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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.

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Intra-Regional Trade Potential a Key Focus in New Report

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A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the African Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO), shines a spotlight on the continent’s rapidly developing industrial sector, which is poised to become a key driver of broader economic growth as regional integration increases.

Titled ”Economic Zones in Africa – Focus Report”, the report was launched at the AEZO’s 6th Annual Meeting II, which took place on November 25 at the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat office in Ghana, with participants also able to attend remotely. The meeting was held under the banner “Connecting African Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to Global Value Chains at the era of the AfCFTA” and explored a range of topical issues relating to SEZs, from their potential to boost trade to the impact of Covid-19 on the continent’s supply chains.

The focus report examines the wealth of benefits that the AfCFTA is expected to deliver to both Africa’s economic zones and the businesses located in them, which range from greater market access to a reduction in trade barriers and lower production costs.

The disruption that the pandemic brought to supply chains and the opportunities emerging from the health crisis for businesses to become part of nascent regional value chains across a more closely connected continent are a key focus.

The report also charts the digital transformation taking place in many of Africa’s economic zones, as businesses make the move away from traditional segments to high-tech processes and digital services, adding value to their offerings in the process.

In addition, it provides in-depth analysis of the drive evident among many SEZs to put environmental, social and governance principles and sustainable business practices at the heart of their strategies, at a time when ethical investment and alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals are high on the global agenda.

The report includes in-depth case studies and viewpoints by representatives from key industry players namely: Tanger Med; Polaris Parks; Lagos Free Zones; Ghana Free Zones Authority; Misurata Free Zone; and Sebore Farms.

It also includes a contribution from Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General, AEZO, in which he highlights the role that SEZs are playing in the continent’s industrial transformation and the importance of supporting their development.

“Economic zones can play a game-changing role in Africa’s diversification and inclusion by providing end-to-end solutions and services that support industrial upgrades and increase countries’ attractiveness for investment,” he said. “With the implementation of AfCFTA and the post-Covid-19 recovery that the world is beginning to experience, we believe that real investment opportunities exist in Africa at this moment, which can translate into job creation and social and economic development. Africa has resources that need to be developed and economic zones can play a key role in this.”

Bernardo Bruzzone, OBG’s Regional Editor for Africa, added that while African economic zones had experienced production problems during the pandemic due to global supply chain disruptions, ongoing remedial action, including new infrastructure and human capital development, would help provide resilience against future external shocks.

“Africa’s real GDP growth is forecast to reach 3.4% in 2021, with an increase in intra-regional trade and improved connectivity among the facilitators of economic recovery,” Bruzzone said. “Looking ahead, we see economic zones as having a key role to play in helping the AfCFTA achieve its potential through the development of new strategies that will lead to a more diverse, higher-value range of exports.”

The study forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.

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Lagos Budget N1.4 Trillion for 2022, Budget Surpasses Five Other Southwest States Combined

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Lagos state government has proposed N1.388 trillion budget for the year 2022. The proposed budget was presented to the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

While presenting the proposed budget, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the State would be spending N325 billion on vital infrastructure projects in key sectors to energise and expand the growth of the State’s economy.

The key areas of growth identified by the Governor include Works and Infrastructure, Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Agriculture, Transportation, Energy and Mineral Resources, Tourism, Entertainment and Creative Industry, Commerce and Industry, Wealth Creation and Employment.

The proposed budget, christened “Budget of Consolidation”, will be the last full-year fiscal plan of the State before the next general election.

About N823.4 billion, representing 59 per cent of the 2022 budget, is earmarked for capital expenditure. Recurrent expenditure, representing 41 per cent, is N565 billion, which includes personnel cost, overhead and debt services.

Of the total proposed expenditure, N1.135 trillion would accrue from Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) and federal transfers, while deficit financing of N253 billion would be sourced from external and domestic loans, and bonds projected to be within the State’s fiscal sustainability parameters.

The State would be earmarking an aggregate of N137.64 billion, representing 9.92 per cent of the 2022 budget, for the funding of green investment in Environment, Social Protection, Housing and Community Amenities.

This financial proposal is presented with a sense of duty and absolute commitment to the transformation of Lagos to a preferred global destination for residence, commerce, and investment. The budget projects to see a continuing but gradual recovery to growth in economic activity as the global economy cautiously recovers from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic,” the governor said while presenting the budget to the house.

Meanwhile, the 1.388 trillion budgeted for 2022 is higher than the budget of the five other southwest states combined. For 2022, Ekiti State’s budget is 100.7 billion, Osun 129.7 billion, Ondo 191billion, Oyo 294 billion. Ogun’s budget for 2022 is not yet finalised, but going by their 2021 budget of 339 billion, the combined budget of the five South-West states then amount to 1.053 trillion. With this, Lagos state budget is higher than the five states budget with a difference of 335 billion.

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Nigeria’s Export Trade to Surpass $100 Billion by 2030 – Report

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New research conducted by the Standard Chartered Bank has predicted that Nigeria’s export trade will reach an amount of $112 billion in 2030, and will then be recording a Year-on-Year increase of 9.7 percent.

The research also led to the projection that India, Indonesia and Mainland China will be the major avenues leading to an increase in the country’s involvement in global trade.

The research is titled “Future of Trade 2030: Trends and Markets to Watch,” and also projected that the global exports trade will grow from $17.4 trillion and reach $29.7 trillion between 2021 and 2030. It was also projected that the trade will be largely moved by 13 markets, some of which are Bangladesh, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mainland China and Kenya. Others that will drive the trade are Nigeria, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

The report added that the Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa will have the biggest share of fast-growing markets in the future. It also said that these three regions will see an increase in investment flows, with about 82 percent of respondents in the research confirming their desire to bring up new production locations in these regions within the next five to ten years. This act would support the trend towards rebalancing to upcoming markets and greater risk diversification of supply chains.

The research also said that global trade will be revamped by five vital trends, which are the wider adoption of sustainable, fair-trade practices, demand for more inclusive participation, greater risk diversification, increased digitization and a rebalancing towards high-growth upcoming markets.

Close to 90 percent of the corporate leaders contacted for the study agreed that these five trends will shape the future of trade and form part of their five to ten-year expansion strategies across borders.

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