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Senate Summons CBN, MTN, Banks Over $13.9bn Transfer Probe

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  • Senate Summons CBN, MTN, Banks Over $13.9bn Transfer Probe

The Senate on Thursday summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, three commercial banks and some businessmen over alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly had instituted a probe into what it called the illegal transfer of $13.9bn by MTN from Nigeria to other countries between 2006 and 2016.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions was mandated to carry out the probe by conducting an investigative hearing on the “unscrupulous violation of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act.”

The summons was contained in the “Notice of Appearance” issued by the Chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, to the affected organisations and individuals, and obtained by our correspondent.

The notice read in part, “Pursuant to Senate Resolution S/Res/017/02/16 of 27th of September, 2016 on the above subject matter, the organisations and individuals listed below are invited to appear before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions on Thursday, 20th of October, 2016.

“The organisations and individuals who have not submitted the documents requested for in our earlier letter of 29th of September, 2016 are advised to do so on or before Tuesday, 18th of October, 2016.

“Mobile Telecommunications Network, Central Bank of Nigeria, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Dr. Pascal Dozie, Colonel Sani Bello, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Ahmed Dasuki, Gbenga Oyebode, Babatunde Folawiyo and Victor Odili.”

Also invited are Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank and Diamond Bank

The Senate began the probe on September 27, 2016, when a member of the upper chamber representing Kogi-West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, alleged that MTN illegally repatriated the sum out of the country through its bankers.

The lawmaker alleged that MTN transferred through Stanbic IBTC the sum of $4.87bn; Standard Chartered Bank, $5.72bn; Citi Bank, $2.98bn; and Diamond Bank, $0.35bn.

Melaye, who recalled that MTN, which is headquartered in South Africa, was incorporated in Nigeria as a private Limited Liability Company on November 8, 2000 and obtained its operating licence with $284.9m on February 6, 2001, alleged that the company did not request the Certificate of Capital Importation for the transaction.

He said, “The Senate observes that MTN did not request for the Certificate of Capital Importation from its bankers, Standard Chartered Bank, within the regulatory period of 24 hours of the inflow. The Senate observes also that the CBN was not notified of this inflow by Standard Chartered Bank within 48 hours of receipt and conversion of the proceeds to naira as required by regulations.

“It further observes that the sum of $117,683,987bn was also brought in by MTN between 2001 and 2003 in three different tranches. It is concerned that since inception, MTN had sought the collaboration of influential and unpatriotic Nigerians to assist them in looting our external reserves.”

The Nigerians, Melaye added, included a serving minister, who MTN allegedly used in moving $13.92bn out of the country, a sum that is over 50 per cent of the country’s external reserves, to floated and incorporated offshore Special Purpose Vehicles in the Cayman Island, Mauritius and British Virgin Island.

Melaye added, “The Senate was alarmed that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, owner of CELTELCOM Investment Limited with address at No.608, St. James Denis Street, Port Lewis, Mauritius, purportedly claimed to invest in MTN on the 7th of February, 2008, got a Certificate of Capital Importation and filled the Form ‘A’ on the same date) and closed his investment in Nigeria after receiving dollar payment for repatriation to New York same day.

“It is also aware that these offshore entities were offered shareholders loan and their repayment to the extent of repatriation of proceeds of dividends back to MTN International South Africa through the entities and operators of the SPVs brought on board as directors of MTN Communications.

“The Senate observes that after five years of operation in Nigeria, the management of MTN Nigeria Limited suddenly realised that they needed the Certificate of Capital Importation to enable them to commence repatriation of funds realised from their businesses.

“It observes also that MTN directed their bankers, i.e. Standard Chartered Bank, Citi Bank and Diamond Bank, to issue Certificate of Capital Importation for inflows that came in five to seven years ago, which their bankers obliged without the relevant approval from the CBN.”

The lawmaker stated that what MTN’s bankers did was in strict violation of Section 15 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act, 1995.

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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FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday for Democracy Day Celebration

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The Federal Government has declared Wednesday, June 12, a public holiday in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

The announcement was made in a statement signed by Aishetu Ndayako, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, on behalf of Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior.

The statement urged Nigerians to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices of the nation’s founding fathers and to ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secure, peaceful, and indivisible entity.

“As we mark another Democracy Day in the history of our dear country, let us all reflect on the efforts of our founding fathers and ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secured, peaceful, and indivisible entity,” the statement read.

A Historic Shift

The designation of June 12 as Democracy Day dates back to June 7, 2018, when former President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the day would henceforth be celebrated as Democracy Day.

Prior to this declaration, Democracy Day was observed on May 29, the date marking the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

President Buhari’s decision was rooted in the historical significance of June 12, 1993, the day of what is widely regarded as Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election.

Despite the election’s annulment by the then-military government, Buhari emphasized that the democratic credentials of the process should be honored.

