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Customs Intercepts N356.2m Contraband

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The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted contraband with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N356.2 million.
The Tide source reports that items included used clothes, Indian Hemp, used vehicles, rice, second hand clothes, substandard cables, frozen poultry products and others.
The Customs Area Controller in charge of FOU Zone ‘A’, Comptroller Garba Mohammed, disclosed this in Lagos.
Mohammed handed over the intercepted items to officials of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON). the National Agency for Foods Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Lagos.
According to him, the 128 seizures were made between August 29 and October 3 after intensified unit’s operational modalities to meet up with the current smuggling tactics.
“We have intercepted various contraband with DPV of N356,205,050.78, while the seized items include 11 used vehicles, 4,227 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice, 84 parcels of India Hemp, 249 bales of second hand clothes and 980 cartons of frozen poultry products.
“We also intercepted 907 pieces of used tyres, 268 pairs of used shoes, 198 Jerry cans of vegetable oil, two containers of substandard electric cables, one container each of scraps and wet blue leather, seven containers of wood and three containers of medicament.
“In September  29, based on information, we trailed and evacuated 3,000 bags of smuggled parboiled rice from 10 houses along Waterside in Ere Village, Ado-Odo Local Government of Ogun State.
“Each of these houses had three exit doors for their nefarious activities and as we were evacuating the rice from one house to the other, the villagers were busy packing the rice into the bush through other exit doors.
“Apart from 11 vehicles, which two of them are Lexus Jeep GX460 and RX330, we also have another 17 assorted vehicles of various models in detention.
“The vehicles were evacuated from car marts due to infractions noticed in their documents and as I speak with you, the owners have not been able to provide Customs papers, which we have given them enough room to provide,” Mohammed said.
He said that eight suspects had been arrested in connection with the seizures.
Mohammed said that currently the Unit had 12 suspects being prosecuted at the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Courts.
The controller said that of the criminal cases, one person had been convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
He commended the Comptroller-General of Customs, Retired Col. Hameed Ali, and the entire management for providing the necessary assistance and logistics that brought about the feats.
Mohammed also commended the media as well as other sister agencies, adding that sensitising and educating the public would stop smuggling to the barest  minimum.
An Assistant Director in the Lagos Office of NDLEA, Mr Abdul-Azeez Uthman, commended the efforts of the NCS.
Uthman assured the Customs of continuous collaboration until the perpetrators stopped the criminal acts.
Also speaking, an Assistant Director, Compliance Directorate, SON, Mr Chike Makwe, described Mohammed as “Mr Standard”for intercepting the two containers of substandard cables from China after the containers escaped from Apapa Port.
“This is one of the nefarious acts perpetrated by some importers either as a result of false declaration or they did not get clearance from SON in terms of SONCAP and so on,” he said.
Markwe said that usage of substandard cables were hazardous and they could burn buildings.
Mr Declan Ugwu, an Assistant  Director, (Investigation and Enforcement) in NAFDAC, said that the seized products did not pass through due processes before coming into the country.
“Customs told us it had NAFDAC registration number, but our worry is the way the consignments came into the country through false declaration.
“When products are coming into the country, they should pass the GCS text in India or CRIA text in China before coming into the country.
“As they come into the country, the drugs should go through stamping, but I understand that these two containers of Lemdafil 100mg, Acipep Antacids and Ciprogyl injection 200mg, did not do so.
“We suspect that the importer did not do proper registration and we are also going to verify the NAFDAC registration number that came with those products.
“We find out these days that the way the criminals are bringing in fake products is that they will copy a NAFDAC registration number of another registered products and affixed it on the products they are bringing into the country,” Ugwu said.
He urged importers to always follow due process in bringing pharmaceutical products into the country to save the lives of Nigerians.
Ugwu said that NAFDAC would carry out thorough investigation on the products and inform the public immediately. (NAN)

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Lawmakers Want CBN To Halt Naira Devaluation

