Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit, asking the court “to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose spending details of the overdrafts and loans obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since May 29, 2015, including the projects on which the overdrafts have been spent, and repayments of all overdrafts to date.”
SERAP is also seeking an order to compel the president to “explain and clarify whether the $25bn (N9.7trn) overdraft reportedly obtained from the CBN is within the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the government for 2020.”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request to President Buhari, stating that: “Disclosing details of overdrafts and repayments would enable Nigerians to hold the government to account for its fiscal management and ensure that public funds are not mismanaged or diverted.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/559/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is also seeking: “an order directing and compelling President Buhari to disclose details of overdrafts taken from the CBN by successive governments between 1999 and 2015.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “Secrecy and the lack of public scrutiny of the details of CBN overdrafts and repayments are antithetical to the public interest, the common good, the country’s international legal obligations, and a fundamental breach of constitutional oath of office.”
Joined in the suit as respondents are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele.
SERAP is also arguing that: “Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts and loans would promote prudence in debt management, reduce any risks of corruption and mismanagement, and help the government to avoid the pitfalls of excessive debt.”
According to SERAP: “By the combined reading of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Freedom of Information Act, the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, there are transparency obligations imposed on the government to disclose information to the public concerning details of CBN overdrafts, loans and repayments to date.”
SERAP is also arguing that: “The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and these treaties rest on the basic principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts would also ensure that public funds are properly spent, reduce the level of public debt, and improve the ability of the government to invest in essential public goods and services, such as quality education, healthcare, and clean water.”
“It is the primary responsibility of the government to ensure public access to these services in order to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”
“Transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts and loans would also improve the ability of the government to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This means that the government would not have to choose between saving lives or making debt payments.”
“The recent overdraft of $25.6bn (about N9.7trn) reportedly obtained from the CBN would appear to be above the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the Federal Government for 2020, that is, N3.9trn, prescribed by Section 38(2) of the CBN Act 2007. SERAP notes that 5 percent of N3.9trn is N197bn.”
“While Section 38(1) of the CBN Act allows the Bank to grant overdrafts to the Federal Government to address any temporary deficiency of budget revenue, sub-section 2 provides that any outstanding overdraft ‘shall not exceed 5 percent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government.’”
“Similarly, Section 38(3) requires all overdrafts to ‘be repaid as soon as possible and by the end of the financial year in which the overdrafts are granted.’”
“The CBN is prohibited from granting any further overdrafts until all outstanding overdrafts have been fully repaid. Under the CBN Act, ‘no repayment shall take the form of a promising note or such other promise to pay at a future date, treasury bills, bonds or other forms of security which is required to be underwritten by the Bank.’”
“Similarly, the Fiscal Responsibility Act provides in section 41 that the government ‘shall only borrow for capital expenditure and human development.’ Under the Act, the government ‘shall ensure that the level of public debt as a proportion of national income is held at a sustainable level.’”
“Section 44 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act requires the government to specify the purpose of any borrowing, which must be applied towards capital expenditures, and to carry out a cost-benefit analysis, including the economic and social benefits of any borrowing. Any borrowing should serve the public good, and be guided by human rights principles.”
“SERAP has consistently recommended to the Federal Government to reduce its level of borrowing and to look at other options of how to finance its budget, such as reducing the costs of governance, and addressing systemic and widespread corruption in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that have been documented by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution; the Freedom of Information Act; the Fiscal Responsibility Act; the Central Bank Act; the Debt Management Office Act; and the country’s international legal obligations.”
“There is a statutory obligation on the respondents, being public officers in their respective public offices, to proactively keep, organize and maintain all information or records about CBN overdrafts, loans, and repayments in a manner that facilitates public access to such information or records.”
“Mandamus lies to secure the performance of a public duty in the performance in which the applicant has a sufficient legal interest.”
“Unless the reliefs sought by SERAP are granted, the respondents will not provide SERAP with the information requested and will continue to be in breach of their constitutional responsibilities and the country’s international legal obligations and commitments.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Ecobank Posts $352 Million Pre-tax Profit in Nine Months Ended September 2021
Ecobank Group, one of Africa’s leading financial institutions, posted strong revenue growth in the nine months ended September 2021. Net revenue grew by 4 percent or $52 million to $1.3 billion on the back of funded income, cash management, trade finance, mobile and online payments.
The lender disclosed in its audited financial statement obtained by Investors King on Monday.
