- FirstNation MD Files Preliminary Objection Against N1.7bn Theft Charge
The Managing Director, FirstNation Airways, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, on Monday approached an Ikeja Special Offences Court to quash the N1.7bn theft charge against him and his airline by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Odukoya made the request in a notice of preliminary objection filed by his counsel, Mr. Olawale Akoni (SAN), before the court presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada.
The absence of a witness for the EFCC, however, stalled the process and the judge adjourned the matter till May 21, 2018 for hearing of the application.
The defendants had in the application dated April 30, 2018, and supported by an 11-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kerry Anakwenze, asked for an order striking out the information dated December 11, 2017, for want of jurisdiction.
The application read in part, “The grounds upon which this preliminary objection are brought are that: This honourable court lacks the jurisdiction and/or competence to entertain the information/charge No. ID/239C/2012 as presently constituted.
“The information/charge No. ID/239C/2012 contravenes the provisions of Sections 249, 252 and 77 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law No. 10, 2011. Section 249 of the ACJL stipulates that prosecutorial authority before the High Court of Lagos State shall be exercised only in the name of ‘The State of Lagos’.
“The information/charge No. ID/239C/2012 filed against the applicants does not comply with Section 249 of the ACJL as stated above. This honourable court cannot countenance the information comprised in information/charge No. ID/239C/2012, as same is incompetent.”
The defendants said the charge, as presently filed by the EFCC, was an abuse of court process.
During Monday’s proceedings, the defendants’ counsel informed the court that the defence had filed a notice of preliminary objection, which had been served on the prosecution.
He also urged the court to give priority to the determination of the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charges against the defendants.
The EFCC counsel, Mrs. Zainab Etuh, confirmed that the prosecution had been served with the application but had yet to file its reply.
The EFCC had on March 16, 2018 arraigned Odukoya, alongside FirstNation Airways, and the parent organisation, Bellview Airlines, before Justice Dada on four counts bordering on forgery, use of forged documents, perjury and stealing of N1.7bn.
The court, however, granted a N10m bail to Odukoya, after he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The EFCC had alleged that the accused forged the Memorandum of Loss of Lagos State Certificate of Occupancy registered as No. 33 at page 33, volume 1011 at the Lagos State Land Registry, Alausa, in order that the document could be acted upon as genuine.
The alleged forged document, according to the EFCC, was in respect of a property located at No. 29, Oduduwa Street, Ikeja GRA, Lagos.
Odukoya was also alleged to have used the false document and also gave false information on oath concerning the loss of the Certificate of Occupancy at the Lagos State Land Registry.
The EFCC alleged that Odukoya committed the offences of forgery, use of false document and perjury on March 21, 2013, and also stole and dishonestly converted to his own use N1.7bn belonging to Skye Bank on October 7, 2016.
According to the EFCC, the offences violate Sections 85, 86(1) 278 (1) (b), 285, 361 (1),(a) (b), 363 and 364 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
Odukoya, had in a statement made available to journalists a few weeks ago, denied the charges, describing them as bogus, without basis and targeted at impugning his and the other defendants’ integrity.
High Pesticide is Reason Nigerian Beans Not Acceptable in Most Countries
High Pesticide is the Reason Nigerian Beans Not Acceptable in Most Countries
High pesticide residue is the reason exporters of Nigerian cowpea (beans) can no longer access certain foreign markets, according to the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS).
Vincent Isegbe, the Director-General, NAQS, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during a strategic engagement with the President of Cowpea Association of Nigeria, Shittu Mohammed.
Isegbe advised stakeholders to work together to address the weak cowpea value chain in order to establish a continuous market for Nigerian beans.
In a statement issued by Gozie Nwodo, the Head, Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Isegbe said “The pattern of boom and bust in cowpea export owes to the ingrained issue of high pesticide residue.
“The pesticides are largely introduced during the storage phase. The residue levels in the cowpea tend to rise above the maximum threshold set by certain Customs union and this makes the product unacceptable in crucial destinations.”
Isegbe added, “We need to make a clean break from imprudent application of storage pesticides and consolidate a reputation for producing and delivering cowpea that satisfy relevant quality criteria.”
