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UNREMITTED N165BN: AMAECHI SILENT ON ALLEGATION AGAINST BALA-USMAN, BASES QUERY ON WAIVERS TO DANGOTE, OTHERS

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The Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi failed to mention the allegation of unremitted N165 billion levelled against the suspended Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Managing Director, Hadiza Usman, between 2016 and 2020, to the federal government, a document detailing the query and responses on the matter has shown.
The document sighted by Pointblanknews.com from Ministry of Transportation sources indicated that rather, Amaechi, in the 20-point query issued to Usman, accused her of granting waivers to billionaire businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, issuing exemptions to Neconde and bypassing him to communicate directly with the presidency.
But in a point-by-point response to the query, sent to the permanent secretary in the ministry of transport, copied the chairman, governing board, NPA, dated February 4, Bala-Usman explained that she remained innocent of all the accusations.Several reports had alleged the non-remittance of N165.3 billion “operating surpluses” to the Federation Account by the NPA under Usman, a development that led to her suspension.

Amaechi, it was gathered, had thereafter written a memo to the president, recommending a ministerial investigation of the activities of the NPA under her. The administrative panel has since submitted its report.

But despite the much-talked-about N165 billion, the document mentioned waiver, rebates and tariffs granted by NPA without requisite approval in the query, accusing Bala-Usman of acting beyond her authority as MD/CEO of the NPA in taking and or approving the action.

“In 2019, you unilaterally granted a waiver to Dangote Cement Plc on applicable tariff for export of cement/clinker based on the company’s projections to export up to 5 million metric tons annually.

“The said waiver was discriminatory in nature as it was applicable to only one company operating in the sector and there was no justification as to why a selective approach was adopted,” the query read.

By virtue of another letter ref No: HQ/ED/M&OP/191 dated 23 March 2021, it stated that NPA clarified to Dangote Cement that the 2019, approval was actually meant to be applicable strictly to the export of clinker and not inclusive of cement.

By in another memo dated March, 31, 2021, the document had stated that the NPA decided to extend the waiver granted to Dangote to all companies in involved in the export of clinker, raising suspicion.

But in her response, Bala-Usman stated that the approval she granted for the reduction in applicable tariffs for the export of clinker was from the beginning granted to all exporters of clinker as contained in the directive noted in the memo dated June 18, 2019.

She added that she “minuted” the executive director, marine and operations to implement the recommendation for all clinker exports, stressing that based on the above, it was evident that there was no discrimination or selective approach in granting the waiver as all companies operating in the sector were granted the waiver.

Usman averred that the reason for the subsequent directive in March 2021 was because she noticed in a memo dated February 5, 2021, that the marine operations directorate had not acted in line with her directive which stated that the reduction in tariff was applicable to all the clinker export.

“ I therefore ‘minuted’ the following to the general manager, tariff and billing. The approval was for all clinker export to all companies,” she explained.

Another point of contention, according to the document, was that pursuant to a request by Neconde Energy Limited, Bala-Usman authorised vide letter dated February 28, 2019, granting an exemption to the company from the payment of cargo dues from vessels conveying waste waters derived from OML 42 to designated disposal zones.

But in her defence, Usman stated that the approval granted to Neconde Energy Ltd was based on a request made by the company stating that oil producing operations of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company(NPDC) in partnership with the company at the facility, produced wastewater which was required to discharge at offshore.

“This operation of the movement of vessels to dispose wastewater at the designated locations are non-revenue generating, hence the ship dues for these non-economic cargo being at par with economic revenue generating vessels movements was considered unjustified.

“Hence, I granted the approval for the waiver to enable them effectively discharge the wastewater in line with Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) guidelines,” she pointed out.

In addition, Amaechi accused Bala-Usman of unilaterally granting a waiver without recourse to the Executive Management Committee (EMC) and or board of the NPA to Messrs Port & Terminal Operators Nigeria (PTOL) in respect of its outstanding indebtedness to the NPA in the sum of $100,985,846.83 as at September 2019.

He stated that the suspended MD further granted a waiver to enable the company pay 25 per cent of its contractual lease fees to the NPA, thereby leading to the loss of significant revenues to the federal government.

However, Bala-Usman said she did not unilaterally grant a waiver/downward review of 25 per cent and the lease fee to PTOL, but only implemented the approval/no objection granted by the ministry on the waiver/downward review of the 25 per cent on the lease fee as conveyed via letter dated June 11, 2015 with ref. T.3999/5.39/C.12/T1/366.

“Hence, I have not committed an act of misappropriation but only approved the implementation of a directive given by the Federal Ministry of Transportation. I am not aware of approving any waiver of the debt of $100,985,846.83, as at September 2019 to PTOL. Hence, I did not commit any act of misappropriation,” she added.

