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Customs to Pay N5.5bn for Illegally Seized Rice

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Rice
  • Customs to Pay N5.5bn for Illegally Seized Rice

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the Nigeria Customs Service and its board chairman to pay about N5.5bn to Maggpiy Trading TFZE for unlawfully seizing 90 containers of rice imported by the company.

Delivering judgment, Justice Nyang Ekwo held that the defendants acted unlawfully and without any justification in law.

He granted all the prayers contained in the company’s suit, including awarding specific and general damages in favour of the plaintiff, and against the 1st and 2nd defendants, in the amount estimated at N3,805,638,950 and $4,796,550.

The naira value of the two sums of money amounts to N5,532,396,950.

The plaintiff had stated in its suit, marked, FHC/CA/CS/40/2017 that, on March 18, 2017, officials of the NCS invaded and sealed its warehouse, containing over 90 containers of rice stored in an air-tight condition, in the Tinapa Free Trade Zone, Calabar.

The plaintiff said after breaking into the warehouse, officials of the NCS stole part of the seized rice.

It added that the officials also detained its 40 trucks, containing 317 transit containers of rice, which were headed for the Tinapa Free Trade Zone, without lawful justification for 120 days along the Onne, Port Harcourt Road.

Justice Ekwo said the NCS and its board chairman failed to supply evidence in support of their allegation that the plaintiff was involved in rice smuggling.

The judge faulted their claim that they acted under the Federal Ministry of Finance Import Guidelines, Procedures and Documentation Requirements under the Destination Inspection Scheme in Nigeria.

Justice Ekwo held that the document relied upon by the defendant was inadmissible and worthless, having not been signed.

He added that there was no provision in the document that made it applicable to Free Trade Zones.

“I have studied the document; I cannot find anywhere it is made applicable to Free Trade Zones, which both parties have agreed, is a country within a country,” the judge ruled.

The judge frowned on the discovery that part of the seized consignments was stolen by officials of the NCS.

He said, “Another intriguing part of the defendants’ action, during the course of these proceedings, is the discovery that when stock was taken upon the unsealing of the warehouse by the 1st and 2nd defendants, 19,421 of 50 kg bags and 1,639 of 25 kg of the seized rice consignment had been pilfered by officers of the 1st and 2nd defendants.

“The 1st and 2nd defendants proferred no defence on this issue nor countered the evidence of the plaintiff.

“This, in my opinion, is a brazen act of treating the proceedings before the court with contempt apart from the reprehensible theft that the act of the 1st and 2nd defendants represents.”

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 Oil Refinery Set for December Listing on Nigerian Stock Exchange

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Dangote Refinery

The $20 billion Dangote Oil Refinery is poised to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) by December 2024, according to statements made by Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group.

Dangote, Africa’s richest man, expressed his enthusiasm for involving Nigerians, Africans, and other investors in what he described as a historic move.

Speaking to The Africa Report, he affirmed, “The listing, most likely, I won’t be surprised if we list (on the Nigerian Stock Exchange) by the end of this year. We will do that.”

This listing, expected to attract significant investor interest, could potentially add about N8 trillion to N10 trillion to the market capitalisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, as predicted by economy and capital market analyst Rotimi Fakayejo.

He said such a listing would not only distribute wealth but also attract foreign portfolio investment to the country, bolstering the economy with additional foreign exchange.

Fakayejo further elaborated on the potential impact of the Dangote refinery listing, stating, “It is also going to engender foreign portfolio investment. Such listing will affect individuals in the country and the stocks listed on the Nigerian exchange.”

David Adonri, Vice President of Highcap Securities Limited, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the significance of the listing for the Nigerian capital market.

He said the listing would provide Nigerians with the opportunity to share in the considerable wealth generated by the refinery.

However, uncertainties loom regarding the Dangote refinery’s crude oil supply chain. While Dangote confirmed the refinery’s decision to import crude oil from the United States due to fluctuating Nigerian oil production figures, Minister of State for Petroleum (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, denied knowledge of such imports.

Despite this discrepancy, Dangote defended the decision, stating, “We have tendered to buy some WTI oil from the US because the size of our refinery is very big, and we have to make sure that we secure the raw materials for our production.”

With the refinery set to attain a capacity of 500,000 barrels per day by July and reach its full capacity of 650,000 barrels per day by the end of the year, expectations are high for its transformative impact on Nigeria’s energy sector and broader economy.

The impending listing of the Dangote Oil Refinery represents a significant milestone in Nigeria’s quest for economic growth and diversification.

As stakeholders eagerly await further developments, the prospect of increased market capitalisation and enhanced investor participation holds promise for the country’s economic future.