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The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to urgently put in place a policy to check further devaluation of the naira to the United States dollar and other international legal tenders.
The House decried that while the Nigerian currency was losing value, others in Africa were appreciating.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the House unanimously adopted a motion moved by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Pensions, Mr Bamidele Salam, which warned the CBN of the implications of further devaluing the naira.
The motion was titled, ‘Matter of urgent public importance on the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently put in place monetary policies to stop the free fall of the naira against the dollar and other international legal tenders’.
Salam recalled that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, while addressing the Bankers’ Committee at a summit on the economy in Lagos earlier in February, informed the committee about the naira devaluation against the dollar.
The lawmaker also quoted Emefiele as saying at the summit that the official exchange rate stood at N410 to the dollar.
“That is 7.6 per cent weaker than the rate of N379 published on the central bank’s website,” Salam noted.
According to the lawmaker, while the value of the naira relative to the dollar had declined by nine per cent in the last six months, the South African rand and Ghanaian cedi had appreciated by 11.4 per cent and one per cent, respectively.
Salam also recalled that the CBN adopted multiple exchange rates in 2020, in a bid to avoid an outright devaluation. 
He noted that the official rate used as a basis for budget preparation and other official transactions differed from a closely controlled exchange rate for investors and exporters known as the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology.
He stressed that the naira had traded in a tight range between N400 and N410, while the NAFEX rate was different from the parallel market, considered illegal by the CBN, where the naira closed at 502.
Salam said, “The House is concerned that devaluation is likely to cause inflation because imports will be more expensive any imported goods or raw material will increase in price; aggregate demand increases, causing demand-pull inflation. Firms/exporters have less incentive to cut costs because they can rely on the devaluation to improve competitiveness.
 ”The concern is that the long-term devaluation may lead to lower productivity because of the decline in incentives.
 ”The House is further concerned that devaluation of the naira makes it more difficult for Nigerian youths especially in the IT sector, whose businesses are online and must necessarily transact businesses in the US dollars. 
“It also reduces real wages. In a period of low wage growth, a devaluation that causes rising import prices will make consumers feel worse off “.

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Four West African Countries To Buy Nigeria’s Unutilised Electricity

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Four West African countries, Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, are collaborating to buy the unutilised power produced in Nigeria. 
The Chairman of the Executive Board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), Sule Abdulaziz, disclosed this at the WAPP meeting on the North core project in Abuja, on Wednesday. 
Abdulaziz, who is also the acting Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), said the four countries were collaborating to make the power purchase from Nigeria through the North core Power Transmission Line currently being built.
He explained, “The power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria.
“The electricity generators that are going to supply power to this transmission line are going to generate that power specifically for this project. So, it is unutilised power”.
He said Nigeria was expecting new generators to participate in the energy export for the 875km 330KV Northcore transmission line from Nigeria through Niger, Togo, Benin to Burkina Faso.
Abdulaziz said, “In addition, there are some communities that are under the line route, about 611 of them, which will be getting power so that there won’t be just a transmission line passing without impact”.
The WAPP chairman noted that the project, funded by World Bank, French Development Council and the African Development Bank, had recorded progress, adding that the energy ministers would be addressing security issues for the project at another meeting in Abuja.
He said, “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from Nigerian Gencos (generation companies). 
“So, from that, the revenue is going to be enhanced and a lot of people will be employed in Nigeria”.
The Secretary-General, WAPP, Siengui Appolinaire-Ki, said the cost of the project was about $570 million, adding that part of the investment in each country would be funded by that particular nation.
According to him, the countries in the partnership, including Nigeria, are also being supported by donors.
He said the funding agreement was ready as partner countries were awaiting the disbursements.
Appolinaire-Ki, however, said the donor agencies had said they needed a Power Purchase Agreement between the buying and the selling countries to be executed before releasing the fund.

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Reps Probe N275bn Agric Loans Under Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Buhari

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the disbursement of loans and credit facilities by the Federal Government in the agriculture sector since 2009.
The period under review covers the administrations of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan as well as the present President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The resolution was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Chike Okafor at the plenary last Wednesday, titled ‘Need to investigate disbursements of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security’. 
Okafor said, from 2009 to date, the Federal Government had approved the disbursement of funds to farmers in various schemes to the tune of over N275billion, ranging from Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme to the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, to help farmers improve agricultural production and guarantee food security in Nigeria.
The lawmaker also noted that apart from increasing food supply, the schemes were to grant agricultural loans to large and small-scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
He said, “The House is aware that since the approval, most farmers have not been able to access the loans due to stringent requirements being demanded by banks from prospective borrowers and the alleged siphoning of over N105billion meant for farmers by management of NIRSAL.
“The House is concerned that food production has not attained the expected level, despite the approval of over N275billion facilities to farmers. 
“The House is worried that the projected diversification of the economy from oil production to agricultural production and increase in agricultural output, food supply and promoting low food inflation will not be achieved if farmers are unable to access loans meant to increase agricultural production”.
Adopting the motion, the House resolved to mandate the Committee on Banking and Currency to “investigate disbursements and compliance of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security in the country”.

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