After the Lekki Massacre that happened on the 20th of October, the Army denied the presence of soldiers at Lekki toll-gate and claimed that any news of shootings at the toll-gate was false.
According to the press release from Nigerian Army, it reads, “The attention of Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral video on social media in which it was alleged that civilians protesters were massacred by the soldiers at Lekki Tool Plaza. This allegation is untrue, unfounded and aimed at causing anarchy in the country. At no time did soldiers of the Nigerian Army open fire on any civilian”.
This statement was signed by Acting Deputy, 81 Division Army Public Relations, Major Osoba Olaniyi
However, Brig-Gen Ahmed Taiwo, the commander of 81 division, Military Intelligence said under cross-examination that the Army was indeed present at Lekki toll-gate.
During the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS abuse and other related matters on Saturday, it was discovered that 20 soldiers were armed with both live and blank bullets at the Lekki toll-gate on October 20.
At the request of the counsel of the #ENDSARS protesters, Mr. Adeshina Ogunlana, the committee agreed to seek ballistics and forensic experts to prove their allegations that protesters were shot at with live bullets by the soldiers and policemen.
The former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Ikeja Branch, Ogunlana, had sought to know if there were in-house experts for that purpose.
“My lord, has the panel made any arrangements for forensic experts and ballisticians”? Ogunlana asked panel chairman, Judge emeritus Doris Okuwobi on Saturday.
She said in response: “Parties are free to bring whoever they want”.
Ogunlana then agreed to make private arrangements for ballisticians and forensics experts.
In a recent report by the Cable News Network (CNN) on Lekki shooting, the news agency claimed that expended bullets were found at the scene and a high possibility that it was from Serbia.
However, Brid-Gen Taiwo reinforced his earlier statement that the soldiers were indeed at Lekki Toll-Gate and were armed with both live and blank bullets, but they only fired the blank into the air.
He also affirmed that “Soldiers were not sent to break up protests at toll gate”, but they were required to patrol the Lekki-Epe corridor and they met the #EndSARS protesters on their way there.
When asked what ammunition the soldiers left Bonny Camp with, General Taiwo said: “Vehicles and riffles.”
Olumide-Fusika asked: “They were carrying rifles. What were they carrying them for?”
Taiwo: “For shooting. Definitely, a portion of the team will carry live bullets in case they are attacked”.
Olumide-Fusika: “Why did you tell lies? Are you aware the army denied being at the toll-gate?
Taiwo: “The first statement was borne out of the necessity that we did not have full facts available to us.
“Second, nobody was sent to Lekki Toll Gate to break up any protest”.
To this, Olumide-Fusika said: “A number of my clients suffered gunshot injuries and it happened at the Lekki toll gate. Yet you still say no such thing happened?”
“Yes, My Lord,” Taiwo said.
According to Gen. Taiwo, the Oriental Hotel was been guarded by policemen when the soldiers arrived in the vicinity. He claimed that hoodlums attacked the soldiers and they had to fire blanks to clear the area.
The General agreed that the army could have followed a different route while carrying out their patrol duty, but the commander in charge of the patrol believed Lekki toll-gate was the best route.
He said some hoodlums approached the soldiers aggressively immediately they arrived at the area.
“By the time they (soldiers) fired a few shots into the air, they hightailed it.”
Responding to another question, he added, “Our mission was not to arrest, but to clear the area on the way to our destination.”
Gen. Taiwo also added that an unnamed officer was injured by a stone that hit him on the lips.
A question that begets the lips of a few concerned Nigerians is if the police return to the barracks for reinforcement after the attack with the supposed hoodlums or the reinforcement happened in preparation that hoodlums might disrupt their patrol duty.
Ecobank Partners NiDCOM to Mobilise Nigerians Abroad for National Development
In a bid to fulfill it’s objectives and mandate, the Pan African Bank has promised to support Nigerians living and working abroad through it’s partnership with NiDCOM.
The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stated that the bank is privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NiDCOM) and will continue to pursue one of its key mandates of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa through its support to Nigerians living and working abroad.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series with Ecobank as the sole banking partner which took place on Saturday, 8th May 2021, he noted that Ecobank remains a critical bridge for Nigerians abroad, as it has made huge investments in the necessary platforms to enable them connect with home seamlessly. The event held online and had over 2000 participants from across all the continents in attendance.
