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[COMMENTS AND ISSUES] Are Nigerias enthusiastic about retrieving Nigeria? - Andrew A. Erakhrumen
Diezani Alison Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources has initiated a process at the Federal High Court, Abuja, to reverse the final forfeiture orders on her properties in Nigeria and abroad.
In a fresh motion filed by her lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), in Abuja, before the Federal High Court, Diezani is seeking, among others, an order extending the time within which to seek leave to apply to the court for an order to set aside the public notice by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to conduct a sale on her properties.
She said the motion is intended against the recent notice by the EFCC for the forfeited assets disposal, some of which included that of the former minister.
In a supporting affidavit, the former minister also noted that the EFCC planned to conduct a public sale of all forfeited assets, beginning from January 9 as contained in its public notice following various court judgements and orders in favour of the commission as final forfeiture orders against property and personal effects linked to her.
Seeking five reliefs, she argued, among others, that she was not heard before the orders for forfeiture were issued, thereby denying her rights.
She added that various courts issued the forfeiture judgement regarding her assets without jurisdiction.
She said, The various court orders were issued in breach of the right to fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, and other similar constitutional provisions.
She stated that she was neither served with the charge sheet and proof of evidence in any of the charges nor any other summons, howsoever and whatsoever, in respect of the criminal charges against her before the court.
The courts, she said, were misled into making the final forfeiture orders through suppression or non disclosure of material facts.
EFCC, in its counter affidavit, faulted Diezani’s arguments, stating that not only was she represented in some of the proceedings, but publications were also made to alert interested parties about pending forfeiture applications.
Rufai Zaki, the commission official, who claimed to be part of the team that investigated a case of official corruption, money laundering and criminal conspiracy against the former minister and others involved in the case, said an investigation showed that she was involved in some acts of criminality.
Zaki stated that following his team’s findings, she was charged before the Federal High court in a charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018.
The official recalled that a man identified as Nnamdi Awa Kalu represented the former minister in the hearing of one of such forfeiture applications.
The Department of State Services, DSS, has arrested some members of an organised syndicate selling the new Naira notes in parts of the country.
Although the DSS did not disclose the names and locations of the suspects, the agency said in a statement on Monday that some commercial bank officials were aiding and abetting the act.
The statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, warned that the Service would go after those involved in the malfeasance.
The statement said, “The Department of State Services (DSS) hereby informs the public that it has intercepted some members of organised syndicates involved in the sale of the newly redesigned naira notes. In the course of its operations, in this regard in parts of the country, it was also established that some Commercial Bank officials are aiding the economic malfeasance.
“Consequently, the Service warns the currency racketeers to desist from this ignoble act. Appropriate regulatory authorities are, in this same vein, urged to step up monitoring and supervisory activities to expeditiously address emerging trends.
“It should be noted that the Service has ordered its Commands and Formations to further ensure that all persons and groups engaged in the illegal sale of the notes are identified. Therefore, anyone with useful information relating to this is encouraged to pass the same to the relevant authorities”.
Clarifies how he established contact with bandits through an intermediary
Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a controversial Islamic cleric, who is known for his contact with bandits and herdsmen terrorizing the North-West and North-Central parts of Nigeria, in the second part of his interview with Vanguard’s columnist, Donu Kogbara, and a British journalist, Patrick, speaks on the 2023 polls and the main contenders, Fulani herders/locals crisis and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) secessionist bid in the South-East among other issues in the polity. Excerpts:
Has negotiation ever worked? I mean, if you look at what Daesh has done in Iraq and Syria, there’s nothing about that group that indicates they would negotiate?
ISWAP and IPoB are the only two groups that want to destroy the nation. How do you deal with them? You deal with them through dialogue. When you dialogue with somebody, you understand the complexity of his agitations and what he is looking for. You can use their factions to fight them back. If you can get Boko Haram online and Ansaru online, they can take care of ISWAP. And the IPoB, south-easterners who are ready to remain in Nigeria are negligible.
What do you think is the standing of groups like ISWAP, Boko Haram and Ansaru among the generality of the people of the North because northerners seem to have suffered more from their attacks than anything else?
Oh yes, definitely. They don’t have any ground in the North. They don’t have — they can only live in the forest. But you don’t hear them in malls preaching or in — nobody accepts them, nobody accepts their ideology, nobody.
Former Emir Sanusi of Kano criticized the ideology of Boko Haram, ISWAP and so on. He said the problem was that a lot of mainstream Islamic teachers are unwilling to condemn these groups because of the pushback from local people. Is that true?
No, I think it is a perception. The local people are far away from accepting this ideology.
Are they afraid of that?
No, if they captured a village or something like that, people just have to succumb to them. But like, for instance, in the Kaduna area, nobody is following them. In Kano and Sokoto, nobody is following them. The general population is not following them. They tax their local people. So, in some sense, those local people have to respect those groups as the authority… But they don’t follow their ideology.
If this goes on, you’re in a bit of a situation where the constitutional authority, state governments and police forces will become irrelevant…
No, they can’t get more control. It is like a burning candle. Yes, they are strong now, but there are mistakes the government is making. We hope if we have a government that listens, it will take proactive methods to pipe it down.
