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Reactions as UK Seizes Fresh N82bn Abacha Loot

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  • Reactions as UK Seizes Fresh N82bn Abacha Loot

A bank account containing £211m (approximately N82bn) has been traced to a former Nigerian military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

The money was recovered and subsequently confiscated in Jersey, Channel Islands, on the request of the United States of America Government.

Late Abacha was said to have laundered the money through the US into the Channel Islands before his death in 1998.

According to a report by Metro UK on Tuesday, the money was put in accounts held in Jersey by Doraville Properties Corporation, a British Virgin Islands company.

The report said the money was now being held by the government until authorities in Jersey, the US and Nigeria came to an agreement on how it should be distributed.

It was gathered that Jersey would keep the £211m loot in its Criminal Confiscation Fund, which could be used to pay for a variety of projects on the island.

The report added that more money held by Doraville was likely to be seized and paid into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund in the future.

Jersey’s Attorney General, Robert MacRae, said, “In restraining the funds at the request of the United States of America, through whose banking system the funds were laundered prior to arriving here, and in achieving the payment of the bulk of the funds into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund, Jersey has once again demonstrated its commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”

It was learnt that MacRae had applied for the restraining order over the Jersey bank account balance of Doraville in 2014, which the Jersey’s Royal Court granted.

However, Doraville applied to the Royal Court for the restraint order to be discharged, but the court dismissed the application in 2016.

A year later, Doraville challenged the Royal Court’s decision, taking the case to Jersey’s Court of Appeal, an appeal that was rejected.

After the appeal’s rejection, Doraville made an application to appeal against the restraint order before the Privy Council, Jersey’s ultimate appellate court.

However, the Privy Council rejected Doraville’s appeal in February 2018.

Jersey’s Solicitor General, Mark Temple, said last week at a United Nations Conference on Corruption that the island was determined to fight international financial crime.

By the time Abacha died in office in June 1998, he had reportedly stolen an estimated $2.2bn from the country’s coffers.

His then-National Security Adviser, Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo; his son, Mohammed Abacha; and best friend, Alhaji Mohammed Sada, were alleged to have played a central role in the looting and transfer of money to offshore accounts.

However, the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Hassan Dodo, could not be reached for comments on the seized funds as calls made to his mobile phone were not answered, while a text message sent to him was not responded to.

PDP, ADC attack Buhari

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party said the return of stolen money traced to the late army general must be worrisome to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The PDP recalled that the President had once defended the late head of state and proclaimed him a saint.

It said that because Buhari served in the government of the general whom millions of dollars had been traced to, the President had been defending him “when it was clear to all that the late general stole Nigeria dry.”

The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said there was nothing on ground to indicate that the looted funds would not be stolen again.

He said, “It is sad that we continue to hear about the return of stolen funds by the former head of state.

“Funny though, the President had described the former head of state as a saint, saying he never stole anything.

“The continued return of the stolen money must be a source of worry to the President and the Federal Government that the man they had proclaimed as a saint stole to that extent.

“I am, however, worried that there is nothing to indicate that the money will not disappear again.

“There is no monument on ground to tell us what repatriated cash was spent on. So, the recently announced stolen funds may also end same way.”

The African Democratic Congress also said any literate Nigerian who still saw Buhari as a saint had only wasted his time in school.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Yemi Kolapo, wondered if a President, who defended a man who had stolen more funds than any living or dead Nigerian, could be rated high in integrity.

Kolapo said, “If the late dictator, Sani Abacha, whose stolen funds, worth several trillions of naira could run the Nigerian economy for three decades is the President’s hero, then his supporters must be enemies of Nigeria.

“What exactly is the President’s stand against corruption? All the talk about the fight against corruption under this administration is political abracadabra.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Oil Firms Borrowed N130B From Banks in February – CBN

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Operators in the downstream, natural gas and crude oil refining sectors of the Nigerian oil and gas industry borrowed N130b from Nigerian banks in February amid the significant rise in global crude oil prices.

The debt owed by the oil and gas companies rose to N4.05tn in February from N3.92bn in January, according to the latest data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria on Monday.

Operators in the upstream and services subsectors owed banks N1.26tn in February, down from N1.27tn a month earlier.

The combined debt of N5.31tn owed by oil and gas operators as of February 2021 represents 25.29 percent of the N21tn loans advanced to the private sector by the banks, according to the sectoral analysis by the CBN of deposit money banks’ credit.

