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Rogue bankers steal customers’ funds online

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The simplification of banking services by technology has brought with it some hazards, including online frauds, OZIOMA UBABUKOH writes on the increasing rate of tampering with customers’ funds by bank employees

Cases of internal online fraud committed by bank employees have been on the rise lately, The PUNCH has learnt.

Our correspondent gathered that porous data system, coupled with dwindling remuneration in some of the banks, might have been encouraging bankers to tamper with customers’ funds.

Analysts are of the view that the quest to live fantasy lifestyles might have led some of the bankers to engage in such an illicit act.

An employee of a new generation bank said many of his former colleagues were sacked within the last two years due to discreet online manipulation of customers’ funds.

“Some had to resign when the lid on their deals was blown off,” the source, who pleaded not to be named, said.

“The most common cases are those that have to do with bankers tampering with the accounts of deceased customers and transferring the funds into their personal accounts within the same bank, or some other banks,” the source added.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had last month said there was a need to collaborate with various industry stakeholders to ensure that banks and other players in the financial services sector had maximum information security.

The CBN, through its Chief Information Security Officer, Taiwo Longe, had said that information security involved the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, regardless of the form the data might take; whether electronic or print.

He said, “Financial institutions, hospitals, telecommunications corporations and private businesses, amass a great deal of confidential information about their customers, employees, products, research findings and financial status, among others.

“As such, there is a need for maximum security of this information that is collected, processed and stored on computers and transmitted across computer networks.

“When the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data is impacted, security is said to have been breached. There are various threats to information security. Some are very dangerous and disruptive; others are just a nuisance.”

Responding to the issue of online banking fraud, the Bankers’ Committee, through the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said, “Online frauds in the banks are connected to biometrics. All frauds will end up in some accounts; so, if you have details of the person that post that account, that is the biometric details, no two individuals can have the same details, it will be easy to basically track or determine the culprit within the overall system.

“Remember that the industry is going to be sharing this platform. Therefore, once you know where that person is across the entire industry, we will all know that the person is a fraudster and he cannot change his name. The day you register, that is your name forever. If you come back with a thumbprint, and you try to change your name, the system will determine what you are about to do.”

“The second level is that the Bankers’ Committee is also looking at ways to determine what the appropriate levels of online transfers can be. The whole idea is to mitigate the issue of people transferring money and huge fraud. By reducing the amount, for instance, the incidence and the value of what that fraud can possibly be can be reduced.”

An industry analyst, Eseoghene Idolor, told our correspondent that poor internal control and checks by the banks usually created loopholes for their employees to commit fraud.

“Therefore, to reduce or eliminate fraud, there is a need to always have effective audit, security and surveillance systems during and after bank official operating hours,” he said.

The immediate past Chairman, Committee of e-Banking Heads, Mr. Chuks Iku, however, differed, saying, “It is very difficult to tamper with the accounts of customers in a bank because of the internal processes.”

According to him, closing an account or tampering with someone else’s money is not that easy, adding, “I do not agree that customers’ funds can be tampered with.

“If someone wants to commit fraud in the bank, it is difficult to stop, but such fraud will definitely be found out,” he added.

The Head, Brand and Media, eTranzact, Mr. Adeyemi Opene, encouraged customers to embrace mobile banking, “as there is minimal fraud in the process and it will help to avoid the bankers’ undue access to customers’ funds.”

“We didn’t pioneer online transactions, but we have really worked so hard to ensure that mobile transactions are seamless and secure,” he added.

Opene argued that for every transaction through mobile banking, there was a two-level authentication that made it very difficult for fraud to be perpetuated.

“We pioneered the Electronic Security Authentication; so, there is no way fraud can occur through the mobile money process, except when one reveals one’s card details,” he added.

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Olabode Olawuyi:s Dedication, Passion Will Forever Serve As An Inspiration To Us All-NBCA

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The Nigeria Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (NBCA) has stated that the dedication and passion of Mr. Olabode Olawuyi, the late veterinary technologist killed by a lion at the Zoological Garden of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), would forever serve as an inspiration.

 

NBCA stated this in a statement released on Wednesday, February 21, adding that Olawuyi’s dedication to his chosen field shone for all to see.

 

In the statement signed by Mr. Dipo Bali, NBCA said that it was deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Olawuyi, who was the former Public Relations Officer for the National Zoological Agency (NAZAP).

 

“In memory of Mr. Olabode Olawuyi, we pledge to redouble our efforts towards promoting responsible wildlife management practices and fostering a robust safety culture within the zoological and animal care fields. His dedication and passion will forever serve as an inspiration to us all.”

 

The group which described the deceased as a pillar of the Nigerian zoological community, also noted that he was lauded for his unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation and exceptional service.

 

“He had dedicated years to the OAU Zoological Garden, providing exemplary care to its resident lion, whom he had nurtured since its birth. NBCA acknowledges the ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Olawuyi’s passing.

 

“We extend our deepest condolences to his grieving family, friends, and colleagues at OAU during this difficult time. Our unwavering support stands with them as they navigate this profound loss.

 

“As an organization dedicated to wildlife protection and preservation in Nigeria, we recognize the inherent risks associated with working with wild animals. We remain steadfast in advocating for the strictest adherence to safety protocols and established guidelines to ensure the well-being of both wildlife caretakers and the animals under their care.*

 

Also, NBCA said that it remains committed to closely monitoring the situation and collaborating with relevant authorities to prevent similar tragedies from unfolding in the future, while also extending its unwavering support to the OAU Zoological Garden and its staff during this period of immense loss.

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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