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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

ARISE IIP and Africa Finance Corporation Launch US$ 100M Capital Pool for African Entrepreneurs

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ARISE IIP, the pan-African developer and operator of world-class industrial parks, and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the leading infrastructure solutions provider in Africa, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a dedicated US $100 million capital pool for African entrepreneurs who are establishing operations within any of the Arise IIP Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Africa. 

At the heart of this partnership is a shared vision to uplift African entrepreneurs by providing them with much needed financing and advisory services to catalyse growth.

AFC will also actively seek financing from Export Credit Agencies (ECAs), local and regional financial institutions to mobilise funding to support these companies.

This concerted effort underscores ARISE IIP and AFC’s commitment to fostering industrialisation, job creation and economic prosperity in Africa.

Under this partnership, AFC’s comprehensive suite of financial services will extend beyond financing to include financial advisory support for corporate finance, equipment financing and market entry including assisting with joint ventures and technical partnerships for sponsors that may require it, to ensure they are well-equipped to seize opportunities and thrive within the SEZs.

By tapping into AFC’s extensive network and expertise, ARISE IIP aims to cultivate a vibrant ecosystem that nurtures entrepreneurship and drives sustainable economic development across the continent.

Gagan Gupta, CEO of ARISE IIP said about this partnership: “ARISE IIP is about empowerment. By empowering our customers, and ensuring they have the robust financial support needed to meet their operational objectives, this collaboration with Africa Finance Corporation, our long-lasting partner, takes us one step closer to realising our vision of an industrialised and prosperous Africa.

Samaila Zubairu, President & CEO of AFC said: This partnership marks a significant milestone in our commitment to offer strategic financial advisory and corporate finance services to firms focused on value capture and import substitution projects in Africa. By collaborating with our investee company Arise IIP and African entrepreneurs in our Special Economic Zones, we aim to foster an ecosystem that will increase trade, create jobs, and drive economic advancement on the continent.

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United Capital Plc Reports Stellar Growth with 65% Profit Increase, Announces Dividends

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United Capital - Investors King

United Capital Plc (NGX: UCAP) has unveiled its unaudited financial results for the period ending June 30, 2024.

The company reported a 38% increase in gross earnings year-on-year to N15.15 billion. Profit before tax soared by 63% to N9.06 billion while profit after tax surged by 65% to N7.74 billion.

Total assets rose by 27% in the first half to N1.19 trillion, and shareholders’ funds increased by 33% to N120.34 billion.

These robust results have prompted United Capital to declare an interim dividend of N0.90 per 50 kobo ordinary share, alongside a generous bonus share offering of “2 for 1.”

Peter Ashade, Group CEO, expressed satisfaction with the strong financial outcomes, highlighting the company’s commitment to creating wealth and delivering superior value to shareholders.

“This marks a historic moment with our first-ever interim dividend and bonus share announcement, demonstrating our dedication to stakeholder value,” Ashade stated.

The company remains confident about sustaining its growth trajectory throughout 2024, bolstered by nearly N1.3 trillion in funds under management.

United Capital continues to prioritize activities that enhance and preserve value for stakeholders, maintaining its competitive edge and profitability.

With a focus on trusts, mutual funds, and professionally managed investments, the group is strategically positioned to achieve its growth objectives, ensuring sustainable returns for all involved.

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Banking Sector

Nigeria Plans 50% Windfall Tax on Banks’ Currency Profits

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has announced a one-time 50% tax on windfall profits that banks reaped from currency gains following last year’s naira devaluation.

This decision was part of the government’s strategy to navigate the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The naira, which has depreciated by about 70% against the dollar since foreign exchange rules were relaxed in June 2023, allowed banks holding dollar assets to significantly boost their income.

However, the Central Bank of Nigeria had advised lenders to retain these profits as a buffer against potential future losses.

The proposed tax will apply to the 2023 financial year, with non-compliance resulting in hefty fines.

The move has already impacted the NGX Banking Index, which fell by 1.3% as of midday trading in Lagos. Notable declines were seen in FBN Holdings Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, dropping 3.2% and 2.5% respectively.

This initiative mirrors similar actions in Europe, where countries like Italy and Hungary have imposed taxes on banks to address what they view as excessive profits during periods of high inflation and interest rates.

European banks have criticized these measures, warning of potential impacts on economic growth due to constrained lending capabilities.

President Tinubu’s administration believes this tax will help manage Nigeria’s fiscal challenges while addressing social needs.

Lawmakers are expected to support the measure, alongside a proposal to increase government spending by 6.2 trillion naira ($3.8 billion).

While banks have benefited from currency revaluations, many customers, particularly manufacturers with dollar-denominated loans, faced significant losses as they struggled with the weaker naira.

The new tax policy highlights the government’s broader efforts to stabilize the economy and attract foreign investment, aiming to ensure a more equitable distribution of financial gains.

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