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USSD Charge: Subscriber Groups Threaten To Take Legal Action

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Subscriber groups have threatened to take legal action as soon as the new Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) service charge of N6.98 takes effect.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had announced that USSD services for financial transactions would be charged at a flat rate fee of N6.98 per transaction.
This followed threats by the Mobile Network Operators to withdraw the USSD services from the banks due to an outstanding debt of over N42bn.
The President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria, Deolu Ogunbanjo, however, described the charge as a step back from financial inclusion.
According to him, it was unacceptable that the quarrel between the banks and the telecom operators was resolved by taxing subscribers
He said the banks should have rather been charged.
“Everything in telecoms that’s meant to put smiling faces on subscriber faces is now being eroded. Why should they increase the USSD transaction fee? It’s appalling and condemnable, and we’ll take it up with them,” Ogunbajo said.
He stated that the group would take the banks to court if the charge gets implemented.
The Association of Telephone, Cable TV and Internet Subscribers has also expressed displeasure over the new USSD service charge.
The national president of the association, Sina Bile-sanmi, said the charge was unacceptable and must be rejected by every bank account holder.
“It is exploitative and this dictatorial act must stop forthwith. I am amazed that the same CBN that was initially opposed to the unjustified increase in USSD service charge in 2019 now made the announcement of the hike,” Bilesanmi said.
The ATCIS president called for the immediate reversal of the USSD service charge.
“If the Central Bank of Nigeria and telecommunication companies did not revert to the previous rate, we shall institute a legal action against them,” he added.
However, the National Coordinator, Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola said, the N6.98 USSD charge is a fair fee and could be viewed as a lower cost of using the USSD platform to interact with financial services.
Teniola stated, “I think this is just a way forward. It would improve the financial inclusion that the country needs to move it from its current position to 80 per cent financial inclusion.”
“We always were seeking an amicable resolution to the debts that are outstanding
And I believe that’s certain to happen now that there has been an intervention by the minister.”
Also, the Executive Secretary, Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, Ajibode Olude, said the new charge favoured consumers.
He explained that the USSD channel was a service that had to be paid for because the telecom companies spent a lot to maintain the service.
He appreciated the resolution made by the CBN and NCC to recover the outstanding debts to the telcos.
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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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