Human Right Lawyer, Femi Falana Threatens to Sue CBN Over Withdrawal Limit
Falana noted that the new policy is in contradiction to the constitution and other relevant economic laws of the country
Foremost human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN has threatened to sue the Central Bank of Nigeria over the new policy limiting over-the-counter weekly cash withdrawals by individuals and companies to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, Falana noted that the new policy is in contradiction to the constitution and other relevant economic laws of the country, Investors King learnt.
The legal luminary stated that it is worrisome that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has “purportedly” limited cash withdrawals in Nigeria in complete defiance of the established law.
Quoting section 2 of the Money Laundering Act, 2022, Falana stated that “No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding (a)5,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of an individual; or (b) N10,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of a body corporate”.
He, therefore, argued that the new withdrawal limit is not known to law and thereby illegal since the existing law which has pegged maximum cash withdrawal to N5 million for individuals and N10 million for corporate bodies has not been amended.
“Since the Money Laundering Act 2022 has not been amended, the limitation of cash withdrawal of not more than N20,000 per day and N100,000 per week fixed by the Central Bank of Nigeria is illegal, null and void in every material. We urge the Nigerian people to ignore the illegal announcement,” the statement read.
Making an analogy of how the withdrawal limit can impede business transactions while pointing out the lack of adequate technological infrastructure to support the policy, Falana said “last week, I, despite being someone who is familiar with smartphones, made a cash transfer to someone, but the person called to tell me that he has not received the amount I sent.”
He thereafter called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the management of CBN to withdraw the ” illegal guideline and stop announcing more policies that are designed to sentence poor citizens to more excruciating economic hardship”.
CBN Denies Banks Upgrade of Operations Till License Approval
Following the increase in requests seeking operational upgrades for financial institutions, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned against taking such action until their licences are approved.
The CBN informed banks and other financial institutions who have requested for conversion of licenses to refrain from enlarging or reducing their present banking networks while their requests are still pending, Investors King reports.
This was contained in CBN’s circular ‘FPR/DIR/PUB/CIR/001/072’ to banks and other financial institutions in the country dated March 28, 2023.
The circular was titled– “Regulatory guidelines for change of operational licence for banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria” signed by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Chibuzor Efobi.
The apex bank barred financial institutions from launching new services or banking activity until otherwise approved and included in the company’s terms.
According to CBN, the regulatory guideline became imperative as more banks and other financial institutions submitted requests for upgrade or conversion to other licence regimes.
The laid down guidelines will properly guide and give explanations to eligible financial institutions on the system’s requirements.
The circular reads partly, “Under these guidelines, the following prohibitions/restrictions shall apply to eligible banks and OFIs applying for conversion or re-categorisation. The bank or OFI shall not, pending when the application is determined expand or reduce its current banking network;
“Roll-out new products and services; carry out any new strategic banking activity but the settlement of rights and obligations shall continue until extinguished in accordance with existing terms and conditions;
“Take any business decision after the conversion process has commenced, except in line with the bank’s conversion strategy submitted to the CBN; Engage in any banking activity specific to the proposed new licence; any other requirement that may be prescribed from time to time by the CBN.”
Zenith Bank Caps The Year 2022 With Impressive 24% Growth in Gross Earnings
Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ending December 31, 2022, achieving an impressive double-digit growth of 24% in gross earnings from NGN765.6 billion reported in the previous year to NGN945.5 billion in 2022. This is despite the persistent challenging macroeconomic environment and headwinds.
According to the audited financial results for the 2022 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), the double-digit growth in gross earnings was driven by a 26% year-on-year (YoY) growth in interest income from NGN427.6 billion to N540.2 billion and a 23% year-on-year (YoY) growth in non-interest income from NGN309 billion to NGN381 billion. Profit before tax also grew by 2% from NGN280.4 billion to NGN284.7 billion in the current year. The increase in profit before tax was due to the significant growth in all the income lines.
Impairments grew by 107% from NGN59.9 billion to NGN124.2 billion, while interest expense grew 63% YoY from N106.8 billion to N173.5 billion, respectively. The impairment growth, which also resulted in an increase in the cost of risk (from 1.9% in 2021 to 3.3% in the current year), was due to the impact of Ghana’s sovereign debt restructuring programme. The growth in interest expense increased the cost of funds from 1.5% in 2021 to 1.9% in 2022 due to hikes in interest rates globally.
Customer deposits increased by 39%, growing from NGN6.47 trillion in the previous year to NGN8.98 trillion in the current year. The growth in customer deposits came from all products and deposit segments (corporate and retail), thus consolidating the bank’s market leadership and indicating customers’ trust.
The continued elevated yield environment positively impacted the bank’s Net-Interest-Margin (NIM), which grew from 6.7% to 7.2% due to an effective repricing of interest-bearing assets. Operating expenses grew by 17% YoY, but growth remains below the inflation rate. Total assets increased by 30%, growing from NGN9.45 trillion in 2021 to NGN12.29 trillion, mainly driven by growth in customer deposits. With the steady and continued recovery in economic activities, the Group prudently grew its gross loans by 20%, from NGN3.5 trillion in 2021 to NGN4.1 trillion in 2022, which increased the Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratio modestly from 4.2% to 4.3% YoY. The capital adequacy ratio decreased from 21% to 19%, while the liquidity ratio improved from 71.2% to 75%. Both prudential ratios are well above regulatory thresholds.
In 2023, the Group intends to expand its frontiers as it also reorganises into a holding company structure, adding new verticals to its businesses and growing in all its chosen markets, both locally and internationally.
As a testament to its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of N2.90 per share, bringing the total dividend to N3.20 per share.
In recognition of its track record of excellent performances, Zenith Bank was recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 13th consecutive year, in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best Bank in Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, by the Ethical Boardroom; Best Commercial Bank,
Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, and Retail Bank of the year, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Most Innovative Bank of the Year 2019 by Tribune Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2020 by Independent Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.
Demola Sogunle Increases Stake in Stanbic IBTC
Dr. Demola Sogunle, the Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc has expanded his stake in the bank by 1,521,117 shares.
This was made known in a statement signed by Chidi Okezie, Company Secretary, Stanbic IBTC and made available to investing public.
The bank chief acquired the shares between 21 March and 24 March 2023 at N37.05 a unit. Meaning, he paid a total sum of N56.357 million for the acquisition.
Sogunle held 3.41 million indirect shares before acquiring more shares in Stanbic IBTC as of December 31, 2022. In 2021, he held 2.41 million indirect shares, which he increased to 3.41 million last year.
Sogunle remained the second-largest shareholder in Stanbic IBTC after Ifeoma Esiri, who holds 40.38 million direct shares and 3.11 million indirect shares valued at N1.63 billion as of December 2022.
During the financial period of 2022, Stanbic IBTC reported a gross turnover of N287.53 million, surpassing the N206.64 million generated in the previous year. The financial institution also recorded growth in its net interest income, which increased to N113.11 billion in 2022 from N75.37 billion in 2021.
In addition, Stanbic IBTC closed the year with N80.81 billion in net profit, an improvement on the N56.96 billion profit after tax earned in the corresponding period of 2021.
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