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Retail Transactions on NGX Plummet by Nearly 55% in April

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Nigerian Exchange Group- Investors King

The retail transactions on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) declined by 54.89% in April to N100.77 billion from N223.37 billion in March.

This significant drop was revealed in the latest Domestic and Foreign Portfolio Investment Report released by the NGX.

The report highlighted that while retail transactions took a substantial hit, institutional transactions also saw a decrease, albeit less severe.

Institutional trading fell by 43.58% to N124.63 billion in April but still outperformed retail activity by a margin of 10%.

Overall, the total value of transactions executed by domestic investors continued to surpass those by foreign investors by approximately 30% in April.

However, the combined domestic transactions saw a steep decline of 49.27%, dropping from N444.28 billion in March to N225.40 billion in April.

Conversely, foreign transactions painted a more positive picture, increasing by 28.19% from N94.26 billion (approximately $70.83 million) in March to N120.83 billion (approximately $90.83 million) in April.

This surge in foreign investment activity provided a somewhat balanced view of the overall market dynamics.

Despite the month-on-month decrease, the total domestic and foreign portfolio transactions in Nigeria’s equity market amounted to N346.23 billion in April, marking a 35.71% decline compared to the N538.54 billion recorded in March.

However, the April figures still reflected a robust year-on-year growth of 81.07%, up from N191.21 billion in April of the previous year, indicating a positive trend in market activity over the longer term.

The report attributed the sharp decline in retail transactions to various market conditions and investor sentiments.

Analysts suggest that the decrease may be linked to economic uncertainties and a cautious approach adopted by retail investors in light of recent market volatilities.

Furthermore, the detailed analysis revealed that domestic investors were the primary drivers of the market, contributing N225.40 billion in April.

This trend underscores the continued dominance of local players in the Nigerian capital market.

Meanwhile, the NGX opened the new week on a slightly positive note, gaining 0.3% to reach 97,864.65 points after suffering three consecutive losses in the previous week.

The market’s year-to-date return improved marginally to 30.9% from the 30.5% recorded at the close of last week, suggesting a resilient market performance despite the recent fluctuations.

In related news, the NGX may sanction 47 companies over delayed audited reports, signaling a crackdown on non-compliance to maintain market integrity.

Also, the Federal Government listed N4.21 billion in April bonds on the NGX, contributing to the overall market activities.

While the drop in retail transactions is a cause for concern, market experts remain cautiously optimistic about the long-term prospects of the Nigerian Exchange.

They emphasize the need for strategic interventions to boost investor confidence and stabilize market activities in the coming months.

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Nigerian Brewers Post Combined Loss of N169.7 Billion

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Nigerian Breweries - Investors King

Nigerian brewers collectively faced a significant setback in the first quarter of 2024.

According to a comprehensive analysis of financial statements from leading brewing companies, including Champion Breweries Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc, International Breweries Plc, and Guinness Nigeria Plc, the industry reported a combined loss of N169.7 billion.

This downturn is in contrast to the same period last year when three of the four major brewers recorded a total loss of N54.3 billion, while Guinness Nigeria managed to eke out a modest profit of N1.84 billion.

Experts attribute this dramatic reversal to a multitude of factors, with the foremost being the steep devaluation of the Nigerian naira coupled with soaring interest rates.

The fluctuating exchange rates have exacerbated the financial woes of brewing companies, particularly those with significant dollar exposures.

International Breweries, for instance, saw its foreign exchange loss balloon to N162.2 billion in the first quarter of 2024 from an FX gain of N1.22 billion in the same period last year.

Similarly, Nigerian Breweries and Guinness Nigeria reported substantial FX losses of N72.85 billion and N37.06 billion, respectively, compared to much lower losses or gains in the previous year.

Even Champion Breweries, which did not record any FX loss in the comparative period, reported a loss of N0.74 billion in Q1 2024.

Industry analysts emphasize that the weakened naira has intensified the costs associated with servicing foreign debt obligations, further straining profit margins.

The shift to a floating exchange rate regime has led to rapid depreciation of the naira, resulting in significant FX losses across the brewing sector.

Moreover, the decline in consumer spending has added to the sector’s woes. Inflationary pressures have eroded the purchasing power and disposable income of consumers, forcing them to prioritize spending and seek cheaper alternatives.

Femi Egbesola, the national president of the Association of Small Business Owners of Nigeria, notes that inflation has significantly reduced consumers’ purchasing power, impacting their willingness to spend on alcoholic beverages.

Furthermore, increased competition from alternative beverages and a more diverse range of beer options have intensified market competition, squeezing profit margins for brewing companies.

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