For instance, Ansaru is ready for peace. They are ready to sit down, but they want a genuine partner in this talk. In the end, they may require us to give them a place where they can do their religious practices, whilst they are not armed. I don’t see any problem with that.
We have the Zakzaky movement. When it started, they were saying it was Boko Haram. You take these people out of their ignorance. Killing will not solve the problem.
So, could you explain how these groups came to approach you?
They didn’t contact me. They contacted my media expert. As I was going into the forest, I was talking with herdsmen. You have to differentiate them from herdsmen. The herdsmen insurgency is different from Ansaru who just came in recently.
What is the difference between the two?
Herdsmen are the indigenous people in the forest. They’re fighting back against vigilantes that have been killing them and preventing them from going to the market. Unfortunately, the government took sides. Instead of the government being in the middle, it is supporting the vigilantes. The government was arming vigilantes against the herdsmen. That is why they have become armed and wild.
They control the forest, but Ansaru is a different element that came into the vicinity. They have a symbiotic relationship with herdsmen. We don’t want the herdsmen to adopt their ideology. They contacted my media expert because he portrays facts about the crisis without putting political or religious sentiments.
When did these herdsmen become a problem?
It actually started in 2010. That was when their cattle were rustled. They were displaced from their land and the military came to kill a lot of them in the name of fighting cattle rustling. This is the genesis. And the volunteers started killing them too. They are the victims of cattle rustling and they ended up being killed. That is why they took arms. This is an insurgency.
They are taking arms to fight back. I have been there. I have talked to them. I have sat down with them. I have seen them. If they get a partner who would encourage them to drop their arms, they will do that.
They want a government that will build schools, and hospitals and take their children to schools. I built a school in the forest. And as of now, I’m taking care of about 600 women, children and men.
Why can’t the state do that? So, why did cattle rustling start there? Somebody wants to destabilize the region. They want to deprive the herdsmen. Their cattle were rustled, their land was confiscated and they revolted. This is just a revolt.
Who wanted to destabilize the region?
Many people are pointing fingers, I will not mention names. There are foreign interests. People are interested. You know, there are a lot of solid minerals in this area and some people want to destabilize the area so that they can capitalize on it. Even foreigners are involved.
How many foreigners were caught in the bush? Fulani in Mali have herds of cattle. They would come here to kill. He has his land and his cattle. What is he coming to Nigeria to do?
In fact, it is the opposite. Many Nigerian Fulani has gone to Niger. Some have gone to Cameroon. They are dispersed because of the tension now. They are leaving Nigeria and going to other countries to hide with their cattle.
Do you feel Fulani people in Nigeria are getting a reputation for being blamed for the instability?
There are two types of Fulani. There are Fulani that is herdsmen. Traditionally, they inherited cattle. They will tell you “these cattle we inherited about five generations ago”. They have refused to educate themselves. They only have cattle as their capital. And there are Fulani all over the town. In fact, I don’t think there’s any tribe that has intermarried with other tribes than the Fulani. If you go to the East, you will see a Fulani-speaking Igbo. I have seen a Fulani who speaks Igbo. I have seen a Fulani who was speaking Yoruba.
I have seen a Fulani who was speaking other languages. And in the Hausa area, a lot of these people you see are Fulani. That is why they coined the word Hausa/Fulani. After all, there are Fulani that turned into Hausa. And these herdsmen are fighting anybody, whether you are Fulani or not. Once you are a town dweller, you are part of the government. You are part of the people that are cheating them. They will fight you.
President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that no single government could solve the problems confronting Nigeria, noting that it will take combined efforts of successive administrations to address the challenges.
Represented by Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, the President, who spoke yesterday in Abuja at the State of the Nation Dialogue, with the theme, “Security, Economy and Administration of Justice, organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), reminded lawyers that they have a responsibility towards a smooth running of the country.
His words: “This is the direction to go. I want to thank you for restoring the hope of Nigerians. I want to believe the Bar would provide the necessary leadership. I hope that in the course of the discussion, we would be able to bring out a playbook that would provide the guided processes for the incoming regime.
“I will say that no one government in this country would be able to solve the problems of Nigeria. But as we build on the precedent set by successive governments, not discarding completely what has been put in place, we would in the course of our desire to build a Nigeria of our dream, be able to pick one or two things on which we can concentrate.
“As a government, the outcome of this dialogue can be transmitted to us so that whatever resolutions are reached will become part of the documents that we will prepare as we transit and hand over to an incoming government.”
Also speaking, Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, stated that fixing primary education was a sure way of addressing insecurity in Nigeria.
NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), expressed the need to continuously engage government at all levels to provide Nigerians with sufficient information to guide them in the choice of leaders.
According to him, Nigerians must be satisfied with the practical solutions being proposed by those seeking elective offices with regards to current security, economic and political challenges confronting the most populous black nation.
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has outlined a number of initiatives he intends to put in place to set Nigeria’s economy on the path of growth if given the mandate to preside over the nation’s affairs.
Atiku said this in a written response to last week‘s decision by Moody’s Investors Service (The Moody’s) to downgrade the Nigerian Government’s Credit Rating from B3 to Caa1 which he described as “a very significant downgrade.”
