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Court Halts Acquisition of Spring Bank

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Justice Lambo Akanbi of the Federal High Court has described the role played by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the acquisition of Spring Bank Plc by Bank PHB as reckless and with impunity. Regretting their role, Akanbi in an interlocutory ruling in Lagos last Wednesday stopped the defendants from taking any steps towards the changing of the name, logo and title of Spring Bank either on its own or as member of the board of Bank PHB. Lord Chief Udensi Ifegwu and Emmanuel U. Okorie, the two aggrieved shareholders of Spring Bank had in the wake of moves by Bank PHB to acquire the bank last year, Approached the court to halt the planned acquisition. The plaintiffs argued that due process of law was ignored by the respondents in acquiring the bank. Named as respondents to the suit were Bank PHB, Spring Registrars Limited, CBN, SEC, NSE, Spring Bank and Westcom Technologies and Energy Services Limited. Upon the filing of the suit, the court in October 2008, gave an interim order, restraining the respondents from sanctioning planned acquisition of the shares of Spring Bank by Bank PHB pending the determination of the suit. It also restrained Bank PHB from passing any resolution of its meeting schedule to hold at the Ballroom of Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos or any date orday or any other place or venue, with a view to passing any resolution on the bidding for shares of Spring Bank or on the acquisition of Spring Bank in any form or shape, pending the determination of the motion on notice. Despite the court’s order, the respondents went ahead with the take over process and later announced the acquisition of the share capital of Spring Bank by Bank PHB. Justice Akanbi held that it was rather “regrettable unfortunate and sad that agencies of the Federal Government (CBN, NSE and SEC) in total disregard for the rule of law and in a brazen show of power proceeded to batter the much cherished laudable and welcome desire of President Umaru Yar’Adua to give to the country, a lasting democracy built on a solid foundation of the rule by colluding with other respondents to disregard the order of the court”. He further held that disobedience of court should be “seen as an offence, not only directed against the personality of the Judge, but as a calculated act of subversion of peace, law and order in the Nigeria society”. Justice Akanbi said he was of the view that “for a nation such as ours to have stability and respect for democracy, obviously the rule of law must be allowed to follow its normal course unencumbered. “Obedience of orders of court is fundamental to the good order, peace and stability of the society. The ugly alternative is a painful remembrance or the triumph of brute force or anarchy. I regret to observe that those agencies of government are promoting anarchy and executive indiscipline capable of wrecking the organic framework of the society. “Such a despicable act on the part of the CBN, NSE and SEC must not be condoned. It must not be condoned. It must be condemned in all its ramification and force and I have no hesitation to condemn it. The CBN, NSE and SEC acted recklessly, contemptuously and shamelessly by going ahead to do an act in which there is a pending application for the court to restrain. “The integrity of the court is at stake and court must therefore intervene to protect and preserve such integrity lest it will be made a laughing stock and will be seen no longer as the last hope of the common man.

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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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