Return on assets and tangible equity also improved by 1.3 percent and 17.9 percent, respectively, compared with 1.0 percent and 14.1 percent recorded in the nine months ended September 2020.
Strong revenue growth was recorded in the bank’s payments business, rising by 34 percent to $140 million or 11 percent of the Group’s total revenue. Ecobank Group grew profit before tax to $352 million in the period under review.
Profit available to ETI shareholders grew by $215 million year-on-year to $182 million from -$32 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2020. Customer deposits increased by $1.5 billion or 9 percent year on year to $18.9 billion, attributed to client relationships, partnerships, and increasing consumption of our digital platforms.
Customer loans increased by $334 million or 4 percent year on year to $8.9 billion. While the bank’s Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio reduced further to 6.9 percent from 7.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 9.9 percent in the third (3Q) 20.
Book value per share up 8 percent year-on-year to 6.04 cents, and tangible book value per share (TBVPS) up 11 percent to 5.52 cents.
Commenting on the company’s performance, Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO, said: “We reported strong results, reflecting the continued diligence of Ecobankers in putting our customers first and ensuring that we meet their respective needs. For the nine months period up to September 2021, we earned $352 million in pre-tax profit, a 41% increase compared to the prior year and revenues of $1.3 billion, a 4% growth. Hence return on tangible equity increased to 17.9%, and we grew the per-share value of our shareholders’ equity by 11% to 5.52 US dollar cents.
“These results also demonstrate the hard work invested in driving efficiency in all our businesses in line with our deliberate focus on driving down our cost-toserve, sustain improvement in the quality of our credit portfolio, and strengthen liquidity and capital buffers. As a result, our cost-to-income ratio has been declining consistently quarter on quarter, currently 58.3%. In addition, the stock of nonperforming loans as a percentage of loans outstanding is now at 6.9% compared to 9.9% a year ago. At the same time, we are proactively building loan reserves, currently at 91.2% of nonperforming loans, close to our near-term target of 100%.
“We have boosted the firm’s liquidity profile, thanks to growing customer deposits fueled by an acceleration in digital channel adoption, partnerships with Fintechs, Telcos, and businesses in the Payments Ecosystem,” Ayeyemi added.
“During the quarter, Arise B.V., a major institutional shareholder of ETI made a $75 million Additional Tier 1 (AT1) investment in the firm. Adding onto the $350 million Tier 2 Sustainability Note ETI successfully issued to investors in June. The AT1 further improves our Tier 1 capital and double leverage ratio and demonstrates stakeholder confidence in our strategy and business prospects,” Ayeyemi continued.
“Finally, we continue to invest in new digital and mobile capabilities to enhance customer experience, alongside the investments we are making in our people, processes, and controls, to ensure the continued resilience of our business and service delivery to our clients. I am deeply grateful to all our customers and the Ecobank team for the remarkable job.” Ayeyemi concluded.
Zenith Bank GMD, Onyeagwu Emerges “CEO of the Year” as Zenith Bank Wins ‘Most Responsible Organisation in Africa’ at SERAS CSR Africa Awards 2021
Zenith Bank’s Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has emerged CEO of the Year for a second consecutive year at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility (SERAS) CSR Africa Awards held at the weekend in Lagos.
According to the judges, he was selected for a number of reasons, including engendering a culture that promotes the continued investment in social initiatives in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Under his leadership, the Zenith Bank’s social investments totalled NGN3.285 billion in 2020, representing nearly 2% of the Bank’s profit after tax.
The judges found him worthy for his commitment to promoting sustainability and responsible business practices in Nigeria, by his frontal leadership of sustainability in Zenith Bank, thereby enabling best industry practices in the banking sector, and for his passion for reducing carbon emissions in the Bank’s operations.
Zenith Bank Plc also emerged winner in four other categories at the SERAS CSR Africa Awards, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa”.
Zenith Bank was adjudged the Most Responsible Organisation in Africa, winning the overall best sustainability award, for its continued commitment to the tenets of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, within its immediate community and in the society at large.
The Bank also emerged as the winner in the category for Reporting and Transparency for its consistency in disclosing and communicating its sustainability journey and progress annually vis-a-vis environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, in line with the guidelines and protocols set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP), NigerianExchange (NGX), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The Bank also ensures the assurance of its sustainability report by reputable independent third parties. In 2021, the Bank’s 2020 sustainability report was assured by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and disseminated through the Bank’s website for the public and sent to all relevant stakeholders, including the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC).
