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First Bank Posts N218bn Gross Earnings

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First Bank of Nigeria Plc, the West African nation’s largest lender, has post N218 billion gross earning at the end of 2008 financial year.

However, Net income dropped to 12.6 billion naira ($85.2 million) in the 12 months through March, from 36.7 billion naira a year earlier, the Lagos-based bank said in a statement distributed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange recently. Revenue climbed 40 per cent to 218.3 billion naira, it said.

The decline in project was a result of the ‘diminution in value of investments occasioned by the situation in the capital market,” the company said in the statement. It didn’t elaborate.

First Bank’s result come after Eurasia Group, a New York-based research Company, said in May that banks in Nigeria may have as much as $10 billion of toxic assets. The bad debt is partly the result of at least 1 trillion naira ($6.8 billion) of so-called margin loans used by speculators to buy shares as equities soared almost 13-fold since 2000, according to Bank of America Corp Nigeria’s All Share Index tumbled 70 per cent in 12 months through March.

First Bank shares advanced the daily limit of 5 per cent to 21 naira on the bourse today. The company declared a dividend of 1.35 naira per share and said it will award one bonus for every six held.

Commenting on the results, Stephen Olabisi Onasanya, Group Managing Director of First Bank said, “Despite the challenging market conditions, First Bank continues to capitalize on its well established value chain in Nigeria’s financial services sector and has achieved another year of strong organic revenue growth.

Recognition of the bank as one of the strongest and most dependable banks in Nigeria, especially in a time of global downturn, has driven considerable growth in our deposit base, with the total group’s deposit liabilities increasing by 71 per cent to N1.2 trillion. Furthermore, strong year-on-year growth was recorded across all business lines. This is a fantastic achievement and First Bank is well positioned to continue to grow its asset base supported by a sustained robust capital position with a strong capital adequacy ratio of 24.69 per cent and stable funding.

“Going forward, our growth aspirations will be driven by our commitment to attain the full benefits of scale and scope by accelerating growth and diversification of assets, revenue and profit. At the strategic level, we have identified three pillars that we believe are integral to our objective: they are acceleration of growth by diversification of assets, revenue and profit; service and operation excellence via a single-minded commitment to operational excellence; the design of appropriate institutional processes, system and capabilities necessary to deliver world class service levels; performance management and people to deliver unmatched results by creating a performance culture with clear individual accountability at all levels as the foundation of what we shall be doing over the medium-term.

“There is no doubt that the trajectory going forward would encounter pockets of turbulence. Within this prognosis, our challenge at First Bank is to build positive momentum around these three pillars and to build on our progress to date”.

Mr Boye Adebayo, acting MD of the Group’s mortgage banking subsidiary commented that, “First Bank’s mortgage business was underpinned by significant income growth from property trading and development in 2008 as our continued IT and HR initiatives enabled us to maintain our competitive edge and grow market share.

This resulted in a 70 per cent rise of our profit before tax for the year. Growth in the medium term will, however depend on a clear focus on servicing the middle market, which we believe will be indispensable.

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Farmer Cries Out Over Cattle Invasion

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A farmer in Aluu Community in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Nwo Nna, has cried out over cattle invasion of his farmland and crops.
Nna made this known in a chat with newsmen in Aluu recently.
He said that the most worrisome aspect of the development was the neglect by the herders of the Anti-Grazing Law passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
The farmer who discribed such as vexatious and  provocative, appealed for intervention by relevant agencies in order to secure their future.
“I got to my  farm on Saturday morning only to see my vegetables, cassava, yam and the entire farm devastated by cows”, he said.
He  expressed regrets that his farm, which was not at the road  had experienced such  attack for the second time.
The farmer noted that it would have been a different ball game, if he had met the herders in his farm.
“The saving grace was that  I did not meet them. They should be called to order to avoid problems”, he said.
He also sought for urgent intervention of  the Rivers State Government, Myyetti Allah and other relevant authorities to warn the herders to keep off people’s farms in the interest of peace.
The farmer further explained that it was becoming a regular practice for herders to parade their cows along the roads, and such  cows  stray into farm lands and  destroy people’s means of livelihood.
While declaring that Rivers people are hospitable, the farmer warned stranger elements, who do not have respect for the laws of the land as well as terrorise other people’s means of livelihood, to take their lawlessness elsewhere.
Other farmers who also responded  called for the establishment of a system that monitors the  activities of herders.
According to them, it will enable those who take their cows into farms to be identified and adequately sanctioned in the event of any invasion by the cows.
This, they said will bring a lasting peace and as well  serve as a deterrent to others.

