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ICPC Charges Suspended SEC DG, Gwarzo, With N115m Fraud

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  • ICPC Charges Suspended SEC DG, Gwarzo, With N115m Fraud

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has preferred three charges against the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Mounir Gwarzo.

In the charge marked CR/185/18, which was filed before a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, the ICPC accused Gwarzo of committing the fraud in June 2015.

The commission also preferred two charges against the SEC Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services, Zakwanu Garuba, for allegedly conniving with Gwarzo to commit the fraud.

According to the anti-graft agency, Gwarzo received over N104m as severance benefit less than a month after his appointment.

The suspended SEC boss was also accused of receiving over N10m as a ‘car grant’ contrary to Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

The charges read, “That you, Mounir Gwarzo, on or about June 2015, while being the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, received the sum of N104, 851, 154.94 as severance benefits when you had yet to retire, resign or disengage from the service of SEC. You conferred a corrupt advantage upon yourself and committed an offence under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“That you committed a criminal breach of trust to wit: dishonestly misappropriated the sum of N104, 851, 154.94 as your severance benefit contrary to Section 311 and punishable under Section 312 of the Penal Code Cap 532 Vol 4 of FCT Abuja 2007.

“That you conferred a corrupt advantage upon yourself when you received the sum of N10, 983, 488.88 in excess of car grant payable to you and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act.”

Gwarzo was suspended by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in November 2017 for alleged financial impropriety.

Adeosun also set up an administrative panel of inquiry to investigate and determine the culpability of the suspended DG.

The panel in January 2018 recommended Gwarzo’s sacking.

The suspended SEC boss had, however, denied all the allegations levelled against him, insisting that he was being persecuted by the minister for refusing to drop the probe of Oando Plc, an allegation which the minister denied.

While speaking before the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market and Institutions at the National Assembly in Abuja, the suspended SEC DG had admitted receiving the N104m severance benefit, defending the payment as his due, having served as a commissioner for over two years prior to being appointed as the DG.

He had said, “The minister called me to her office and demanded that I should stop the forensic audit of Oando. I asked that she put it in writing, but she called for my resignation instead. She said if I failed to resign, then I would be suspended.

“And I insisted I would not do anything the minister asked me to do. What followed the next day was my suspension.”

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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Dangote Refinery Struggles Amid Alleged IOC Sabotage, Calls for Government Support

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Devakumar Edwin, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), has accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria of undermining the operations of Dangote Oil Refinery and Petrochemicals.

Edwin claims that these IOCs are deliberately obstructing the refinery’s efforts to purchase local crude oil by inflating prices above market rates, compelling the refinery to import crude from as far afield as the United States at significant additional costs.

Speaking at a one-day training programme for Energy Editors organized by the Dangote Group, Edwin expressed his frustration over the challenges faced by the refinery.

“While the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) is trying their best to allocate crude to us, the IOCs are deliberately frustrating our efforts to buy local crude. They are either asking for an excessive premium or claiming crude is unavailable. At one point, we paid $6 above the market price, forcing us to reduce output and import crude, increasing our production costs,” Edwin lamented.

The refinery, which began production recently, has exported over 3.5 billion liters of fuel, representing 90% of its output.

However, Edwin warned that the IOCs seem intent on ensuring that Nigeria remains dependent on imported refined petroleum products by exporting raw materials to their home countries and re-importing the refined products, thereby creating employment and wealth abroad while Nigeria grapples with unemployment and economic challenges.

Edwin also criticized the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) for indiscriminately issuing licenses to importers, leading to an influx of substandard, high-sulfur diesel and other refined products into Nigeria.

“Despite our compliance with ECOWAS regulations and standards, dirty diesel from Russia is being dumped into the Nigerian market. This has serious health implications for Nigerians,” he stated.

In recent months, reports from Agence-France Presse highlighted the detrimental impact of these imports, with high-sulfur fuels linked to carcinogenic effects.

European countries like Belgium and the Netherlands have already banned the export of such fuels to West Africa, citing their harmful impact on air quality and public health.

Edwin urged the Nigerian government and regulators to provide necessary support to ensure the refinery’s success.

“The Federal Government issued 25 licenses to build refineries, and we are the only one that delivered on our promise. We deserve every support from the government to create jobs and prosperity for the nation,” he asserted.

He also appealed to the National Assembly to expedite the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to safeguard Nigeria’s interests and ensure that the country’s refining capacity is fully utilized.

“Ghana has banned the importation of highly contaminated diesel and petrol into their country through legislation. It is regrettable that, in Nigeria, import licenses are granted despite knowing that we have the capacity to produce nearly double the amount of products needed domestically and export the surplus,” Edwin concluded.

The Dangote Refinery’s predicament underscores the broader challenges facing Nigeria’s energy sector, where regulatory and market dynamics continue to pose significant hurdles for local enterprises striving to boost domestic production and reduce dependence on imports.

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Experts Predict Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones Could Generate More Than N11.11tn

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Economic experts are optimistic about the potential of Nigeria’s Free Trade Zones (FTZs) to boost the nation’s economy significantly.

