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Court Adjourns Alleged Theft Case Against Ex-Bank Chairman

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A Federal High Court sitting in Ikeja last Thursday fixed April 17 for hearing of all pending applications in the trial of a former Chairman of Wema Bank Plc, Olapade Mohammed.

Mohammed is standing trial alongside Sanni Mohamed, a Director of AKS Steel Nigeria Ltd. for allegedly stealing N1.2 billion belonging to the company, where he was also chairman.

Reports said that the two accused persons were dragged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the court, presided over by Justice Steven Adah.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, their lawyer, Mr Olabode Olanipekun, told the court that they have filed an application for a stay of proceedings.

Olanipekun said the application was served on the EFCC on March 1, adding that the defence had also filed an objection to the prosecution’s written address.

Responding, the EFCC lawyer, Mr Steve Odiase, noted that the accused persons have failed to appear before the court to answer the charges preferred against them.

Odiase, in an oral application, asked the court for an extension of time to enable the prosecution regularise its processes and file their written address properly.

Adah, therefore, adjourned the matter to April 17, but ordered the parties to ensure that all processes were duly filed and served before the next adjournment date.

The accused persons in the application filed on March 1 by Olanipekun, had urged the court to stay further proceedings of the charge preferred against them.

This is pending the hearing and determination of their appeal against the charge, filed before the Court of Appeal in Lagos.

The anti-graft agency had in the charge alleged that the duo stole N1.2 billion, whilst Muhammed was the company’s chairman.

It said the alleged offences were committed between January 1, 2006 and March 23, 2009 in Lagos.

The EFCC claimed that they also laundered various sums amounting to N297. 7 million belonging to the company by transferring it to Dubai and subsequently, India.

The charge said they did so “without a board resolution authorising the removal of the funds.”

The agency alleged that they “knew” the sums “represented the proceeds of crime, with the aim of concealing the illicit origin of the said money”.

The alleged stealing and conversion contravene Sections 390, 421, 422 and 516 of the Criminal Code, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The laundering charges are contrary to Section 14 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2004 and punishable under Section 14 and 17 of the Act.

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FG To Eradicate Multiple Taxation In Mining Sector – Adegbite

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The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, says the Federal Government is setting in place various measures to eradicate multiple taxation for miners.
At the flagship Forum last Tuesday in Abuja, Adegbite said the ministry was engaging with the three tiers of government to resolve this issue.
He said that this informed the recent webinars and advocacy engagements by the ministry with all stakeholders in the country involved in the mining industry.
He said that though the constitution vested control of mineral resources in Nigeria in the Federal Government, the fund goes into the Federation Account, of which everybody participates.
He added that all the 774 local governments got money from that account but if they cut corners by disturbing the miners with unnecessary local taxes they get discouraged.
“So, it is double jeopardy when you go and do all these illegal taxes, or you go and disturb the miners, when you will benefit from what is derived in your place, you get a 13 per cent derivation.
“You also get your share of the federal accounts as of course laid down statutorily. So, it is a continuous process, we educate everybody and I think we are getting good results.”
The minister said there was a Mineral Resource Committee (MIRENCO) in every state and the chairman was nominated by the governor of that state, so that he would be in the know about everything going on about mining in that state.
He said that the chairman of that committee was to oversee all the activities between the miners, the community, the state government and the Federal Government.
“So, on that committee, the Federal Government has representatives, the local government has representatives, the governor chooses the chairman and then Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders bring in representatives as well.
“So, through this committee, everybody can participate, and make sure that we work in harmony, bake a bigger pie so everybody can share.
“So, it is continuous advocacy, we let them know what we are doing and of course they can also participate, where they do not understand or where the governor has any problem he can always ask the chairman.”
On the issue of rock blasting, he said cities had expanded to meet quarries.
According to him, quarrying is a necessity, because stones are needed to make concrete when building roads and houses.

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Nigeria Lost N53.26bn To Gas Flaring In Two Months – NNPC

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Nigeria lost an estimated N53.26billion in the first two months of this year as international oil companies and local players flared a total of 33.04 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas.
The oil companies wasted 17.53 billion scf of gas in February, compared to 15.51 billion scf in January, according to data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
With the price of natural gas put at $3.93 per 1,000scf as of Wednesday, the 33.04 billion scf flared translates to an estimated loss of $129.85million or N53.26billion (using the official exchange rate of N410.13/dollar).
The NNPC, in its latest monthly report, said out of the 206.05 billion scf produced in February, a total of 133.06 billion scf was commercialised, consisting of 40.15 billion scf and 92.91 billion scf for the domestic and export market respectively.
It said this implied that 64.48 per cent of the average daily gas produced was commercialised while the balance of 35.52 per cent was re-injected, used as upstream fuel gas or flared.
Gas flare rate was 7.67 per cent in February (i.e. 565.52 million standard cubic feet per day), compared to 7.73 per cent in January (i.e. 554.01 million scfd).
In January, a total of 223.55 billion scf of natural gas was produced, translating to an average daily production of 7,220.22 million scfd.
Out of the total gas output in January, a total of 149.24 billion scf was commercialised, consisting of 44.29 billion scf and 104.95 billion scf for the domestic and export markets respectively.
Firms producing less than 10,000 barrels of oil per day will pay a gas flare penalty of $0.5 per 1,000 scf.
The penalties paid by oil and gas companies for flaring gas in the country will be invested to build midstream gas infrastructure in host communities, according to a new provision introduced into the Petroleum Industry Bill by the National Assembly.
“Moneys received from gas flaring penalties by the commission (Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission) pursuant to this subsection, shall be transferred to the Midstream Gas Infrastructure Fund for investment in midstream gas infrastructure within the host communities of the settlor on which the penalties are levied,” the Senate and House of Representatives said in subsection (4) of section 104 of the bill.

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Nigeria To Boost Trade Volume Through ECOWAS TPOs

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Nigeria is poised to boost its non-oil exports following the official launch of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Trade Promotion Organisations (PTOs).
With Executive Director /CEO of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Segun Awolowo, as the inaugural president of the ECOWAS TPOs, the NEPC is repositioning the nation’s export through the implementation of its N50 billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP), a part of the Economic Sustainability Plan whose development and implementation is being led by the Vice President.
EEFP is expected to significantly raise the volume of non-oil exports in Nigeria, and it’s a spin-off of the Zero Oil Plan developed by Awolowo and approved by the President.
Besides providing financial support for the average Nigerian exporter, EEFP is also going to see the establishment of top-notch warehouses close to airports where Nigerian goods meant for export would be packaged to globally competitive standards ahead of their exportation.
The EEFP, in line with the FG’sEconomic Sustainability Plan (ESP), is focused on cushioning the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on non-oil export businesses,thereby safeguarding jobs and creating new ones.
In March, Minister of Industry,Tradeand Investment (MITI), Niyi Adebayo, officially flagged off the EEFP and launched the first online Grant Management Portal (GMP) for non-oil exports.
While the EEFP is being implemented by the NEPC, the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is the supervisory body over the agency and its operations.
It was learnt although the programme anticipated 500 beneficiaries, since the launch, it has received over 3,500 applications for the grant, out of which over 2,000 were verified after meeting the eligibility criteria.
Federal Government officials said further details and plans on disbursement to final successful beneficiaries are being awaited.

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