He said Nigeria is losing thousands of jobs and foreign exchange due to the suspension of cowpea or other agricultural commodities on account of intolerable quality defects.
Wema Bank Announces Collateral Free Loans for SMEs
Wema Bank to Provide Collateral Free Loans for Small Businesses
In a bid to ease COVID-19 burden on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Wema Bank has launched collateral-free loans for all qualified SMEs.
In a statement published by the bank last week, the lender said the loans will go a long way in assisting businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It explained that the move is in line with the bank’s mission to support the fight against ravaging COVID-19.
Further break down of the bank’s statement revealed that the SMEs loan products will provide N10 million to businesses in need of working capital without collateral or security for such financial support.
The credit facility, according to the bank, is available to business owners who have an establishment in trade/general commerce, Schools, Pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres.
Wema Bank added that in order to make the loan more accessible to businesses outside its customers, both new and existing customers can access the facility without previous banking history with Wema Bank. This, it said includes those doing business in their personal names.
“The bank is also offering up to N5 million without collateral and up to 12 months repayment period to businesses that are doing trading or general commerce while school owners can get up to N10 million without collateral with also 12 months repayment period.
“Health sector businesses like pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres can also get up to N5million without collateral with up to 12 months repayment period to meet working capital needs. In an earlier communication, the bank had stressed how critical it is to support players in the health sector, especially with the realities of the time.
“For us, we will continue to put the health of Nigerians and the safety of our communities first,” said the Managing Director/CEO Wema Bank, Ademola Adebise.
“It is our joy to see players in the health sector grow during this difficult time and we encourage them to take advantage of all our support programmes to keep their businesses afloat.”
AXA Mansard Sells Entire Stake in AXA Mansard Pensions
AXA Mansard Divests Interest From AXA Mansard Pensions
AXA Mansard Insurance on Friday announced it has divested from its subsidiary, AXA Mansard Pensions, after receiving Shareholder’s approval at the Company’s Extra Ordinary General Meeting on February 13th 2020.
In the statement signed by Mrs. Omowunmi Mabel Adewusi, the Company Secretary, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and released through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Company said it commenced the divestment process by appointing Messer Rand Merchant Bank as the Financial Advisers while Aluko & Oyebode acted as the Legal Adivsers on the deal.
The company entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Eustacia Limited to sell its entire 2,067,672,000 shares or 60 percent shareholding held by AXA Mansard Insurance Plc and another 1,378,448,000 shares or 40 percent shareholding held by minority Shareholder.
Speaking on the divestment, Mr. Kunle Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc said: “This transaction marks a new step in AXA´s broader strategy to focus on and grow our Life, Property & Casualty (P&C) and Health businesses across all its geographies. The AXA Group sees great potential in the Nigerian insurance market and believes AXA Mansard is ideally placed to capture these opportunities, thanks to its market leadership positions in Health Insurance, Property & Casualty and Life Insurance. We plan to capitalize on our successes to further build our capabilities and continue to deliver the best offers & services to our customers”.
Commenting on the transaction, Dapo Akisanya, CEO of AXA Mansard Pensions Limited said, “We are confident about Verod’s strong commitment to providing the Company with the requisite support to actualize our promise to our clients and stakeholders. As a West African investor with deep local knowledge and presence, we look forward to harnessing Verod’s unique, and world-class, attributes towards setting new standards in the industry.
Verod has the capacity, expertise, and network, to support the business to continue to expand and to provide innovative solutions for the benefit of our current and future clients”
“We strongly believe that this is the ideal time to enter the market and that AXA Mansard Pensions provides an excellent beachhead from which to establish a consolidated position and gain market share,” said Eric Idiahi, Partner at Verod.
“The National Pension Commission continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to raising standards within the industry and driving pension penetration rates in the short to medium term. We believe that sustaining AXA Mansard Pension’s industry-leading investment returns, excellent customer service, as well as, expanding distribution network and product offerings will facilitate the capture of the considerable growth potential within the Nigerian pensions industry, particularly following the opening of the transfer window.”
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