According to recent analysis, these zones could generate more than the N11.11 trillion they have already remitted to the Federation Account as of October 2023.

The Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Muda Yusuf, said the FTZs will help facilitate forex.

“Nigeria’s urgent need for foreign exchange necessitates leveraging our free zones to enhance non-oil export revenue and reduce dependency on crude oil earnings,” Yusuf stated.

He pointed out the success stories of other countries, notably Dubai, which has effectively utilized its free zones to generate foreign exchange and attract significant investments.

“Our free zones must strive to do more, as we are still heavily reliant on oil and gas for our foreign exchange earnings. Increased investment in these areas is crucial,” he added.

Supporting this perspective, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Olufemi Ogunyemi, recently highlighted the economic contributions of the FTZs while addressing the Senate Committee on Industry, Trade, and Investment.

Ogunyemi noted that these zones have created substantial wealth for the states hosting them and generated significant revenue for various agencies.

“Agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, the Immigration Services, and the Nigerian Ports Authority have seen revenues of N59.38 billion, N828.7 million, and N8.738 billion, respectively, while states have received N998 million in Pay As You Earn (PAYE) remittances,” Ogunyemi reported.

He also highlighted the broader impact of the FTZs, noting that as of the end of 2023, the 46 licensed zones had provided 38,429 direct jobs and an additional 172,930 indirect jobs.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $491.8 million and local direct investment amounting to N1.15 trillion have flowed into these zones, with N1.62 trillion worth of cargo imported from 2019 to 2023, saving scarce foreign exchange.

David Adonri, Vice President of Highcap Securities Limited, praised NEPZA’s achievements, suggesting that the government use these successes to encourage more Nigerians to start manufacturing businesses within the FTZs.

“The remittances from the free trade zones are commendable and should be a marketing tool to attract more investments,” Adonri said.

However, some experts believe there is room for improvement. Professor Olusegun Ajibola of Babcock University argued that while the remittances are noteworthy, they are not yet at a level worth celebrating.

“The government needs to intensify efforts in revenue generation from these zones as they were established at a significant cost to the host states,” Ajibola remarked.

He called for a review of the 32-year-old NEPZA Act to address any challenges and enhance the performance of the FTZs.

As Nigeria continues to seek ways to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on oil, the FTZs present a promising avenue. With strategic investments and robust management, these zones could indeed surpass their current contributions, fostering economic growth and stability for the nation.

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Nigeria’s Dangote Refinery Breaks Into Asian Market with LSSR Shipment

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In a historic move, Dangote Refinery is set to ship low-sulfur straight-run fuel oil (LSSR) from Nigeria to Singapore this week, its entry into the Asian market.

This development represents a significant milestone for the refinery, which began operations in January following a $20 billion investment.

According to ship tracking data and market sources, the refinery will initiate a new trade route from Nigeria to Asia, a region that consistently demands low-sulfur fuel oil for ship refueling at Singapore, the world’s largest bunker hub.

The Glencore-chartered vessel, Front Brage, will deliver approximately 124,000 metric tons (787,400 barrels) of LSSR to Singapore, with the shipment expected to arrive on Wednesday.

The Dangote Refinery, with a processing capacity of up to 650,000 barrels of products per day, is poised to become the largest refinery in Africa and Europe once it reaches full capacity.

Since March, the refinery has increased its LSSR exports, primarily sending cargoes to the Americas and Europe, as reported by ship tracking data from Kpler and Vortexa.

“This first shipment to Asia marks a new chapter in Dangote Refinery’s expansion strategy,” said a market analyst. “Breaking into the Asian market underscores the refinery’s growing influence and its capability to meet diverse global fuel demands.”

Market sources suggest that the cargo was redirected to Asia due to weaker demand in Europe. Data from LSEG indicates that the east-west spread for front-month 0.5 percent LSFO, reflecting the price difference between these regions, stayed above $40 per ton this week.

Dangote’s LSSR cargoes are priced against Rotterdam’s 0.5 percent LSFO quotes on a free-on-board basis, although the specific pricing differential for this shipment was not disclosed by market sources.

This pioneering shipment is the beginning of a series of exports to Asia. Another LSSR shipment from the Dangote refinery, containing around 157,000 tons, is expected to reach Singapore in July aboard the vessel Stena Suede, based on ship tracking data.

LSSR is typically blended with other fuels to create low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) for bunkering or used as feedstock in various refinery processes.

This export initiative not only diversifies Dangote Refinery’s market reach but also enhances Nigeria’s position in the global energy market.

In February, Dangote began exporting oil products and started purchasing crude oil, mainly from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd, in December 2023.

The refinery’s successful entry into the Asian market is anticipated to drive further growth and establish new trade relationships, reinforcing its status as a key player in the global oil industry.

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This landmark export not only demonstrates Dangote Refinery’s operational capabilities but also signals Nigeria’s expanding influence in the global energy sector. As the refinery continues to innovate and expand, it is well-positioned to meet the increasing global demand for cleaner, more efficient fuels.

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