In the infrastructure development category, the Bank was voted winner for its nation-building initiatives and investments, including supporting efforts towards establishing basic services and functional security, governance, and economic and infrastructure systems, especially in Nigeria. As a testament to this and in demonstration of its commitment to the development (often referred to as reform, restructuring and rebuilding) of the Nigeria Police Force for the preservation of law and order, protection of life and property, and law enforcement in Nigeria, the Bank supported the Lagos State Security Trust Fund with N500,000,000.00 for the provision of security-enhancing facilities and infrastructure. This is in addition to contributions to other state security trust funds.
Zenith Bank was adjudged winner in the category for the Best Company in Promotion of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment for its Z-Woman initiative, which offers credit facilities to women-owned businesses at a single-digit interest rate and for a gender-balanced workforce (Women make up about 50% of employees). During the reporting period, the number of women and women enterprises supported by the Bank, through the Z-Woman initiative, grew by 88.7%, from 391 in 2019 to 738 in 2020.
The Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAS) is an initiative of TruCSR which celebrates and promotes investments by corporate organisations in the society through CSR and sustainability initiatives. It made its debut in 2007, and participation was opened to other countries of Africa in 2016.
The 2021 awards featured 387 projects by 97 organisations across Africa. The SERAS Jury Board consists of global thought and best-practices leaders from around the world such as Maria Sillanpaa (Finland); Nyasha Gwatidzo (Zimbabwe); Adesuwa Onyenokwe (Nigeria); Amjed Achour (Morocco); Charles Ojei (Nigeria); Ellen Gunning (Ireland); Gina Din-Kariuki (Kenya); Indira Kartallozi (England); Lampe Omoyele (Nigeria); Paul Kapelus (South Africa); and Scott Walker (England).
Having a FirstBank Salary Account Can Ease Your Money Problems, Find Out How…
“There is always a lot to spend money on, and sometimes the bills can’t wait for the salary to be paid” Tope complained when his wife informed him that they had run out of cooking gas and had to refill.
He had just moved to a new location with his family and the bills seemed to be coming at such speed that he could hardly keep up. Barely three weeks in the new apartment, the electricity bill had arrived. The new apartment was bigger than the last and their two double-seater cushions left too much space vacant in the seating room. They needed to get a couple more pieces of furniture to fill the space. His wife had not stopped reminding him of the car he promised to get, in order to ease mobility for the family.
Everyone has been a Tope at some point in time, and that is why everyone needs a financial partner like FirstBank, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services brand. FirstBank offers a variety of loan products that can help you ease off the pressure as you work towards meeting pressing and urgent needs, as well as medium-term goals.
FirstAdvance is a digital product tailored for Salary Account holders, who have an urgent cash need and would want to access salary advances from the bank. If you have held a salary account with FirstBank for up to two months, you can access 50% of your monthly net salary and as much as half a million naira (N500,000).
A physical visit to the bank branch is not required as you can access it via the FirstMobile (FirstBank’s Mobile banking app) and USSD channels. To access the service via USSD, dial *894*11# from the phone number linked with your FirstBank account. This has proved to be the solution for many people while emergencies arise before payday. There is no point in waiting for month-end before you can take on those pressing financial obligations.
FirstCredit is another digital product designed to cater for non-salaried individuals. All that is required is for your account to have been active and transacting in FirstBank for six months or more to access FirstCredit. It provides customers with quick and easy access to loans to fund urgent transactions. You do not need a smartphone or a physical visit to the bank to get this done as well. This credit facility can be accessed using a mobile phone and the USSD banking code, *894*11#. You can access as much as N300,000 to be repaid within 30 days.
No physical documentation or collateral is required, neither do you need a physical visit to the bank to access both loans. Imagine the confidence that comes with sorting out your bills within minutes and without having to wait till month-end.
Salary accounts should do more than receive your monthly payments from your employer. It should be instrumental in making your day-to-day living easier, and this is what having your salary account with FirstBank can achieve for you. You can get a Personal Loan Against Salary (PLAS) if you have a longer-term project at hand or investments to make. It may be paying school fees for your kids, acquiring assets or renovating your properties, paying rent, taking professional examinations. Customers who qualify can access Up to N50 million based on their net monthly income and rates are competitive while offering long-term and flexible repayments up to 48 months tenor.
Despite all these benefits and ease in access to loans, it literarily costs nothing to open a FirstBank Salary Account. Zero opening balance, Zero minimum daily operating balance, Zero account maintenance charge, plus you even get your first debit card issued for free.
Truly, it is always “YOU FIRST” from FirstBank.
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