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Nigeria Freezes Accounts Of Sacked Bank Chiefs As Depositors Make Panic Withdrawals

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The Nigerian anti-graft agency said Saturday it had frozen the accounts of the sacked directors of five ailing banks for running the institutions into insolvency.

“We have frozen the accounts of the former managing directors and executive directors of the five banks,” Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesman Femi Babafemi told our correspondent

He said the agency had also invited the auditors of the affected banks for questioning.

“The auditors have to tell us what they know about the financials of the banks. How they came about huge debts and non-performing loans without the auditors raising the alarm,” he said.

The heads of Afribank plc, Intercontinental Bank plc, Union Bank plc, Oceanic Bank plc and Finbank plc were removed on August 14 by the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for piling up billions of dollars in bad debts and inefficiency.

The CBN accused the banks’ management of granting loans to prominent Nigerian businessmen and companies without following best practice.

The total loan portfolio of these five banks came to N2,801.92 billion, according to CBN.

Margin loans amounted to N456.28 billion and exposure to oil and gas loans amounted to N487.02 billion while aggregate non-performing loans stood at N1,143 billion, it said.

The EFCC has given the debtors one week to pay up or face arrest and prosecution.

Meanwhile, panic withdrawals by depositors and a thick cloud of uncertainty are shaking Nigeria’s financial sector after the sacking of the directors of five key ailing banks, operators and analysts said.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi earlier this month removed the heads of Afribank, Intercontinental Bank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank for piling up billions of dollars in bad debts.

The books of about a dozen other banks are also currently under CBN scrutiny to determine their viability, debts and liquidity status.

“There are apprehensions in the industry on what will be the fate of the remaining banks because of CBN’s action,” a treasury manager in one of the nation’s banks, Sunday Adeola, told our correspondent.

The dismissals of the bank chiefs and the anti-graft agency’s threat to arrest, prosecute or seize property of the debtors of the banks if they failed to pay in a week has put the heat on the sector, analysts said.

“The… system has witnessed massive cash outflows in recent days. Depositors are jittery and they are withdrawing their money,” said analyst Joel Allison.

“Bank vaults are becoming empty and if the trend continues we may have another bank failure on our hands,” he said, recalling the liquidation of dozens of distressed banks in the 1990s after bad management and fraud.

Dozens of the owners and managers of those failed banks were prosecuted or jailed while others fled the country to evade arrest.

The CBN chief earlier this month accused the management of the five ailing banks of giving loans to prominent Nigerian businessmen and companies without adhering to good corporate governance and risk management practices.

He put the total loan portfolio of the ailing banks at N2.8 trillion.

The CBN has also published a list of dozens of prominent Nigerians businessmen as debtors to these banks.

The list includes tycoon Aliko Dangote, rated by US Forbes magazine as one of the world’s richest Africans with a net worth of around $3.3 billion.

Dangote, 52, who is also the new president of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) has denied managing the oil and gas company listed as owing Intercontinental Bank more than eight billion naira.

The Nigerian government has in the past days tried to calm the nerves of agitated bank depositors by assuring them that their money is safe and that it will not allow the debt-ridden banks to sink.

The government has already announced a N400 billion naira  bailout for the affected banks.

Nigeria’s central labour movement NLC lauded Sanusi’s action, and urged the CBN to restore public confidence in the industry.

Rasheed Yusuf of the Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria also called for proper management of the situation “in a way that the market will not be jeopardised.”

The confusion in this important sector of the Nigerian economy is further exacerbated by the fact that three key players — Dangote, NSE director general, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke and International Bank’s ex-boss, Erastus Akingbola  were listed by the CBN as bank debtors.

Okereke-Onyiuke is also a director in Transnational Corp, a failing conglomerate, which the CBN says owes Union Bank about N31 billion.

Five years ago, in a bid to shore up the capital base of these financial institutions, the number of banks was cut from more than 90 to 25 solid ones.

The figure later dropped to 24 when two of the banks merged.

But that early caution appears to have dissolved in more recent times and the global economic crisis has made the credit crunch that much tougher.

Mindful of the 1990s banking crisis, weary Nigerians are being cautious.

