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Experts Hail Move To Freeze Non-BVN Accounts

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Financial experts last Monday said the Federal Government’s move to freeze all accounts not covered by Bank Verification Number (BVN) would check money laundering.
The financial experts told newsmen in Lagos while reacting to the court order by the Federal Government mandating banks to freeze all individual and corporate accounts not covered by BVN.
BVN is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the 19 commercial banks in the country to disclose all accounts in their custody and the balances in such accounts.
The court ordered the banks to disclose the details of all such accounts, their owners and their proceeds in their affidavit of compliance deposed to by their Chief Compliance Officers.
It also made an interim order directing the banks to freeze all the said accounts by stopping “all outward payments, operations or transactions’’ pending the hearing of the substantive application seeking the forfeiture of the balances in the accounts to the Federal Government.
The banks were also directed to disclose “any investments made with funds from these accounts without BVN in any products’’.
Such investments to be disclosed by the banks as directed by the court include “fixed/term deposits and their liquidation and interest incurred, bank acceptances, commercial papers and any other relevant information related to the transaction made on the accounts’’.
Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi, Dr Uche Uwaleke, said that compliance with the court order would help to check fraudulent practices, including money laundering.
“I’m totally in support of the court order to freeze all individual and corporate accounts in commercial banks not covered by the BVN.
“It should have even been made long before now considering that the deadline issued by the CBN expired long ago,’’ Uwaleke said.
He said that operating an account without BVN violated the “know your customer’’ directive by the CBN as well as the money laundering Act.
“Why should a bank operate a non-BVN account except for fraudulent reasons?
“So, compliance with the court order will help to check fraudulent practices including money laundering,’’ Uwaleke added.
He said that it would also help to expose questionable sources of wealth such as ones from crime like kidnapping and theft of public funds.
“It will boost the government’s fight against corruption, improve the country’s image and promote investor confidence in Nigeria,’’ he stated.
Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, Prof. SheriffdeenTella, said that all accounts by now should have BVN unless an illegal account.
Tella said that it was wrong for banks to allow transactions in such accounts within the last 18 months.
“If transactions have been taking place in such accounts within the last 18 months, the bank itself will be in trouble,’’ Tella said.
He said that it was right to execute the order to allow for forfeiture of the illegal funds.

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FG Launches Blueprint For Africa’s Digital Trade

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched a comprehensive strategy to spearhead Africa’s digital trade revolution, aligning with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) framework.
The initiative, a key component of President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, is aimed at leveraging trade as a driver of economic growth and continental unity in accordance with AfCFTA’s objectives.
According to Vice President Kashim Shettima, in his X handle (formerly twitter), “Nigeria is in a unique position to spearhead the continent’s technological transformation”.
He said the strategy includes implementing AfCFTA’s Digital Trade Protocol, developing technical talent hubs, enhancing digital infrastructure investments, and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Shettima stated this while delivering a keynote address during a stakeholders’ summit with the theme, “Digital Trade in Africa: The Renewed Hope Strategy”, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Vice President emphasised the need for public-private sector synergy and assured continued government investment in digital infrastructure and human capital development.
On his part, the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijjani, highlighted the Tinubu administration’s substantial investments in all aspects of the digital trade protocol, aiming at harnessing opportunities both in Nigeria and across the continent.
He stated that innovative policies and programmes, such as the Three Million Technical Talent programme, the data protection policy, and increased investments in digital infrastructure, were equipping Nigeria’s young population for current and future opportunities.
Tijjani stressed the critical role of technology in facilitating trade across Africa, noting that the unprecedented opportunities within the single market area could be best leveraged through effective collaboration and networking enabled by digital technology.

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Oil Bearing Communities Okay Exploration In Ogoni Adopt Indigenous Company

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A body under the auspices of Ogoni Oil Bearing Communities has resolved that oil exploration should commence in Ogoni.
The body also adopted an indigenous company, Ogoni Royal Resources and Energy Limited, to operate the Ogoni oil fields located within the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11.
The adoption followed a motion moved by a prominent community leader in the area, Chief Sylvester Kogbara, during a meeting of Ogoni oil producing communities, at Kpite, in Tai Local Government Area of the State.
The decision of the body to adopt an Ogoni indigenous company to explore oil in Ogoni was  taken by the stakeholders after a motion by Chief Sylvester Kogbara from Bodo Community, based on the provisions of the Local Content Act which empowers indigenous firms to participate in oil exploration activities.
Kogbara said: “That the Ogoni Royal Resources and Energy Limited has been adopted as the only indigenous company to mine, process, export and extract oil and gas from Ogoniland. I so move”.
In his address at the meeting, President of Ogoni Oil Bearing Communities (OOBC), Chief Donald Gberesuu, described as unfortunate, the plights and act of marginalisation of the oil bearing communities in the area in the scheme of things perpetrated by certain Ogonis he described as “greedy”, and the Nigerian government.
Gberesuu said: “The plights and act of marginalisation of the Ogoni Oil Bearing Communities in the scheme of things by certain greedy Ogonis and the Nigerian State, is quite unfortunate.
“The oil bearing communities are not subservient and shall not relegate our responsibilities to middlemen and interrupters who are fronting greed and usurpation of common opportunities.
“The Ogoni oil bearing communities hold title to our lands as individuals and as community who should decide the usage of their land, in respect of the oil beneat”.
The body cautioned against division in the rank and file of Ogoni and called for unity of purpose among the people to actualise the objectives of the Ogoni struggle.
Earlier in his remark, the host of the meeting, HRM, King  Samuel Nnee, had declared that the meeting was for the Oil bearing communities to deliberate on issues of development concern, especially on oil exploration resumption in Ogoni.

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Customs Alerts Nigerians On Online Auction, Recruitment Fraudsters 

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has warned the public to be wary of  fraudsters using the name of the Service to perpetrate illegal activities on the social media.
Speaking against the background of advertorials on the social media by some unknown persons indicating that the NCS is currently auctioning some seized items, including vehicles and essential items.
In a statement by the National Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Maiwada, the NCS said the fraudsters have been exploiting public trust and ignorance to promote fictitious auctions and sham recruitment exercises supposedly endorsed by the Service.
It stated that, “The attention of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has been brought to the escalating activities of fraudulent entities preying on unsuspecting individuals through social media platforms, falsely claiming association with the Service for purposes of auctions and recruitment.
“These individuals exploit public trust and ignorance, promoting fictitious auctions and sham recruitment drives supposedly endorsed by the our service.
“The Service wishes to clarify that auctions of seized/overtime goods are never conducted via social media platforms.
“Any such claims on social media should be treated as fraudulent and promptly reported. All seized/overtime goods have a laid-down Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, for disposal in line with the Nigeria Customs Service Act  2023.
“It is pertinent to state that the only portal for e-auction in NCS is http://auction.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng.
“For authentic updates about the operations of NCS, we strongly encourage the public to verify information exclusively through the NCS website, www.customs.gov.ng.
“Our commitment remains unwavering in protecting the public from fraudulent activities. We implore all Nigerians to exercise vigilance and prudence when approached with unverified offers or announcements as  regards NCS auctions or recruitment”.

“Any suspicious activities should be reported to any nearby customs formations”.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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