The PDP candidate’s written response was made available to Vanguard, by his Media Office, in Abuja, late on Monday.
Atiku said, “If given the opportunity to lead the country, I will act differently and change the economic direction of Nigeria for the better. I will undertake far-reaching fiscal restructuring to improve liquidity and the management of our fiscal resources.
“Among others, I will undertake an immediate review of government spending with a view to eliminating all leakages arising from subsidy payments.
“Second, I will stop all fiscal support to ailing and under-performing State-Owned enterprises.
“Third, I will take steps to improve spending efficiency by gradual reduction of government recurrent expenditures.
“Fourth, I will undertake a review of government procurement processes to ensure value-for-money and eliminate all leakages.
“Finally, I will focus on non-debt financing by promoting a private sector-led Infrastructure Development Fund for the financing and delivery of key infrastructure projects.“
He earlier noted that Moody’s decision which wasn’t unexpected brought to the fore the FGN’s deteriorating fiscal and debt position and its lack of capacity to respond to same; it notes the ‘exacerbating policy trading-off’ between debt servicing and the financing of critical sectors, including education, health, and other social programmes.
“ It also notes the government’s inability to curtail its addiction to deficit financing and its appetite for more funds from the Central Bank’s Ways and Means.
“All three observations are a direct indictment of the country’s political leadership for its failures in the management of our fiscal resources.
“ The APC-led government lacks the critical competencies to initiate and implement innovative solutions to our problems and deliver on their mandate with the desired impact.“
Data from the National Universities Commission revealed that no fewer than 19 federal, state and private universities were approved for operations between January and December 2022, The PUNCH reports.
A breakdown of the 19 approved universities revealed that only one federal university, King David Umahi University of Medical Sciences, in Uburu, Ebonyi State, was approved in 2022.
Further analysis revealed that a total of six state universities were approved in 2022.
The Lagos University of Education, Ijanikin; the Lagos University of Science and Technology, Ikorodu; the Shehu Shagari University of Education, Sokoto; the Enugu State University of Medicine and Applied Sciences, Igbo-Eno; and the Emmanuel Alayande University of Education, Oyo State, are among them.
Further analysis revealed that the remaining 12 approved universities were all privately owned.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Adamu, has said that promoters of private universities should see their interest in investing in the sector as their contribution to building the university sector and not for profit making.
He said this recently when the promoters of the proposed Amadeaus University to be located at Amizi, Abia State, visited the commission to submit a request for a second verification visit to the proposed university.
This was made known in the commission’s bulletin, which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday.
The bulletin partly reads, “The Executive Secretary noted that the Commission would continue to encourage well-meaning Nigerians to come on board and contribute to the development of private universities in the country.
“He said Nigeria currently has a total of 111 private universities spread across the country’s regions, but the nation still needed more because millions of youths who desired to earn university degrees could not do so due to limited access.
“The commission always likes to see and encourage people who desire to give back to society.”
The scarcity of the new naira notes took a worse turn on Monday as currency racketeers took advantage of the situation to exploit Nigerians who were desperate to obtain the currencies.
In Abuja, the nation’s capital, Lagos, Anambra and other states, black marketers were observed selling the new notes to those who could not endure the long queues at Automated Teller Machine stands.
A currency seller, Abdul Mohammed, operating under Dei-Dei pedestrian bridge in the Federal Capital Territory, said the inability of banks to distribute the new notes has increased the demand for them.
“We normally sell N10,000 for N13,000 and N20, 000 for N26,000. I will provide all the denominations you want. I have N200, N500 and N1,000 new naira notes,’’ he offered.
When asked if he could supply N600,000 new notes, he promised to notify our correspondent when the notes were available for collection.
He said, “The new notes are very scarce and that is why we charge more. Getting the new notes is very tough and expensive for us. The issue of changing the notes has caused a lot of problems. There is high demand for it. I get the notes at very expensive rates too.
“It is also not available at banks because people are rushing to buy it there; we are not enjoying the business at this time.
“We sell a bundle of 200 notes for N300,000; N500 is even cheaper than that. Some get it from the bank but it gets exhausted quickly.”
A currency exchange operator, who chose to remain anonymous, explained that the currency exchangers maintain a relationship with bank staff, adding, however, that they do not pay for the currencies, except by way of incentives or when there is an increase in demand.
“Currency exchangers basically form relationships with bank staff. If I need an amount, all I do is put a call through to my contact in the bank, ask for the availability of what I need, find out the buy rate, and buffer it by N5-N10 to resell.
“Most times, we don’t offer the bank staff anything. We just give incentives once in a while. Except there is high demand and limited supply, that’s when they can demand something. N50,000 mint (new notes), for example, could resell for about N53,000 or N60, 000, at most,’’ he explained.
Banks in Onitsha, Nnewi, Obosi, Nkpor, Ekwulobia and some parts of Awka in Anambra State did not open as a result of the Monday sit-at-home.
One of our correspondents, who went round the cities, noticed that most of the ATMs were switched off while the few ones that were working were still dispensing the old notes even as they were besieged by a huge crowd of customers.
