was in continuation of ICPC’s clampdown on elements frustrating efforts in making the redesigned Naira notes available to members of the public.

The bank official, who is the branch service head of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Deidei Branch in Abuja, was taken into custody for her deliberate refusal to upload cash into the branch’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) even when the cash was available and people were queuing at the ATM points.

The statement reads: “When the ICPC monitoring team stormed the bank at about 1:30pm on Friday to ensure compliance, and demanded explanation as to why all the ATMs were not dispensing cash, the team was informed by the branch’s head of operations that the bank just got delivery of the cash.

“However, facts available to the ICPC operatives indicated that the branch took delivery of the cash earlier around 11:58am and either willfully or maliciously refused to feed the ATMs with the cash.

“Against this backdrop, the ICPC team compelled the bank to load the ATMs with the redesigned Naira notes and ensured that they were all dispensing before arresting the culprit.

“The ICPC said investigations were still ongoing and the Commission will take appropriate actions as soon they are concluded.

“Similarly, seven Point of Sale (PoS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during an ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash.

“Investigations, however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

“The arrested persons were helping the anti-graft commission with information to assist investigations and bust other syndicates involved in the hoarding and sales of the redesigned Naira notes,” the anti-graft agency said.

 

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N24Billion Fraud: Appeal Court Okays Trial Of Ex-Accountant General, Otunla, After Refunding N6.4 Billion To Nigerian Government

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has set aside the judgment of a lower court barring the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from initiating either civil or criminal proceedings against former Accountant-General of the Federation, AG-F, Jonah Oguniyi Otunla.

In a judgment, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal marked: CA/A/657/2021, on Monday, January 30, 2023, held that Otunla failed to prove that there was actually a non-prosecution agreement between him and the EFCC.

The court upheld the arguments of the lawyer for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, and resolved the four issues, identified for determination, in favour of the Commission.

 

Justice Danlami Senchi, who read the judgment, noted that Otunla did not provide any written commitment, except his words and that of his lawyer, that such an agreement existed.

Justice Senchi held that Otunla could not halt his prosecution by merely claiming that there was an agreement, which existence he failed to establish with any credible evidence.

 

“In the instant case, there is no evidence to support the pleading of the respondent (Otunla) that he will not be prosecuted; that criminal or civil proceedings should not be instituted or initiated against him.

“There is no plea bargain or any documentary evidence relating to the President Panel for the Recovery of Funds. On the whole, the appeal is meritorious and it is allowed. The judgment of the Federal High Court, in suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/2321/2021 delivered on the 16th day of July 2021 delivered by honourable Justice I. E. Ekwo is hereby set aside,” he said.

 

Other members of the panel – Justices Stephen Adah and Elfreda Williams-Daudu – agreed with the lead judgment.

The EFCC investigated Otunla in relation to two cases: The alleged diversion of about N24 billion meant for disengaged staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the N2 billion allegedly received from the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

 

In July 2021, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja upheld Otunla’s claim of an existing verbal agreement between him and the then-acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, that he would not be prosecuted if he made a refund to the Federal Government.

Justice Ekwo, in the 2021 judgment on the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2321/2021 filed by Otunla, held among others, that, in view of the assurance given to him by Magu, which informed his refund of the money, he could no longer be prosecuted for his actions while in office between 2011 and 2015.

 

Otunla had, in an affidavit, claimed that Magu promised him that he would not be prosecuted should he return funds traced to him and companies linked to him and his associates.

He stated that sometime in 2015, he was invited by a team of EFCC investigators to probe the alleged diversion of funds from the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, pension funds. Otunla said he later met with Magu, in the course of the investigation, when the then acting EFCC chair told him in person to “refund the monies linked to your companies and nobody will prosecute you.”

 

He said, based on Magu’s promise, he had a reconciliatory meeting with the team of investigators, where he immediately undertook to make available some funds as refunds.

In line with the agreement, Otunla said one of the companies linked to him – Stellar Vera Development Ltd – refunded N750 million, another company – Damaris Mode Coolture Ltd – refunded N550 million, while the two firms later made an additional joint refund of N2,150,000,000.00 (Two billion, One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira only).

 

He added at a point, he raised several managers’ cheques for N10 million in favour of the EFCC, which he handed to the Economic Governance Section.

Otunla said, in all, he made a refund of N6,392,000,000.00 (Six Billion, Three Hundred and Ninety-Two Million Naira only) to the Federation Account through the EFCC.

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