Honoring a Legacy

To further commemorate the significance of June 12, Buhari posthumously awarded Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 election, with the nation’s highest honor, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

The statement from the Ministry of Interior also highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to implementing positive reforms aimed at reviving Nigeria’s economy and enhancing national security.

A Call for Unity

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, called on all citizens and friends of Nigeria to appreciate the progress that has been made in the country’s democratic journey and to look forward to a brighter future.

“As we celebrate Democracy Day, we must appreciate the progress that has been made and remain hopeful for a better future for Nigeria’s democracy,” the minister said.

This year’s Democracy Day comes at a crucial time as Nigeria continues to navigate economic challenges and security concerns. The public holiday on June 12 provides an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on the importance of democracy and the ongoing efforts to strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions.

As the nation prepares to observe the public holiday, there is a sense of anticipation and hope that the values of democracy will continue to guide Nigeria towards a prosperous and harmonious future.

The government’s declaration serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of June 12 and the importance of upholding democratic principles.

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Guilty on All 34 Counts: Trump Convicted in Hush Money Case

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In a historic and unprecedented legal decision, former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts in his “hush money” trial, making him the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

The verdict was delivered by a jury of 12 New Yorkers on Wednesday, concluding a six-week trial in Manhattan.

The charges against Trump centered around falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

The jury found Trump guilty on all counts, concluding that he authorized a scheme to falsify checks and related documents to keep the alleged affair from becoming public knowledge.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office presented evidence showing that the conspiracy to cover up the payment began during Trump’s 2016 campaign and continued into his first year in the White House.

They argued that Trump, along with his associates, created false records to mislead voters and conceal the payment.

Trump, who has consistently denied having any sexual encounter with Daniels, responded angrily to the verdict. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, he called the trial “a disgrace” and accused the judge of bias.

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” Trump stated.

He vowed to continue fighting the verdict, saying, “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here. We’ll fight to the end.”

The conviction comes at a critical time for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the 2024 election. Despite the conviction, there is no constitutional barrier preventing him from running for office again.

Legal experts note that the Constitution’s requirements for presidential candidates—being at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen, and a U.S. resident for 14 years—do not include any disqualification for being a convicted felon.

Judge Juan Merchan has scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11. The defense has until June 13 to submit any motions, with the prosecution required to respond by June 27.

Trump’s legal team indicated they would prefer a sentencing date in mid to late July.

Trump’s conviction adds to the already intense political climate as the nation prepares for the 2024 elections. The trial has drawn significant media attention and public scrutiny, reflecting deep divisions within American society.

The trial highlighted broader issues regarding campaign finance and the use of hush money in politics. It also raises questions about the integrity of presidential candidates and the lengths to which they might go to protect their public image.

As the legal and political ramifications of this verdict unfold, Trump’s conviction on all 34 counts marks a significant chapter in U.S. history.

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President Tinubu to Inaugurate Newly Paved Roads to Apapa, Tin Can Ports

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President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the newly constructed paved roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos on Saturday.

This development is anticipated to bring significant relief to port users and operators who have endured years of hardship due to the previously dilapidated roads and severe traffic congestion in the area.

The commissioning of these roads marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and boost economic activities around the nation’s busiest ports.

The newly paved roads are expected to enhance the flow of goods and services, reduce operational costs for businesses, and alleviate the chronic traffic bottlenecks that have plagued the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas.

President Tinubu, who is scheduled to arrive in Lagos on Saturday morning, will perform the inauguration as his first assignment of the day.

The ceremony signifies a commitment to addressing the infrastructural challenges that have long hindered the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Mohammed Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), highlighted the importance of this project earlier this year.

He emphasized the NPA’s “zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to the free flow of traffic” and reiterated the agency’s dedication to improving port operations.

“Our zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to free flow of traffic is no fluke,” Koko said, noting that the rehabilitation efforts are aimed at consolidating gains achieved first in Apapa and now extending to Tin Can.

In January 2024, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently and comprehensively repair the access roads to the Lagos Port Complex and Tin-Can Island Port Complex.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, echoed the urgency of this directive, pointing out that the poor condition of the port access roads had significantly increased internal logistics costs for importers and exporters.

“The dilapidated port access roads increase the cost of internal logistics for importers and exporters,” Oyetola noted.

The improved road infrastructure is expected to curb the exodus of businesses from the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas, which had been driven away by the severe logistical challenges.

The restoration of these critical routes is also anticipated to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness in international trade by facilitating smoother and more efficient port operations.

Following the inauguration of the port access roads, President Tinubu is also scheduled to flag off the Lagos to Calabar coastal road project at Victoria Island in Lagos.

Also, he will virtually inaugurate the newly rehabilitated 3rd Mainland Bridge, further underscoring his administration’s commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The series of inaugurations and project launches underscore a broader strategy to enhance connectivity, reduce operational bottlenecks, and stimulate economic growth through improved infrastructure.

The completion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island port roads is a pivotal step in this direction, promising a new era of efficiency and productivity for Nigeria’s maritime sector.

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