In the early hours of Monday, The PUNCH gathered that two persons who had a public address system, went around some streets of Onitsha and Nkpor, asking the residents to come out and buy the new notes.
The unidentified individuals were said to have insisted on collecting N3,000 on every N10,000 withdrawal of the new notes.
Our correspondents who visited some parts of Lagos and Ogun states, including Ikeja, Egbeda, Ikotun, Idimu and Magboro, observed that the racketeers had taken over the naira swap initiative in alleged deals between them and some bankers.
The PUNCH observed that the currency racketeering was on full display at Access Bank located on Ikorodu Road in Lagos on Monday.
A resident, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, said, “I went to the Access Bank to withdraw some money. Out of all the nine Automated Teller Machines on the bank premises, only one was dispensing the new notes with a N20,000 withdrawal limit.”
“However, due to the long queue of customers on the bank premises, a woman whom some people had accused of using different ATM cards to empty a nearby Zenith Bank machine began to sell the new notes to those who could not withstand the long hour on the queue,” she narrated
According to her, the lady charged N1,000 per N10,000 and N5,000 per N100,000 for the new notes.
Similarly, during visits to some PoS operators in Ogun and Lagos, some residents narrated how they bought the new notes from bankers and black market operators.
A PoS operator at Berger bus stop told The PUNCH they could not get the new notes from banks due to the scarcity.
She further alleged that some bankers and black market operators were selling the new notes at outrageous rates, making it difficult for them to maintain the previous charging rates.
She said, “We cannot continue to charge our customers the previous rate. Some bankers sell the new notes to us. At times, we get them from the black market. On every N100, 000 new notes we collect, there is a charge of N5,000. Some currency operators charge as high as N10, 000 for N80, 000.”
She warned that they might no longer engage in a transaction that is less than N5,000.
At a PoS shop at Berger, our correspondent observed the fee had increased astronomically.
Also, one Iya Ire, who operates a PoS terminal at the Egbeda area of Lagos State, said, “Here, they sell new notes; N5,000 comes with an extra charge of N500 and above, depending on how you negotiate. Then for N10, 000 new notes, it comes with an extra charge of from N1,000 and upwards”
One of the black market operators in Ikeja who does not want her name on print said, she charges as much as N500 for N5000 cash withdrawal.
She said, “I had to pay the cashier at the bank to get the new notes and that’s even because I’m a regular customer at that branch. Even at that, I still spend hours in the banking halls.
Narrating his ordeal, a PoS operator in the Magboro axis of Ogun State, Tunji Samuel, said, “Can you see how I am sweating? I had just returned from the bank. I was unable to get the new notes at the bank.
Meanwhile, around Sterling Bank in the Magboro area of Ogun State, unlicensed currency operators were spotted selling the new notes.
One of the operators charged our correspondents N500 for a N5000 cash withdrawal.
Another currency hawker, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity, said, “I am helping a staff member of the bank to sell new notes and I get a commission after sale.”
At the Computer village, in Ikeja, Lagos State, it was observed that a number of shop owners were selling new notes to customers.
One of the shop owners said, “I have been gathering the new notes for two weeks now. I was lucky to get some at a party I attended on Saturday. However, I had to pay some fees to buy additional new notes. I’m glad I am making some profit from this.”
Also, Point of Sale operators in the Ikeja area of Lagos State were charging as much as N500 for every N5000 cash withdrawn.
In Abuja, one of our correspondents paid N1,000 as fee to withdraw N10,000 new notes from a PoS agent.
However, scores of bank customers were subjected to long queues at ATM stands in Maitama, Wuse II, Garki and other locations across the Federal Capital Territory.
The same situation was witnessed at the branches of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC, Sterling Bank, First City Monument Bank and First Bank, among others in the area.
The PUNCH learnt that the long queues were worsened by the ban on over-the-counter withdrawal of new notes in banks.
It was observed that the crowds at the GTBank branch in Jabi and Zenith Bank in the Central Business District, were larger than those of last week.
However, it was observed the banks’ ATMs dispensed the new notes.
The situation was the same at the Airport and Jabi branch of Zenith Bank as our correspondents were turned back at the gate.
An official on duty simply said, “You can’t make withdrawals.”
In the Bwari Area Council, PoS agents charged as much as N500 for N5000 cash withdrawal and N1,000 for N10,000.
However, the operators in the Wuye axis demanded N1,500 for cash withdrawals of N15,000.
Defending the hike in charges, a female PoS agent stated, “We are charging that amount because it is not easy to get it (new notes). Most times, we stand from morning till evening to get it and the limit is just N20,000.
On how they get above the limit, she said, “I pay to get it; I spend at least N400 on every N10,000 transaction because I have to use other people’s ATM cards. I would transfer the amount I need to someone’s account, add the bank charges and withdraw it bit by bit. I still have to settle the people whose accounts were used to make the withdrawal.”
Chaotic implementation of new naira policy
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PoS operators in Lugbe, Abuja told The PUNCH they got the new notes from currency racketeers operating in Dei Dei, adding that they also bought from currency sellers at ATM points.
Similarly, PoS operators in Ilorin, Kwara State have been imposing high charges on their customers.
