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EFCC Directs Bankers to Declare Assets by June 1

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Achike Udenwa

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said that operators in the Nigerian financial system, particularly bankers will start declaration of their assets as from June 1, 2021.

The EFCC Chairman, Abdulrashed Bawa, gave this directive on Tuesday while speaking with journalists at the State House, Abuja, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

He explained that the commission was worried about the roles of financial institutions in helping criminals to have access to proceeds of their crime.

“The EFCC, come June 1, 2021, will be demanding for this asset declaration forms, filled by the bankers so that the line that we have drawn from June 1 is really complied with by bankers in particular,” Mr Bawa said.

A statement signed by EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, also quoted Mr Bawa as saying that directive was in line with the Bank Employees, ETC. (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986, enacted to ensure adequate measures in sanitising the nation’s financial system.

Mr Bawa said the commission had discussed it and expressed hope that “all financial institutions, particularly the bankers, will declare their assets as provided for by the law, in accordance with the Bank, Employees Declaration of Asset Act.”

He added that action would also help to block some of the loopholes currently exploited by unscrupulous players in the sector to undermine the Nigerian economy through money laundering and illicit financial flows.

Mr Bawa said Section 1, and 7 of the Bank Employees, ETC. (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986, makes it mandatory for every employee of a bank to make full disclosure of assets upon employment, and annually in subsequent years.

“It shall be an offence for an employee of a bank to own assets in excess of his legitimate known and provable income,” Mr Bawa said.

“Let me just put this, we understood that at the tail end of every financial crime is for the criminal to have access to the funds that he or she has illegitimately gotten and we’re worried about the roles of financial institutions”.

He added that the agency has arrested about 300 cybercriminals nationwide between February and March.

“As a young man, I am appealing to all young Nigerians to desist from these cybercrime activities. It is bringing a bad image to our country. It is giving a bad name to our country. It is also chasing away a lot of foreign investment that we need.

“And I call on all parents, guardians, and, of course, elders in the community, in the society to talk to these young people to desist from these crimes.

“These are crimes that they commit online. And of course, there is nothing like patting your back to say go and sin no more. Our laws do not provide for that. It is a crime and as we say in EFCC, EFCC will get you anywhere, anytime,” Bawa said.

Education

2021 WASSCE To Hold August/ September

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The West African Examinations Council, Nigeria, says the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination will commence in August and not May.

WAEC also debunked reports by some news platforms that it postponed the examination.

In a statement on Friday, Acting Head, Public Affairs, WAEC, Nigeria, Demianus Ojijeogu, said WAEC Nigeria Head, Patrick Areghan, was quoted out of context at a briefing on Tuesday when he announced the release of results of WASSCE for private candidate

According to Ojijeogu, Areghan said the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic has distorted the academic calendars of schools, hence, it will be impossible for candidates to sit for the examination in May because most of the schools are still in their first term

The statement was titled, ‘Conduct Of WASSCE For School Candidates, 2021 In Nigeria’.

The statement said Areghan had at the Tuesday briefing said, “Let me also use this opportunity to dispel rumours being peddled about by some people regarding the conduct of WASSCE for School Candidates, 2021. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still very much felt in the education sector

“The academic calendar has been distorted. It will, therefore, not be possible to have the examination in May/June this year. A convenient International Timetable for the conduct of the examination will soon be released.”

The statement added, “The arrangement is in line with the current academic calendar and was done in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education

“Consequently, the Council wishes to inform schools, candidates and the general public that the examination will hold from August 16, 2021 to September 30, 2021. The International timetable for the conduct of the examination will be released in due course.”

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Lagos Eases Restrictions on Social Gatherings, Event Centres

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The Lagos State Government has further eased restrictions on social gatherings and event centres across the state.

This was contained in a press statement titled ‘Lagos State Government eases restrictions on social and event centres’, on Friday.

The statement was signed by Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile Yusuff, and the Director-General, Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Lanre Mojola.

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, after due consultation and deliberations with relevant “stakeholders and MDA’s including The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Lagos State Safety Commission has approved the further easing of social centres across the State with immediate effect,” it added.

Meanwhile, Akinbile-Yusuff and Mojola have issued new guidelines for social/event facilities reopening.

While stating that COVID-19 protocols must be complied with, the officials said that “any violation of this protocol shall attract fines and penalties in line with the Lagos State Infectious Diseases Control Regulation 2020”.

Some of the guidelines stated that event centres must register before reopening and event duration should not exceed a maximum period of six hours.

The guidelines read in part, “All event centres must hold a valid license of The Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture prior to operating as an event center in the State.

“Safety Marshals shall be deployed by an accredited event safety consultant from Lagos State Safety Commission for every social event with attendance exceeding over 200 people.

“Occupancy limit at any event must not exceed 50 per cent of the maximum design capacity of the hall, wherein Occupancy Limit stickers provided by the Lagos State Safety Commission must be boldly pasted at the entrance of the event hall.

“Maximum allowable capacity for Event Centers irrespective of occupancy limit is 500 people. Deep cleaning must be carried out before and after every event.

“Physical distancing shall be maintained between seated guests and a maximum number of seated guests should be six people on a table of 10 persons.

“Event duration should not exceed a maximum period of six hours.

“Event center owners/ planners/vendors would be responsible for any breach of protocols by their staff.”

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UK Court Bans THISDAY Editor and Arise TV Chairman, Obaigbena From Serving As Director Of Any Company For 7 Years

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According to the court, Obaigbena made efforts to clear some payments, but there were still large sums that remained outstanding.

The United Kingdom has disqualified the founding Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY Media, ARISE News Channel and ARISE Magazine, Nduka Obaigbena, from serving as a director of any company in the country for seven years.

The application for disqualification was made under Section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 and arose from the compulsory liquidation of Arise Networks Ltd of which Obaigbena was the sole director since its incorporation on October 30, 2012.

According to the judgement, published on BAILII, the company had zero turnovers and as of December 31, 2013, it had recorded losses of £3,854,112 and debts of £1,545,883.

Due to foreign exchange restrictions by the Nigerian government in September 2014, it was difficult to “transfer necessary funding to ARISE”.

In December 2014, the company had expense debts of more than £3 million. The debt owed to creditors led to increased pressure from late 2014 onwards due to the company’s inability to pay off its debts.

A paragraph of the judgement partly read: “As of 31 December 2014, the total losses were £12,922,174, with trade creditors (which includes those working for the company) of £3,737,445 and associates being £14,407,929. By 31 December 2015, the total losses were £24,913,106 with the trade creditors (which includes those working for the company) in the sum of £5,635,596 and associates being £19,681,779. By 22 April 2016, the total losses were £25,671,167, trade creditors (which includes those working for the company) £5,850,730 and associated companies £20,313,691. The trade creditors rose by £2,113,285 even taking into account that certain liabilities have been discharged. The associated companies’ debt during this period rose by in excess of £5 million.”

An email quoted in the judgement read, “Hi Kevin/Nduka, Happy anniversary, I have been working under contract for six months at Arise. I’ve been paid one month’s money. February’s money is three months late. Still nothing, when will I get what is owed?”

According to the court, Obaigbena made efforts to clear some payments, but there were still large sums that remained outstanding. With no certainty of when any of the payments would be made, the court took into account that it did not consider the case of dishonesty but rather unreliability.

“However, this does not mean that the case is any less serious. The public interest is served in this case, in my judgement by disqualifying Mr Obaigbena for a period of 7 years,” the judgement read.

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