Oil and gas firms received the biggest share of the credit from the deposit money banks to the private sector.

The slump in oil prices in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic hit many oil and gas companies hard, forcing them to slash their capital budgets and suspend some projects.

A global credit rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service, said last month that the outlook for Nigeria’s banking system remains negative, reflecting expectations of rising asset risk and weakening government support capacity over the next 12 to 18 months.

“Nigerian banks’ loan quality will weaken in 2021 as coronavirus support measures implemented by the government and central bank last year, including the loan repayment holiday, are unwound,” said Peter Mushangwe, an analyst at Moody’s.

The rating agency estimated that between 40 percent and 45 percent of banking loans were restructured in 2020, easing pressure on borrowers following the outbreak of the pandemic.

Another global credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings, had noted in a December 8 report that Nigerian bank asset quality had historically fallen with oil prices, with the oil sector representing 28 percent of loans at the end of the first half of 2020.

It said the upstream and midstream segments (nearly seven percent of gross loans) had been particularly affected by low oil prices and production cuts.

“However, the sector has performed better than expected since the start of the crisis, limiting the rise in credit losses this year due to a combination of debt relief afforded to customers, a stabilisation in oil prices, the hedging of financial exposures and the widespread restructuring of loans to the sector following the 2015 crisis,” it said.

The rating agency predicted that Nigerian bank asset quality would weaken over the next 12 to 18 months.

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Fall in Economic Activities in Nigeria Created N485.51 Billion Fiscal Deficit in January -CBN

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The drop in economic activities in Africa’s largest economy Nigeria led to a N485.51 billion fiscal deficit in January, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In the monthly economic report released on Friday by the apex bank, the weak revenue performance in January 2021 was due to the decline in non-oil receipts following the lingering negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic on business activities and the resultant shortfall in tax revenues.

In part, the report read, “Federally collected revenue in January 2021 was N807.54bn.

“This was 4.6 per cent below the provisional budget benchmark and 12.8 per cent lower than the collection in the corresponding period of 2020.

“Oil and non-oil revenue constituted 45.4 per cent and 54.6 per cent of the total collection respectively. The modest rebound in crude oil prices in the preceding three months enhanced the contribution of oil revenue to total revenue, relative to the budget benchmark.

“Non-oil revenue sources underperformed, owing to the shortfalls in collections from VAT, corporate tax, and FGN independent revenue sources.

“Retained revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria was lower-than-trend due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“At N285.26bn, FGN’s retained revenue fell short of its programmed benchmark and collections in January 2020, by 41.3 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively.

“In contrast, the provisional aggregate expenditure of the FGN rose from N717.6bn in December 2020 to N770.77bn in the reporting period, but remained 14.4 per cent below the monthly target of N900.88bn.

“Fiscal operations of the FGN in January 2021 resulted in a tentative overall deficit of N485.51bn.”

The report noted that Nigeria’s total public debt stood at N28.03 trillion as of the end-September 2020, with domestic and external debts accounting for 56.5 percent and 43.5 percent, respectively.

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Economy

NNPC Supplies 1.44 Billion Litres of Petrol in January 2021

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Petrol Importation - investorsking.com

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) supplied a total of 1.44 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit popularly known as petrol in January 2021.

The corporation disclosed in its latest Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR) for the month of January.

NNPC said the 1.44 billion litres translate to 46.30 million litres per day.

Also, a total of 223.55Billion Cubic Feet (BCF) of natural gas was produced in the month of January 2021, translating to an average daily production of 7,220.22 Million Standard Cubic Feet per Day (mmscfd).

The 223.55BCF gas production figure also represents a 4.79% increase over output in December 2020.

Also, the daily average natural gas supply to gas power plants increased by 2.38 percent to 836mmscfd, equivalent to power generation of 3,415MW.

For the period of January 2020 to January 2021, a total of 2,973.01BCF of gas was produced representing an average daily production of 7,585.78 mmscfd during the period.

Period-to-date Production from Joint Ventures (JVs), Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) and Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) contributed about 65.20%, 19.97 percent and 14.83 percent respectively to the total national gas production.

Out of the total gas output in January 2021, a total of 149.24BCF of gas was commercialized consisting of 44.29BCF and 104.95BCF for the domestic and export markets respectively.

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