It was gathered that the operators charge a flat 10 per cent on every transaction.
An agent said, “We have to ration the few new naira notes because we cannot get enough new notes from the banks.”
But the situation in the state was made worse by the refusal of banks to allow over-the-counter withdrawals in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria directives.
At the UBA branch on Murtala Mohammed road, Ilorin, the bank workers attended only to customers depositing old naira notes while those who wanted to withdraw money were directed to the ATM stands where the withdrawal limit was pegged at N20,000.
Many Asaba residents were disappointed as they could only withdraw N50 denomination at the ATMs which had long lines of frustrated customers.
A disappointed customer stated, “I came here to withdraw money but the ATM was dispensing N50 denomination and the maximum you can withdraw is N2,000, which is too bad.
“We are not even seeing the new notes; when you go to some ATMs, only one machine will be dispensing money. That’s why you see this long queue.”
Several ATMs were not dispensing both the old and new notes in Benin City.
At the UBA branch on Akpapakva Road, the ATM machines failed to dispense cash as customers waited, hoping the bank would load the new notes in the machine.
However, an ATM at a branch of Wema Bank located on the same road dispensed cash.
However, it was besieged by customers anxious to lay their hands on the new notes.
As of the time of filing this report, the ATM stand at First Bank on Ring Road was not dispensing cash while several customers waited for succour.
But the Globus Bank also on Akpapakva Road was dispensing cash with a lot of customers in the long queue.
At the Polaris Bank on Forestry Road, customers were given tallies before they could withdraw a maximum of N5,000 from the ATMs.
There was a queue at Zenith Bank, Hawkins in Calabar on Monday morning as customers found it difficult to withdraw cash.
Residents could not access cash at Heritage Bank ATMs at Unicross, but ATM points at Access Bank, Marian Road and First Bank, Ekorinin, dispensed the new notes.
Despite the assurances by the CBN that it had made the new notes available to commercial banks, there were long queues of customers at the ATMs in Kano on Monday.
Our correspondent who went round the ancient city reports that many ATMs were not operational.
At the Kabuga branch of Jaiz bank where two ATMs were giving out cash, a long line of customers sweated under the scorching sun as they awaited their turn.
The customers expressed concern over the inability of the apex bank to make the new naira notes available to the banks, noting that the February 10 deadline for the swapping of the old notes may not be realistic if the apex bank failed to provide sufficient currencies to meet public demand.
“The commercial banks cannot perform miracles unless the CBN gives them adequate notes. So the apex bank has to do something urgently to reduce the pressure on the commercial banks,” one of the customers said.
A food vendor and a PoS agent at the Federal Low-Cost, Azare, Katagum Local Government Area of Bauchi State, Mary Adeyemi, said it has been difficult getting the new notes.
She said, ‘’Yesterday (Sunday), I sent my daughter to the bank to withdraw N100,000 from the ATM so I can use it for my PoS business, but she couldn’t get it. She went to the bank as early as 5.30am but she was number 156 on the queue.
“She stayed there for the whole day and came back home at 10pm but she still didn’t get the money. I had to go to the Azare market where I withdrew N100,000 and had to pay N5,000 as charges. And I wasn’t even paid with the new notes; all the money they gave me were old notes.”
Reacting to the situation, the National President at Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Victor Olojo, urged the CBN to do more in circulating the new currencies to address the racketeering.
He stated, “When there is scarcity, racketeering is inevitable as it births a hike in prices. CBN needs to do more in circulating the new notes, it is something that is scarce that people would try to racketeer, however, if it is available for everybody to get, there will be no issue for this racketeering.
‘’The reality of the matter is that it is not easy getting the new notes, and to get it, it must have incurred some costs. Some of these PoS operators have traveled miles away; some have also gone through a lot to make the funds available.”
He denied that mobile money agents were conniving with bank staff.
He added, “Accredited PoS agents ought to get access to funds. If an agent walks into the bank and there is a queue, the agent should be attended to. This is the way agency banking works.
‘’Generally, it is easy to assume that mobile money agents are involved in racketeering; however, it is not true because they ought to automatically have access to funds.”
Olojo further stated that any agent who gets more than the N500, 000 stipulated by the CBN would need to answer questions, except such agents have a corporate registered business, which entitled them to about N3m.
“As long as an agent has not gone beyond the stipulated limit, such an agent cannot be found culpable. Also, the agents are just supposed to stay within the ambit as stipulated by CBN, which I do not think any agent has done. The issue we have is just scarcity which makes it look like people are racketeering.”
On the hike in charges by the PoS operators, Olojo blamed the limit imposed by the apex bank, adding that operators have to go out of their way to get cash.
He said, “People are going through a lot to get these monies out, there are no monies in the banks or ATMs. They spend a lot on transport to get them and Nigerians can see that the new notes are not available.
“There are pictures and videos of Nigerians struggling in queues and this is just a clear indication of a faulty system.
“We understand the CBN means well for Nigeria but if the objective is to fight inflation and curb corruption, why should it affect the common man? It is unbearable.”
Meanwhile, the Department of State Services has said its operatives have arrested an undisclosed number of persons involved in the sale of the new naira notes.