By: King Onunwor

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EFCC Blames Frauds In Banking Sector On Insiders

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission last Wednesday said most frauds in the banking sector were perpetrated by insider Information, Communication Technology employees.
Head, Cybercrime Section of the EFCC, Abbah Sambo, made the declaration at a national seminar on Banking and Allied Matters for judges in Abuja recently.
Sambo, who represented the EFCC Chairman, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, at the seminar, said that most banking sector frauds handled by the commission showed that bank employees aided the acts.
He also expressed regrets at the increasing rate of cybercrime in spite of efforts by the commission to tackle it.
Sambo observed that in years past, young people involved in cybercrime were not ICT savvy, but today, it was  ICT graduates that are the champions in perpetrating the crime.
He attributed the increase in cybercrime to moral decadence and peer group influence.
“The rate at which young men are perpetrating cybercrime is seriously alarming.
“When we arrest these criminals, one major reason they give for going into the crime is peer influence.Their friends are into it and they want to run with guys that drive the best cars and have the best girls in town”, he said.
He hinted that most times when  the criminals were arrested, a lot of  assets on them,  are  registered in the names of their parents.
“Cars in the names of their mothers and houses in the names of their fathers. There is a fundamental issue relating to decay in moral coverage in the society,’’ he said.
Sambo said that the greatest challenge in fighting cybercrime was the knowledge gap, and  noted  that the criminals were getting more sophisticated.
According to him, the criminals had the ability to talk to one another seamlessly by sharing knowledge, unlike law enforcement agencies.
“A lot of the people trying to combat the crime in the field tend to lack the drive because they do not have adequate training,’’ he said.
He stressed the need for adequate sensitisation and engagement with youths, especially from secondary school level to let them know the ills of crime.
The two-day seminar was organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in collaboration with the National Judicial Institution.

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SEC Frowns At Resurgence Of Ponzi Schemes

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has frowned upon the resurgence of Ponzi schemes and illegal fund managers in the country’s financial sector.
The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, made the observation of the development at an enlightenment workshop with the staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on in Abuja over the week.
Yuguda said  that the unlawful schemes had continued to enjoy massive patronage of the populace and remained a source of concern for regulators in the financial sector.
According to him, the commission was  poised to continue to apply measures and seek the cooperation of relevant stakeholders toward combating the activities of these Ponzi schemes.
He expressed regrets that the upsurge of the schemes had undermined the reputation of the financial markets and dampened investors’ confidence, among other things.
“SEC firmly believes that the country’s capital market can attain its potential if market operators and participants contribute their respective quotas to the growth”, he said.
He also explained that SEC was committed to always ensure and maintain an environment that was enabled by the appropriate regulatory framework, timely and affordable access to market.
“The commission is also committed to zero tolerance for infractions, heightened investor confidence and awareness, innovative product development and good governance practice”, he said
“There is the need to restore investor confidence and improve the participation of retail investors in the market.
He further pointed out that the demography of investors in the country’s capital market showed that the young population do not participate in the capital market, and only a few Nigerians invested in the capital market.
The situation, he said,  created a huge challenge to the market growth and the commission  and added that it was striving to change the narratives by instilling a fair, transparent and orderly market.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, represented by Mr Stephen Okon, Director Home Finance, urged investors to take advantage of the various initiatives in the market.

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