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SERAP Files Lawsuit Against Buhari Over Missing N106B From 149 Ministries

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SERAP- Investors King

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari “over his failure to probe allegations that N106bn of public funds are missing from 149 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), and to ensure the prosecution of those suspected to be responsible, and the recovery of any missing public funds.”

The suit followed the grim allegations by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in his 2018 annual audited report that N105,662,350,077.46 of public funds are missing, misappropriated, or unaccounted for across 149 MDAs.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/903/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to promptly investigate the alleged missing N106 billion of public funds, ensure prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible and the full recovery of any missing public money.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “Recovering the alleged missing public funds would reduce the pressure on the Federal Government to borrow more money to fund the budget, enable the authorities to meet the country’s constitutional and international obligations, and reduce the growing level of public debts.”

According to SERAP: “Directing and compelling President Buhari to ensure the investigation and prosecution of the alleged grand corruption documented by the Auditor-General would be entirely consistent with the government’s own commitment to fight corruption, improve the integrity of MDAs, and serve the public interest.”

SERAP is also arguing that “The alleged missing public funds have hampered the ability of the indicted MDAs to meet the needs of average citizens, as the missing funds could have helped the government to invest in key public goods and services, and to improve access of Nigerians to these goods and services.”

Joined in the suit as Respondents are Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

SERAP is arguing that “It is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as it would improve respect for the rights of Nigerians, and improve their access to essential public goods and services. The suit is in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]; anti-corruption legislation, and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption; and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

SERAP is also seeking an order to compel the president “to publish full details of the yearly budgets of all MDAs, and issue regular updates that detail their expenditures, including by making any such information easily accessible in a form that can be understood by the public.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Joke Fekumo read in part: “The failure to investigate the allegations of grand corruption in the 2018 annual audited report constitutes a grave violation of the duty placed on the Nigerian government to take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances.”

“President Buhari’s constitutional responsibility to ensure the investigation and prosecution of allegations of corruption, as well as recovery of any missing public funds, is contained in Section 15[5] of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides that ‘the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’, and in the Oath of Office in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.”

“The Oath of Office of the President has considered of such importance that section 140 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the President cannot perform his or her respective official functions as President without taking the oath of office.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Finance

NNPC Secures $5 Billion Loan From African Export-Import Bank To Fund Upstream Sector

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NNPC - Investors King

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has secured a $5 billion financial commitment with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to kickstart investment in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

This follows the commencement of the implementation of the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Act.

Investors King recalls that the new Petroleum Industry Act 2021 was assented and signed into law by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on August 16th, 2021 to repeal the extant Petroleum Act 2004.

The Petroleum Industry Act was enacted to provide for the legal, governance, regulatory, and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, the establishment, and development of host communities and other related matters in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the petroleum industry.

The Act is categorised into 5 Chapters, 319 Sections, and 8 Schedules. The first chapter of the Act provides for the governance and institution of the petroleum industry. It lays emphasis on the fact that the ownership and control of petroleum within Nigeria and its territorial waters are vested in the Government of the Federation of Nigeria.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources who heads the Petroleum Industry has the powers as vested on him by Section 3(1) to formulate, monitor, and administer government policy in the petroleum industry, amongst other functions.

With the NNPC looking to expand its upstream portfolio, the funding will be critical for the Corporation as it steps up investments in new and strategic prospects.

The repayment of the fund is being projected to be made within a four to eight-year period with an objective to ensure major fiscal obligations and operating expenses are discharged appropriately.

Asides this, the NNPC and the Afreximbank agreed to also deepen the business collaboration between the two institutions.

The Afreximbank has a mandate to provide liquidity for trade and project related finance and related activities across the continent, in order to facilitate the quantitative and qualitative growth of trade on the continent.

The bank recently concluded a landmark 10-year, dual tranche facility of €200 million and US$166 million for the Government of Uganda.

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Finance

Financial Inclusion: Nigerians To Get Free Debit Cards As NIPOST Launches Banking Platform

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NIPOST - Investors King

As part of efforts in boosting financial inclusion, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) has launched its own e-debit card, agency banking platform and 27 new logistics vehicles for courier services.

The E-debit card is expected to be given free to every Nigerian at every NIPOST outlet.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim who spoke during the launch, note that the e-debit card is a multipurpose card for financial transaction, conditional cash transfer, payment of bills and more.

This development, according to him, is a commendable one and is in alignment with the government’s digital economy for achieving a digital Nigeria.

“Our target in this country by 2030 is to be completely digitalized”, he stressed.

He noted that the NIPOST banking platform will allow NIPOST to conduct financial transactions with most Universal Postal Union (UPU) member countries, adding that this is also in alignment with the proposal to come up with NIPOST Microfinance Bank.

Investors King gathered that the banking agency will function like the Point of Sales (POS) while the card will function without the internet and can be replaced easily if stolen or lost.

So far, there have been remarkable efforts by financial organizations and government agencies in achieving financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Financial Inclusion is a state where financial services are delivered by a range of providers, mostly the private sector, to reach everyone who could use them. Specifically, it means a financial system that serves as many people as possible in a country.

Financial institutions in Nigeria are increasingly using electronic channels to onboard clients and address customer queries and bring financial product offerings to prospective users.

However, this initiative does not come with its own hitches, especially in a developing country like Nigeria. In its report on ‘Financial Inclusion In Nigeria: Issues And Challenges’, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) noted that critical challenges of low financial literacy, inadequate infrastructural facilities, as well as inadequate and inefficient technology-based facilities by financial institutions, has limited the achievement of significant expansion in financial inclusion level in Nigeria.

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Banking Sector

Ecobank Grows Profit After Tax by 324 Percent in 2021

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Ecobank - Investors King

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, a pan African bank, continues to grow as key metrics hit record highs in the year ended December 31, 2021. Ecobank’s gross earnings rose by 13 percent to N952.951 billion from N841.143 billion recorded in 2020.

This was revealed in the bank’s unaudited financial statements seen by Investors King.

Revenue surged by 11 percent from N641.753 billion achieved in the same period of 2020 to N712.933 billion in 2021.

Similarly, operating profit before impairment losses stood at N294.302 billion, representing an increase of 23 percent when compared to N239.059 billion filed in 2020.

Profit before tax rose by 52 percent to N195.720 billion in the period under review, up from N129.088 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.

The bank’s profit before tax rose by an astonishing 194 percent to N195.720 billion. After income tax, profit for the year jumped by 324 percent from N33.742 billion in 2020 to N143.109 billion in the 2021 financial year.

Ecobank Group Financial Highlights for 2021

– Gross earnings up 6% to $2,327.3 million (up 13% to NGN 953.00 billion)
– Revenue up 4% to $1,741.1 million (up 11% to NGN 712.9 billion)
– Profit before tax and goodwill impairment up 41% to $478.0 million (up 52% to NGN 195.7 billion)
– Profit before tax up 174% to $478.0 million (up 194% to NGN 195.7 billion)
– Profit after tax up 296% to $349.5 million (up 324% to NGN 143.1 billion)
– Total assets up 5% to $27.3 billion (up 11% to NGN 11,560.3 billion)
– Loans and advances to customers up 4% to $9.6 billion (up 10% to NGN 4,066.4 billion)
– Deposits from customers up 7% to $19.5 billion (up 13% to NGN 8,283.2 billion)
– Total equity up 5% to $2.1 billion (up 11% at NGN 902.9 billion)

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