The service in a statement on Monday by its spokesman, Peter Afunanya, accused unnamed commercial bank officials of aiding the crime.
The statement, titled, ‘DSS intercepted syndicates selling new currency notes, bank official implicated,’ read in part, “The Department of State Services hereby informs the public that it has intercepted some members of organised syndicates involved in the sale of the new redesigned naira notes.
‘’In the course of its operations, in this regard in parts of the country, it was also established that some commercial bank officials are aiding the economic malfeasance.
‘’Consequently, the Service warns the currency racketeers to desist from this ignoble act. Appropriate regulatory authorities are, in this same vein, urged to step up monitoring and supervisory activities to expeditiously address emerging trends.
‘’It should be noted that the Service has ordered its commands and formations to further ensure that all persons and groups engaged in the illegal sale of the notes are identified. Therefore, anyone with useful information relating to this is encouraged to pass the same to the relevant authorities.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the attack on President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Kano State by miscreants allegedly sponsored by the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, in a statement said the organised attack on the person of the President was outrightly treasonable and a sacrilegious assault on the country’s sovereignty which must be condemned by all.
“Our Party is alarmed that this attack is part of APC Presidential Candidate’s alleged plot to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections and derail our democracy; having realized that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State.
“More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari, while performing his official duties in Kano.
“It should be noted that the APC Presidential Candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr. President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world, that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and Party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.
“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.
“Nigerians are reminded about Asiwaju Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte. It is what we are doing; It is being determined; you do it at all cost; fight for it, grab it, snatch it and run with it.
“Only recently, Asiwaju Tinubu further incited his followers against President Buhari at APC’s Presidential Rally in Abeokuta, Ogun State, where he accused Mr. President of attempting to subvert the electoral process,” he stated.
PDP said it is now clearer why the APC presidential candidate brazenly established a militia code-named “the Jagaban Army” which is designed allegedly to undermine national security, unleash violence on institutions of democracy and disrupt the electoral process.
The PDP counseled the APC presidential candidate to come to terms with the fact that Nigerians were determined to have free, fair and credible elections and that they were unwavering in their choice of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as the next President of the country.
It added that Tinubu should note that no threat by any means can divert Nigerians from the path to rescue and rebuild the nation, which aspiration is embodied in Atiku.
The spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation (PCO), Senator Dino Melaye, has reacted to the allege attack on President Muhammadu Buhari in Kano State.
Naija News reported that some angry youths in Kano State, on Monday, hauled stones at the advance convoy of President Buhari and helicopter during an official visit to the state.
However, in spite of the heavy security presence mounted on the routes leading to Ahmadu Bello way where the President was to launch one of the projects, the protesting youths had time to embarrass the President.
Reacting to the development in a tweet via his Twitter handle on Monday, Melaye claimed that the alleged fight between the President and the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was the reason for the incident.
The former lawmaker said the attack was allegedly sponsored by Tinubu to embarrass President Buhari, adding that the plot to attack Buhari was orchestrated in Burdillon, home of the APC flag bearer.
He wrote, “The fight between Tinubu and Buhari is entering a new dimension. The attack in Kano was properly coordinated and funded allegedly by Asiwaju.
“The meeting to push Buhari to submission or face sponsored attack in the north was said to be hatched in Burdillon. Me, I am busy with Atiku.”
The presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said he “rescued” his counterpart at Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, wanted to roast him.
Tinubu stated this while speaking at APC presidential rally held at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
He said Atiku and his party were just about “stomach infrastructure. They don’t have a mandate, what they have is ice cream. It has melted. I am the one that rescued him from Obasanjo, who wanted to roast him like goat meat.
The former Lagos State governor said, “He ran away to Dubai and when the election came again, he came for stomach infrastructure. He came to Lagos. We rehabilitated him and gave him a ticket but he wasted it and used it to collect money.
“He faced Obasanjo, faced Buhari and failed. He failed with Jonathan. He failed in all his subjects.
“You better watch him before he starts selling the little palm trees that you have left. What we need to do is to develop our country. We have enough gas reservoirs in our land.
“Akwa Ibom, you will not suffer again. That boy (Governor Emmanuel Udom) that brought Atiku here, that calls himself governor, tell him enough is enough. He lived in my backyard in Lagos. If not that we are one, I’d have driven him home.”
Earlier, addressing a crowd of supporters, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and candidate of the APC for Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) senatorial district, Senator Godswill Akpabio appealed to the party members and supporters to ensure they get their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in order to return the party to power through Tinubu.
Meanwhile, the PDP Presidential Campaign, in a statement by Special Assistant on Public Communications to Atiku, Phrank Shaibu, while reacting to Tinubu’s comment, said: “The constant gaffes of Tinubu, which started as a comic relief is slowly becoming a tragedy, an embarrassment to Nigeria, Africa’s largest nation.
“Since Tinubu declared his intention to contest, he has made over 20 gaffes publicly.
“These gaffes, which have provided online skit makers with comic content, are no longer a laughing matter but a tragic embarrassment to a nation in dire need of salvation.