“Nigerians in the diaspora play a major role in nation building, their contribution goes a long way to catalyse economic development. For us at Ecobank, we are a pan-African institution positioned to foster the economic growth and integration of our continent, so we are particularly pleased to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), ably led by the Chairman/CEO, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa”.
“We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian living abroad is able to remit home seamlessly and affordably, access viable investment opportunities and as the financial institution of choice for Nigerians abroad, we have deployed the necessary resources to actualise this.” He stated.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was also present, reiterated the readiness of the government to collaborate with Nigerians in the diaspora, highlighting the new processes put in place to facilitate passport issuance, noting that all backlog of passport applications would be cleared by the end of May 2021.
Also speaking, the Hon. Minister of State, Foreign Affairs Amb. Zubairu Dada said harnessing the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in the diaspora towards the socio-economic, cultural, and political development of Nigeria can no longer be ignored. He pointed out that the Nigerian diaspora community is well educated, resourceful, skilled, and exposed to global best practices.
The NiDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri- Erewa explained that the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series is projected to be a major aspect of national discourse, where Nigerians abroad can be kept abreast of the government’s policies, programmes and projects.
Increase in Price Boosts Revenue of Dangote Sugar by 41.5 Percent in Q1 2021
Revenue of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc rose by 41.5 percent to N67.394 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 from N47.643 billion recorded in the same quarter of 2020.
According to the leading sugar manufacturer, the increase in revenue was a result of the increase in the price of sugar in the first quarter. The company claimed price adjustment was necessary to mitigate the negative effect of inflation and depreciation on the company.
Volumes only rose by 5.7 percent during the quarter despite a 41.5 percent increase in revenue, meaning the increase in price was the main sales catalyst.
In the company’s unaudited financial statements, gross profit grew from N12.721 billion in Q1 2020 to N18.044 billion in Q1 2021.
Similarly, operating profit stood at N15.884 billion, up from N10.747 billion posted in Q1 2020.
Finance cost more than double from N1.353 billion in Q1 2020 to N3.412 billion in Q1 2021.
Dangote Sugar’s profit before tax rose from N9.509 billion recorded in the corresponding quarter to N11.949 billion in the quarter under review.
The company paid N3.646 billion in income tax, slightly higher than N3.137 paid in the same quarter of 2020.
Profit for the period grew from N6.372 billion in Q1 2020 to N8.302 billion in Q1 2021.
Commenting on the company’s performance, Dangote Sugar said “EBITDA increased by 34.7% to N17.02 billion (2020: N12.64 billion) on account of increased earnings. Group profit after taxation for the period increased by 30.3% to N8.30 billion (2020: N6.37 billion) reflecting management’s unrelenting drive to deliver consistent shareholder value.”
On price increase, the company hinged it on series of devaluation carried out in 2020 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), escalating inflation, port congestion and rising in price of global sugar. Dangote Sugar said its imported raw sugar from Brazil under Federal Government’s backward integration plan.
“We have continued to witness high cost of raw materials, energy costs and other input costs due to rising inflation and FX rate fluctuation. Further cost escalation is anticipated in the year as inflationary pressure mounts,” the company said.
FBN Holdings Suffers 39 Percent Drop in Profit to N15.6 Billion in Q1 2021
FBN Holdings Plc profit after tax declined by 39 percent from N23.140 billion recorded in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 to N15.6 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
In the leading financial institution’s unaudited financial statements released through the Nigerian Exchange Limited, gross earnings declined by 14.5 percent to N137 billion in the period under review, down from N160 billion filed in the previous quarter.
Similarly, net interest income declined from N60.253 billion achieved in Q1 2020 to N52.793 billion.
Net interest income after impairment charge for losses also dipped from N50.547 billion in Q1 2020 to N39.619 billion in Q1 20201. While net fee and commission income rose from N20.773 billion in Q1 2020 to N28.427 billion in Q1 2021.
Profit before tax declined by 34 percent to N18.906 billion in the quarter under review, down from N28.680 billion posted in the corresponding quarter of 2020.
FBN Holdings paid N3.285 billion in income tax in the first quarter of 2020.
Therefore, profit for the period stood at N15.621 billion. While Net Assets contracted from N765.2 billion to N764.8 billion.
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