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House Summons Malami for Halting Repatriation of $60bn Loot

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National Assembly

The House of Representatives has again summoned the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) for allegedly halting the repatriation of $60 billion loot from Texas, United States of America.

The Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots – Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the federal government for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation, Hon. Adejoro Adeogun, summoned Malami yesterday in Abuja when a former Special Prosecutor to the Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP), Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, appeared before the committee.

He also revealed that before the panel, which was headed by Okoi Obono-Obla was disbanded, it investigated the Auditor-General of the Federation for the withdrawal of N10 billion from the account of NHIS in two tranches.

Ojaomo also revealed that the panel investigated a Director in a Ministry and recovered 86 luxury vehicles, adding that some of the vehicles are bulletproof cars worth the sum of N700 million.

He also pointed out that a certain account domiciled at Polaris Bank was uncovered by the panel where the sum of $223 million was kept under the guise of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) operations account.

Ojaomo added that the account was not linked to the Treasury Single Account (TSA), but a standalone account of NNPC.

He said the panel invited the bank to explain what the money was meant for, adding that when the explanation of the bank was not satisfactory, it was ordered to remit the money to TSA, and the bank later pleaded that it should be allowed to pay N10 million every month.

The Special Prosecutor noted that after the Chairman of the Panel and some members were suspended in 2019, the AGF was directed to take over the cases being investigated by the panel.

He stated: “The projection of the panel based on what we were working with at that time, we had a projection of even making other foreign recoveries, because intelligence was given to the panel that the sum of $60 billion belonging to the Nigerian government is currently domiciled in Texas, United States of America, at that time, which the panel has started working on making recovery. The money was stolen from Nigeria through the NNPC. All this has been taken over by the AGF.”

In his ruling, the committee chairman said the allegations were weighty, saying there was a need to ask the AGF to cause an appearance.

Adeohun said, “These are weighty allegations; at this stage, we will have to stop you; not that we are trying to stop you from speaking, but because like we said in my place, you don’t shave a man behind him when he is not there. We think we will have to recall you at a different date and we will ask the Attorney General to make a reappearance here so that you can present this to him. You will avail us of all these documents so that we will formally write a letter to him.

“This is not just inviting him to come and speak now, you have made weighty allegations alleging that this money belonging to Nigeria could have been recovered but for some reasons he sat on them for whatever reasons. I don’t want to believe that that’s really what happened but that’s the allegation they have made.”

Earlier, the Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, while appearing before the committee revealed that the federal government through the Ministry of Justice entered into a trilateral agreement with the US, United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland for the repatriation of looted funds.

He added that an agreement has been reached with the US government for the repatriation of $311 million, while an agreement had been reached with the UK government for repatriation of £4.2 million and €5.5 million from the Republic of Ireland.

Orji added, “We are aware that there is an agreement struck with the Ministry of Justice and counterpart countries. We’ve been notified that they have reached this agreement, that the funds will be sent to us, but we have not received it.”

Also, the Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said at the moment that the anti-graft agency had recovered N2.1 billion.

He said, “As of today, what is there is N2.1 billion. Over time, however, the cumulative of what we received is over N7 billion and N5 billion has gone back to the government. It has taken it over time.”

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Economy

Ogun Records N13.3B Internally Generated Revenue Monthly in Q1 of 2021

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Revenue - Investors King

Ogun State Government has recorded an average of N13.3billion monthly as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the first quarter of 2021.

The government said it is also planning to raise its yearly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate from the current single digit by 25 percent.

The Commissioner for Finance, Dapo Okubadejo disclosed this to newsmen in Abeokuta ahead of the state’s investment summit tagged: ‘OgunIseya21: Becoming Africa’s Model Industrial and Logistics Hub’, slated for July 13th-14th, 2021.

Okubadejo who doubles as the State’s Chief Economic Adviser noted that the state’s IGR had experienced an upward movement after last year’s shortfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown.

“We had a significant turnaround in the first quarter of this year. In fact, as of April, we have done almost N40bn in the Internally Generated Revenue. Our target this year is to exceed all the previous records we have set in IGR. That’s why we have put in place, all these transformation initiatives, friendly policies and also facilitate this investment summit to further showcase Ogun State as the preferred industrial destination,” he said.

The Finance Commissioner was supported in highlighting the investment potentials of the summit by his counterparts from the Ministries of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Kikelomo Longe; Works and Infrastructure, Ade Adesanya; Culture and Tourism, Toyin Taiwo; Budget and Planning, Olaolu Olabimtan and the Director-General, Public-Private Partnership, Dapo Oduwole.