The document stated that in granting the waivers and rebate to the commercial entities, which led to substantial loss of government revenue, Bala-Usman did not make any recourse to nor seek the approval of the minister of transportation as well as finance, budget and national planning respectively.

In her response, Bala-Usman noted that she did not grant any waivers that will constitute a substantial loss of revenue to the government.

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Contempt: Again, court commits EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to prison

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been committed to prison for allegedly disobeying court order.

The court also directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to effect Bawa’s arrest and remand him in Kuje prison for the next 14 days until he purges himself of the contempt.

Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, in his judgement on Monday, granted the application for committal to prison of the EFCC chairman for disobeying a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, wherein the EFCC chairman was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.

Ali Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, with the court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.

The EFCC’s applications for setting aside and stay of execution of the ruling were refused for want of merit.

The Court had, in Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, marked, “HCL/697M/2022” and titled, “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should not be Made,” asked the EFCC Chairman to appear before it on January 18, 2022 to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the order given on December 12, 2022 in a case filed by Ali Bello against the EFCC and Bawa, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, respectively.

The court ordered that the EFCC and Bawa be served the motion of notice together with Form 49 by substituted means.

The court had declared the arrest and detention of the applicant in the face of a subsisting court order made by a court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest “or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested” as unlawful, unconstitutional, and in contravention of the personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The court had also ordered the respondents to tender an apology to the applicant in a national newspaper and awarded N10 million compensation for him.

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Fidelity grows profit to N52 billion for FY 2022 

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Fidelity Bank Plc has announced an impressive growth in Profit Before Tax to N52 bn for the Full Year 2022. This was made known in the Bank’s unaudited statement of account presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) on Wednesday, 31 January 2023.

 

According to the regulatory filing, the bank grew Gross Earnings by 33.9% to N335.897 billion (from N250.774 billion in FY 2021) and Net Interest Income by 61.1% to N152.813 billion (from N94.877 billion in FY 2021) leading to a Profit After Tax of N47.163billion for FY 2022 (from N35.579billion in FY 2021).

 

Similarly, Total Assets for the Bank now stand at N3.999trillion (from N3.289trillion in FY 2021) and Deposit from Customers is now at N2.591trillion (from N2.024trillion in FY 2021).

 

Analysts posit that this is yet another strong showing for the tier-one bank having sustained impressive performance year-on-year even in the face of the headwinds in the economy. Despite growing its Gross Earnings at an impressive rate, the bank has managed to record one of the lowest Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratios in the Nigerian banking industry, for instance.

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Petition signatures to Emefiele over new naira hit 1653..

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Petition signatures to Emefiele over new naira hit 1653

 

Following the crisis over the non-availability of the redesigned N100, N200, N500 and N1000, over 1653 Nigerians have petitioned the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to end what they termed ‘hardship’ on the citizens.

 

The petition, hoisted on the global change website, change.org, which was started on Friday, garnered over 1653 signatures on Saturday.

 

As of the time of filing this report, many bank customers have yet to access the new notes as many automated teller machines are either not dispensing cash or completely shut down because of the crowd.

 

Protests have erupted over the situation in some parts of the country and some banks vandalised by hoodlums, demanding access to their money lodged in several accounts.

 

 

 

There have also been controversial videos showing bank officials sabotaging the process by hiding the new notes behind old ones in vaults.

 

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has requested seven days from Nigerians to fix the mess.

 

Part of the petition stated, “The recent shortage of physical cash in Nigeria has caused major untold hardship to Nigerians. People are spending hours in long lines at banks just to withdraw cash, and many are forced to rely more on digital transactions which tend to be unreliable due to poor bank networks.

 

POS operators also charge outrageous amounts; as much as N1000 for a N10,000 withdrawal. The Central Bank of Nigeria has stated that the shortage is temporary, but it is causing serious disruption to the daily lives of many Nigerians.

 

“We call on the government, stakeholders, law enforcement agencies and the CBN to take urgent action to address the cash shortage crisis in Nigeria. We demand that the CBN increase the distribution of physical cash to meet the demand, and also any POS operator found charging outrageous amounts for withdrawal should be arrested.’’

 

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students has expressed displeasure over the issue, noting that the process was not only ill-timed but also not well thought out.

 

Speaking to Sunday PUNCH during a telephone interview on Friday, National Vice President (External Affairs), Akinteye Afeez-Babatunde, said, “The whole situation is crazy. We are tired. Students are crying and complaining. They can’t get cash. The leaders have confirmed to us that they don’t care for the people. The policy is fine but the process to get it done is to the detriment of our own lives as Nigerians. Our day-to-day activities have been disrupted. Nigerians are suffering.’

 

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