“In his latest rally in Akwa Ibom State, Tinubu said he made Atiku Abubakar the Senate President when it is on record that Atiku has never contested any legislative election before.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has in separate operations in Zone 4 and Dei Dei areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, arrested members of a syndicate of currency racketeers hoarding and trading the redesigned Naira notes.
The EFCC operations happened on Saturday, January 28 and Monday, January 30, 2023.
EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said the operations followed intelligence on activities of unscrupulous currency speculators, who were exploiting desperate citizens by offering them the new Naira notes for foreign currencies at below the going rate.
He said the suspects have made useful statements, including disclosure that they were acting in cohort with some unscrupulous officials of money deposit banks.
Uwujaren added that the EFCC will extend the operation to all the major commercial centres of the country until all the syndicates involved in the illegal trade were demobilised.
The EFCC also warned financial system operators to desist from the sharp practices or risk arrest and prosecution.
Uwujaren also said zonal commanders of the EFCC also met with officials of various banks in their commands in an effort to ascertain the volume of the new notes issued to the commercial banks and how the banks were dispensing the monies to their customers.
The commanders urged the financial market operators to ensure compliance with the guidelines set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while disclosing that they have dispatched operatives across their commands to monitor the level of compliance by banks and other operators in the financial market.
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa says it’s possible that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele “misled” President Muhammadu Buhari on the redesign of the N200, N500, N1,000 bank notes.
Doguwa, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and also the Chairman of the House Adhoc Committee on the redesign of three naira notes, said he believes the President will do what’s right to address his action.
The lawmaker made this known when he featured on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday.
He said the naira swap will frustrate the 2023 general elections and doubted the sincerity of the CBN chief who was once a presidential aspirant in the APC.
Explaining why he thinks the President was misled to approve the redesign of the three bank notes, the lawmaker said, “The President as chief executive of government or the President as C-in-C (Commander-in-Chief), who of course is the leader of the party on one hand. I want to also look at the central bank and Emefiele as governor of the bank on another hand.
“Perhaps when the President is presented with misleading briefing that is not quite express to even understand the implications therein, then, definitely, the President is bound to act in wrong direction. That is my suspicion and that is my own understanding”
The APC stalwart said he met with the President on Sunday and he expressed his dissatisfaction, insisting that the CBN governor’s inability to honour the invitation by the green chamber is an insult to the CBN Act and the legislative arm of government.
Doguwa said the deadline extension by the President goes to confirm that he wasn’t fully briefed on the implications of the naira redesign before the implementation of the policy.
“It (the extension) goes to confirm to you that if the President was actually briefed ab initio of the implications and the outcome of the naira redesign, then definitely he won’t have come now to say let’s extend it by 10 days, which means there is an issue.
“So, I am sure Mr President will be one humble leader to understand when he is misled and he should be able to now come look at the right thing and take the right decision like he is doing now,” Doguwa stated, adding that the House will go ahead to issue an arrest warrant on the apex bank chief should he further fail to honour an invite by the lower chamber”
President Muhammadu Buhari has compared the situation in Nigeria with that of other countries and concluded that the country’s condition is not as bad as being portrayed by some people.
Speaking Monday at a State Banquet in Kano to conclude his one-day official visit to the State after inaugurating several projects executed by the Federal and State governments and the private sector, the President, according to a release issued by his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, stressed that “we have a great country but we do not appreciate it until we visit our neighbors and other countries where the preoccupation is for people to have one good meal a day.
‘‘When I fly by helicopter, the number of high-rise buildings I see and the amount of development on the ground are fantastic. We thank God. We thank God. We thank God,’’ he said.
President Buhari described ongoing infrastructure development across the country as ‘fantastic’, urging citizens to appreciate what they have as the situation in the country is not dire when compared with other countries.
He urged the elites to encourage and inspire young people to embrace education, saying “whether we like it or not we are going to leave the country for them.
‘‘They must embrace education for education’s sake. Technology has made it possible for short cuts but nothing can replace real learning. Please encourage the children to learn.”
He congratulated Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State for doing very well on infrastructure, adding that his recent State visits to Kogi, Yobe, Lagos and Katsina have shown that the respective governors have done very well, within the confines of funds available to them.
On security, the President, who described Boko Haram as a fraudulent organization with links to international groups bent on destroying Nigeria, said his administration had succeeded in decimating the terror group, limiting their capacity to inflict harm.
Earlier, while paying homage to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, President Buhari urged Nigerians to respect traditional institutions and accord them the honour they deserve.
The President, who also inaugurated the Emir’s Council Chambers at the Palace, said of the traditional institution: ‘‘This system is good. It is good in the sense that our traditional institutions are respected and honoured.
‘‘It is very important that we have understood the politics and we are respecting people from the bottom to upwards and this is common sense because people matter.
‘‘What the children see now is what they will hope to be in the future and the older ones hope that they can make their influence felt and improve the governance in the country from bottom upwards.’’
He thanked the Emir of Kano for associating him with the success of the traditional institution, lauding him for the vast improvement in the lot of his people, since he ascended the throne three years ago.
The Emir of Kano, who underscored the importance of the visit, thanked President Buhari for granting approval to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for the phasing out of old currency notes, and by implication the implementation of the cashless policy.