“Yesterday I took all my money from my bank to avoid possible unpleasant consequences,” said Femi Afolabi, a Lagos hotelier, who lost almost three million naira in 1995 when his bank failed.

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IPPIS: FG, ASUU Meet, Today, As Fresh Strike Looms

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Delegations from the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are expected to meet, today, in a bid to avert a fresh strike.
The chairmen of ASUU branches had expressed readiness to commence a fresh strike over the non-implementation of their agreement with FG on IPPIS.
One of them, Chairman, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr Ibrahim Inuwa, said the protracted strike, which was to press home the union members’ demands for the continued survival of the public university system in Nigeria, was suspended in December after the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the various issues and providing timelines for the implementation of each of the eight items in the agreement.
Inuwa said over seven months after the MoU was signed only two out of the eight issues had been addressed.
He listed some of the outstanding issues to include payment of the earned academic allowance, funding for revitalisation of public universities, salary shortfall, proliferation of state universities and setting up of visitation panels.
Others are renegotiation, replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, said the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, will be hosting the leadership of the ASUU to a meeting at the ministry’s Conference Room, Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
“The Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, will be hosting a meeting with ASUU. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2, 2021 at Minister’s Conference Room,” the letter read.
The National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had said that the union was invited by the Ministry of Labour to discuss issues surrounding the Memorandum of Action, which was signed with the Federal Government in December, 2020.
However, Osodeke, explained the last time the union met with the government was around March/April.
He said, “The Ministry of Education, which is our ministry, has not called us to any meeting since we signed the Memorandum of Action. But the Ministry of Labour, which is just an intervention ministry, around March/April called us to a meeting in which we discussed and they promised to implement all those things.”

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30 Of 65 Private Jets In Nigeria Owe Duties, Customs Insists

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says 30 out of 65 private airplanes verified owe duties to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, made the disclosure to newsmen, yesterday.
He said some of the airplanes came into the country by Temporary Importation Agreement which allows them in without payment because it was secured by bond.
The spokesman noted that many later fail to turn up to pay on the expiration of the agreement.
The customs explained that the verification was not meant to embarrass anyone but to collect payments due to the government.
The service has given another two-week extension which commenced from Monday, July 26, to Friday, August 6.
Attah said with the increasing economic challenge, every revenue is important.
“With this, you can now tie proper ownership to every aircraft or private jet that flies in and out of the country.
“The owners of private jets are highly placed Nigerians who should be respected and approached in a manner that provides convenience. That is what these extensions stand for,” he added.

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FBI Indictment: PSC, IGP Suspend Kyari, Name Inquiry Panel

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The Police Service Commission (PSC) has suspended embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force, Abba Kyari, from the exercise of the powers and functions of his office.
Kyari’s suspension was contained in a press statement by the commission’s Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The commission said Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31, 2021, and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
The commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action.
The commission’s decision which was conveyed in a letter with reference, PSC/POL/D/153/vol/V/138 to the Inspector General of Police today, Sunday, August 1st, 2021, was signed by Hon. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Honourable Commissioner 1 in the commission for the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police who is currently on leave.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had recommended the immediate suspension of DCP Abba Kyari from the service of the Nigeria Police Force, pending the report of the four-man investigative panel constituted to probe him.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Force, CP Frank MBA, last Saturday, the IGP, in his letter to the Police Service Commission (PSC), dated July 31, 2021, noted that the recommendation is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the force.
According to the IGP, the suspension would also create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel, to carry out its investigations into the allegations against Kyari without interference.
He explained that the suspension is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer, the statement said.
The four-man Special Investigation Panel (SIP), is headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), DIG Joseph Egbunike.
“The SIP is to undertake a detailed review of all the allegations against DCP Abba Kyari by the US Government as contained in relevant documents that have been availed the NPF by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The SIP is also to obtain detailed representation of DCP Abba Kyari to all the allegations levelled against him, conduct further investigations as it deems fit, and submit recommendations to guide further actions by the Force leadership on the matter,” Mba said.
Meanwhile, the IGP has reaffirmed the commitment of the force to the rule of law, and assured the public of the sanctity of the probe as well as the absolute respect for the rights and privileges of the officer throughout the period of the investigations.

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