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CBN Orders Bank Workers to Declare Assets

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has ordered workers in all the 19 Deposit Money Banks in the country to declare their assets. The  move analysts say looks like the Federal Government is beginning to expand its ongoing anti-corruption crusade to the private sector, especially the banking industry.

The directive, which came in a letter through the Banking Supervision Department of the CBN to all the 19 commercial banks in the country about four weeks ago, gave bank officials only one week to complete the assets declaration process, sources close to the DMBs said.

As of Thursday, investigation by our correspondent revealed that all the staff members of Ecobank Nigeria, First City Monument Bank Limited and Fidelity Bank Plc had complied with the directive.

Top officials of Ecobank, Fidelity Bank and FCMB, among others, confirmed the development. The workers said there was a directive from their management asking them to comply within one week.

Narrating his experience, a top official of one of the tier-1 banks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “All our staff members, from the most junior to the most senior, were asked to declare their assets through a court affidavit. It was handled by the company’s lawyer.

“We were asked to declare all our assets, including developed and undeveloped parcels of land, properties, houses in Nigeria and outside Nigeria etc. We were asked to also declare everything, including power generators at home. We complied within one week.”

Top bank executives said the move by the apex bank was not unconnected to the Federal Government’s plans to extend its anti-corruption crusade to the private sector.

It was also gathered that fear had descended on bank workers, especially top officials whose assets were beyond their means.

It was learnt that the fear that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission might soon begin the examination of the details of the assets declaration forms vis-à-vis the properties some top banker own.

Some top bankers, who own huge assets, it was gathered, were panicky on how they would be able to justify the huge assets in their names should the EFCC and ICPC come knocking on their doors.

Commenting on the assets declaration, an executive director in one of the top three banks, said, “It is part of the ongoing anti-corruption crusade in the country. The Federal Government is trying to deepen the anti-corruption war in the private sector, and it is believed that the banking sector is a very critical sector. This is why the CBN has been mandated to do this.”

Unconfirmed sources at the CBN said the directive followed a letter from the Code of Conduct Bureau asking the central bank to direct all bank employees to declare their assets with immediate effect.

“The directive is from the Code of Conduct Bureau. It is an extant rule. Before now, most people have not been complying. So the CCB wrote a letter to the CBN reminding it about it. This is why the CBN had to write the banks to comply,” a top official of the apex bank told our correspondent on condition of anonymity.

The spokesperson for the CCB, Mr. Muhammed Idris, did not respond to calls or a text message sent to his mobile telephone.

However, independent findings by our correspondent showed that the CCB’s scope of operations covers only political officeholders.

By law, the CCB is mandated to distribute assets declaration forms to the general public.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said the assets declaration was not a directive of the apex bank but a statutory requirement in line with the Bank Employees’ Declaration of Assets Act of 1986.

Asked why the CBN was enforcing its compliance at the moment, he said, “Why not now?”

The Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act Cap B1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 provides for asset declaration by all bank employees.

The Act also empowers the President to extend the application of the law to other categories of persons.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Finance

Federal Government Clears $120m Debt to Gas Companies Amid Nigeria’s Power Crisis

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Amidst Nigeria’s persistent power crisis, the Federal Government has taken a pivotal step forward by clearing a significant portion of its debt to gas companies.

A sum of $120 million has been paid out of the country’s $1.3 billion indebtedness to gas suppliers, offering a glimmer of hope for improved energy stability across the nation.

The Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, underscored the critical role of gas in power generation and highlighted how the mounting debts had severely hampered gas supply to electricity-generating companies, exacerbating the country’s electricity shortfall.

Nigeria heavily relies on thermal power plants fueled by gas for over 70% of its electricity needs, making the timely settlement of gas debts paramount for enhancing power generation capacity and addressing the nation’s energy deficit.

Addressing delegates at the 7th Nigeria International Energy Summit in Abuja, the Director of the Decade of Gas Secretariat, Ed Ubong, expressed optimism about the government’s progress in offsetting its financial obligations to gas producers.

He emphasized the importance of aligning gas and power sectors to foster sustainable energy solutions.

As Nigeria grapples with the multifaceted challenges plaguing its energy landscape, the government’s commitment to settling outstanding gas debts marks a pivotal stride towards revitalizing the country’s power infrastructure and ensuring reliable electricity access for its citizens.

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Finance

Nigeria Insurance Corporation Reimburses Depositors of 179 Closed Microfinance and Four Mortgage Banks

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The Nigeria Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has announced the successful reimbursement of depositors affected by the closure of 179 microfinance banks and four mortgage banks across the country.

The reassuring news came during the 45th Kaduna International Trade Fair, where NDIC’s Managing Director, Dr. Bello Hassan, explained the corporation’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding depositors’ funds amidst financial uncertainties.

Dr. Hassan, represented by Hauwa Gambo, the NDIC’s Deputy Director of Communication, highlighted the corporation’s proactive measures in protecting the interests of depositors.

The introduction of the Single Customer View framework has expedited the process of reimbursing depositors of liquidated banks, ensuring swift and transparent transactions.

The corporation’s collaboration with the judiciary has yielded positive results, facilitating the speedy prosecution of failed insured banks and resolving long-standing cases of bank liquidations like Fortune and Triumph Banks.

This concerted effort has significantly enhanced the debt recovery rate, enabling NDIC to declare full liquidation dividends to uninsured depositors of over 20 deposit money banks.

Furthermore, NDIC has embraced digital remote payment strategies, streamlining electronic funds transfers to verified depositors’ alternate bank accounts.

The introduction of the ‘Deposit Tracer’ initiative in partnership with mobile operators aims to address apathy among depositors with small balances, providing accessible avenues for claiming funds trapped in closed banks.

The initiatives underscore NDIC’s proactive stance in safeguarding depositors’ interests and ensuring financial stability in Nigeria’s banking sector.

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Banking Sector

85.51 Million Nigerian Bank Customers Face Withdrawal Freeze Over NIN, BVN Deadline

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As the March 1 deadline looms, an estimated 85.51 million Nigerian bank customers are facing the possibility of frozen accounts due to their failure to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) and/or Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) to their accounts.

Recent findings reveal the potential scale of the impending banking crisis.

Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) indicates that Nigeria had approximately 146 million active individual bank customers as of December 2022.

However, by January 26, 2024, only 60.49 million BVNs were recorded on the NIBSS portal, leaving a significant portion unlinked.

Meanwhile, about 104 million NINs had been issued by December 2023, highlighting the disparity between NIN issuance and BVN linkage.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier issued directives to banks, mandating them to restrict transactions on accounts lacking linked NINs and BVNs, with effect from March 1, 2024.

Any accounts found non-compliant risk being designated as ‘Post no Debit,’ rendering them unable to process further transactions.

Responding to the impending crisis, the Director-General of the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), Abisoye Coker-Odusote, emphasized the need for the revalidation of Front-End Partners (FEPs) to ensure the integrity of the identity database.

She underscored the importance of NIN registration and urged collaboration with various stakeholders to expedite the process.

The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, reiterated the significance of linking NINs to SIM cards to enhance national security.

Telecom subscribers were urged to comply with the NIN-SIM linkage directive to avoid service disruptions.

Meanwhile, financial service providers like Opay have issued reminders of the impending restrictions, urging customers to comply with the linkage requirements.

Amidst concerns, some customers contemplate transferring funds to compliant accounts to avoid potential financial setbacks.

As the deadline approaches, stakeholders are intensifying efforts to mitigate the impact of the impending banking crisis on millions of Nigerians.

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