‘‘This is an indication that the President is focused on alleviating the plight of the citizenry and indeed a listening leader,’’ he said.
The Royal Father added that the ongoing electioneering campaigns should serve as an opportunity for politicians to understand the challenges facing the people and devise a means to solving them.
He prayed for peaceful elections, as well as peace and prosperity of the country.
The President had commenced his visit to the State with the inauguration of Dala Inland Dry Port hosted by Kano State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government.
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The Inland Dry Port Project was conceived as part of the Federal Government’s Ports Reform Programme designed to decongest the seaports, while also taking shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterland.
President Buhari also inaugurated the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)-funded 10MW Haske Solar Plant in a 24-hectare land in Kumbotso Local Government of Kano State.
The plant, which links industrial customers to an additional power supply, represents a significant step towards efforts to provide clean, reliable, and sustainable energy for all Nigerians.
The 10MW plant is the largest completed solar plant in Nigeria and the first under the NSIA renewable energy platform.
The President also inaugurated the Family Homes Funds Estate, Darmanawa, Kano, which consists of 469 affordable housing units with ancillary infrastructure.
The inauguration is coming on the heels of the inauguration of the 2,600 Housing Estate on Potiskum road, Damaturu, Yobe State, a project executed by Family Homes in partnership with Yobe State Government.
On the Dala Inland Dry Port, the Minister of Transport, Mu’azu Sambo, recalled that in March, 2006 the Federal Executive Council had granted approval for the establishment of this critical transport infrastructure at chosen locations across the country.
He said the infrastructure would undergo a concession to private sector operators on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with a strategic framework to Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model.
‘‘Dala Inland Dry Port at Zawachiki in Kano State was among the six Inland Dry Ports approved and the concessioned went to Messrs Dala Inland Dry Port Nigeria Limited,’’ he said.
According to him, the dry port has been designated a Customs port with all the prerequisites of an international port including Customs, Immigration, Port Health Officials and Government security agencies.
He thanked Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State for his investments on infrastructural development particularly, road networks amongst others which has made the Dala Inland Dry Port a reality.
Reiterating that the Dala Inland Dry Port (DIDP) is a Port of Origin and Final Destination, the Minister called on national and international maritime practitioners, shippers, shipping companies, landlocked countries and port users to take full advantage of this facility for import and export of their cargoes.
On the 10MW Haske Solar Plant, the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, described the solar plant as a significant achievement in Nigeria’s power generation, achieving the energy transition goal as well as increasing the share of renewable energy in the power mix.
The Minister revealed that the construction of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant project is almost completed, while other power plants projects are at various stages of completion.
Also speaking, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed that over 16,000 houses have been successfully built in the past 4 years by Family Homes Funds Limited, under the guidance of the Ministry.
She recalled that the Ministry together with the NSIA established Family Homes Funds Limited with a structured approach to address the housing deficiency issue in the country.
Her words: ‘‘We had a vision to support your government’s housing agenda by ensuring we cater for the low-income earners of Nigeria by providing quality houses that are affordably priced”.
According to the Minister, the agency now has a strong presence in all the six geopolitical zones and through its projects, created over 75,000 direct and indirect jobs.
‘‘There are completed and ongoing housing projects funded by Family Homes Funds in 12 states of the Federation and in the next two years, we intend to build additional affordable houses in all 36 states including the FCT,’’ she said.
While in Kano, the President also inaugurated the National Tier IV Data Centre under the supervision of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and office complex of Galaxy Backbone Limited.
‘‘The Tier IV Data Centre is the highest anywhere in the world and this is the best Centre in the country and the first in Northern Nigeria’’ Dr Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, told the President at the unveiling of the plaque to commemorate the formal inauguration.
Pantami added that the Datacentre, in the first stage, has a provision for storage of 2.2 petabytes and a possibility for expansion.
The President also inaugurated the Cancer Treatment Centre at Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital, Giginyum Muhammadu Buhari Road Interchange at NNPC Mega Station Hotoro and Aliko Dangote Ultra-Modern Skill Acquisition Centre, Zaria Road.
The Central Bank Of Nigeria, (CBN) has directed all commercial banks to pay customers over the counter in N100, N50, N20, N10, and N5 notes, regardless of the amount withdrawn.
Naija News reports that Bankers Committee issued the directives to all commercial banks in the country on Monday, and also announced the discontinuation of old notes payment of N1000, N500 and N200 across the counters
The committee noted that bank customers are encouraged to use their alternative channels for transactions, while those who insist on new Naira notes are advised to use Automated Teller Machine (ATMs).
The directives were issued on Monday, following a meeting of the bankers committee in Lagos State.
Old Notes Deadline Extended
Meanwhile, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in a statement on Sunday extended the deadline for old Naira notes.
Emefiele also noted that he obtained permission from President Muhmammadu Buhari to effect the extension.
Emefiele stated that, so far CBN has collected 1.9 trillion and left with 900 billion to achieve effective implementation of policy.
According to the apex bank chief, the extension, ‘a 7-day grace period’ was as a result of measures put in place to ease the scarcity.
The decision is coming after CBN had previously insisted that it would not extend the deadline.