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Unemployment To Push More Nigerians Into Poverty – NESG

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Nigerian Economic Summit Group- Investors King

On Friday, The Nigerian Economic Summit Group said that many more Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap amid rising unemployment in the country.

The NESG, a private sector-led think-tank, noted in its economic report for the first quarter of 2021 that the country’s economic growth in the period under review was relatively weak.

It said, “Nigeria’s economic growth trajectory is better described as jobless and less inclusive even in the heydays of high growth regime in the 2000s.

“While the Nigerian economy recovered from the recession in Q4 of 2020, the unemployment rate spiked to its highest level ever at 33.3 percent in the same quarter.

“With the COVID-19 crisis heightening the rate of joblessness, many Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap, going forward.”

The group noted that the World Bank estimated an increase in the number of poor Nigerians to 90 million in 2020 from 83 million in 2019.

“This corresponds to a rise in headcount poverty ratio to 44.1 percent in 2020 from 40.1 percent in 2019. The rising levels of unemployment and poverty are reflected in the persistent insecurity and social vices, with attendant huge economic costs,” it said.

According to the report, huge dependence on proceeds from crude oil, leaving other revenue sources unexplored, indicates that Nigeria is not set to rein in debt accumulation in the short to medium term.

The NESG noted that public debt stock continued to trend upwards, with a jump from N7.6tn ($48.7bn) in 2012 to N32.9tn ($86.8bn) in 2020.

It said public debts grew by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020, adding, “This is partly due to the need for emergency funds to combat the global pandemic and alleviate its adverse economic impacts on households and businesses.”

According to the group, Nigeria needs more than an economic rebound, and there is a need to improve growth inclusiveness.

It said, “Nigeria has struggled to achieve inclusive growth for many decades. Since recovery from the 2016 recession, the economy has been on a fragile growth path until it slipped into another recession in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This suggests that the country needs to attain high and sustainable economic growth to become strong and resilient.

“The relationship between economic growth and unemployment rate in Nigeria suggests that economic growth has not led to a reduction in the unemployment rate – jobless growth.”

The NESG said to reverse this recurring trend, there was an urgent need for collaborative efforts between the government and relevant stakeholders towards addressing the constraints to value chain development in high-growth and employment-elastic sectors, including manufacturing, construction, trade, education, health and professional services, with ICT and renewable energy sectors as growth enablers.

It noted that despite the re-opening of the land borders that the Nigerian government shut since October 2019, inflation reached a four-year high of 18.1 percent in April 2021.

“While we expect improved agricultural production in coming months to partially ease inflationary pressures, this positive impact could be suppressed by recurring key structural bottlenecks including insecurity in the food-producing regions, electricity tariff hike, fuel price increase and hike in transport and logistic costs,” it added.

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IMF Queries FG Strategies On Fuel Subsidy, Unemployment, Inflation

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IMF - Investors King

The International Monetary Fund has raised the red flag over Nigeria’s resumption of petrol subsidy payments, describing it as injurious to the economy.

It also reiterated the importance of introducing a market-based fuel pricing mechanism and deployment of well-targeted social safety nets to cushion any adverse impact on the poor.

In a report produced after a virtual meeting with Nigerian authorities from June 1 to 8, the IMF also expressed concerns over the rising unemployment and inflation rates, even as it admitted that real Gross Domestic Product was recovering.

The IMF team, led by Jesmin Rahman, further hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria for its efforts at unifying the exchange rate by embracing needed reforms.

The Fund said: “Recent exchange rate measures are encouraging, and further reforms are needed to achieve a fully unified and market-clearing exchange rate.

“The resurfacing of fuel subsidies is concerning, particularly in the context of low revenue mobilisation.

“The Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Following sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, GDP growth turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 percent (y/y) in Q1 2021, supported by agriculture and services sectors.

“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 percent, owing to high food price inflation. With the recovery in oil prices and remittance flows, the strong pressures on the balance of payments have somewhat abated, although imports are rebounding faster than exports and foreign investor appetite remains subdued resulting in continued FX shortage.

“The incipient recovery in economic activity is projected to take root and broaden among sectors, with GDP growth expected to reach 2.5 percent in 2021. Inflation is expected to remain elevated in 2021, but likely to decelerate in the second half of the year to reach about 15.5 percent, following the removal of border controls and the elimination of base effects from elevated food price levels.”

The IMF also recognised that tax revenue collections were gradually recovering but noted that with fuel subsidies resurfacing, additional spending for COVID-19 vaccines and to address security challenges, the fiscal deficit of the Consolidated Government is expected to remain elevated at 5.5 percent of GDP.

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