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Court to rule on Nnamdi Kanu’s bail plea, preliminary objection March 19

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, fixed March 19 for ruling on the bail application filed by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Justice Binta Nyako will, also on the same date, rule on a notice of preliminary objection filed by Kanu praying the court not to allow his trial until certain conditions were met by the Federal Government.

Justice Nyako fixed the date after the new counsel for the Federal Government, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, and Kanu’s lawyer, Alloy Ejimakor, adopted their processes and presented their arguments for and against the motions.

IPOB leader was initially standing trial on a 15-count charge bordering on terrorism offences before eight of the counts were quashed by the trial judge leaving seven counts, and the Supreme Court, on Dec. 15, 2023, affirmed the lower court decision.

When the matter was called on Monday, Awomolo told Justice Nyako that the case was coming up for hearing after the decision of the Supreme Court on Dec. 15, 2023.

Awomolo said the apex court affirmed Nyako’s decision of April 8, 2022, by preserving counts one, two, three, four, five, eight and 15 of the charge which Kanu pleaded not guilty of.

The senior lawyer said that the Supreme Court ordered the continuation of trial of Kanu on the remaining seven counts.

“So we are ready to proceed with the hearing of this matter and it is in the defendant’s interest and everybody’s interest in this country to see to the end of the trial” he said.

But Counsel to Kanu, Ejimakor, told the court that he had two motions; an application for bail and a preliminary objection.

He said though he agreed that the Supreme Court directed the continuation of Kanu’s trial, they were not ready to continue the proceedings.

He urged the court to take his client’s bail application and preliminary objection for court to decide whichever way, and the prosecution did not object.

While given grounds why the bail plea should be granted, Ejimakor said Kanu currently suffered from life-threatening and serious health conditions.

According to the lawyer, Kanu has heart disease, hypertension and dangerous potassium levels that pose daily risks to his life while in detention.

He argued that the DSS had no standard medical facility that could treat the defendant but was only subjected to cell-grade medical treatment, which did not abate his conduction but instead worsened it.

He urged the court to grant the bail request on most liberal terms to enable the IPOB leader seek better medical care he urgently requires.

He said though Section 161 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015, raised three conditions for bail to be satisfied, Kanu had met those terms, including ill-health, delayed proceedings and not being given adequate time and facilities to prepare for his defence.

Ejimakor alleged that the prosecution, since Kanu’s arrest and arraignment, had delayed the proceedings for several months through amendment of charges and adjournments

He also argued that he might not be able to put up a good defence unless Kanu was admitted to bail to have unfettered access to his lawyers.

Contrary to the prosecution’s counter affidavit that Kanu jumped bail, the lawyer argued that Kanu only fled for his dear life when his residence was attacked by security agents and that as far back as October 2018, he deposed to an affidavit to explain the circumstances.

But Awomolo disagreed with Ejimakor, insisting that the defendant violated the bail conditions, jumped bail and fled the country,.

He said there was no evidence before the court that if granted another bail, he would not jumped bail, urging the court to dismiss the application.

The senior lawyer said Kanu’s failure to prove that there was no standard medical facility in Department of State Service (DSS)’ detention contradicted Section 161(2a) of ACJA.

“So he has not been able to satisfied Section 161(2a),”:he said.

He argued that the IPOB leader had not tendered anything tangible or extraordinary to show he was entitled to bail.

On the delayed proceedings, Awomolo said the court itself observed that both parties were responsible.

The lawyer, who argued that the Supreme Court had settled issues about Kanu’s rendition, said other judgments in favour of the IPOB leader were only persuasive, and not binding on Justice Nyako.

On the preliminary objection, Ejimakor said the application prayed for an order that before any proceeding could commence in the trial, the Federal Government must cease and desist from certain conducts.

He said these include seizure of documents of his lawyers, stopping his lawyers from taking notes during visitation, and eavesdropping on Kanu’s consultation with lawyers on matters pertaining to his defence,

He also sought an alternative order that before commencement of trial, a non-custodial arrangement be made so as to afford Kanu adequate time and facilities to prepare for his defence.

But Awomolo, who opposed the application, described it as an abuse of court process.

He argued that a party cannot dictate to court how to conduct its proceedings.

He said it was an insult to the court for a party to dictate that unless the detaining authority acts in certain ways, trial should not commence.

The lawyer, who said that the prosecution had never breached the fundamental rights of the IPOB leader, urged the court to dismiss the application.

Justice Nyako adjourned the matter until March 19 for ruling and trial commencement for March 20.

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CIBN backs bank recapitalisation for enhanced economic growth

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The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has expressed support for the planned recapitalisation exercise for banks in the country.

Ken Opara, President/Chairman of Council, CIBN, expressed this during the 2024 annual lecture of the institute on Tuesday in Lagos.

Opara said adequate liquidity within the banking system was fundamental to fostering sustainable economic growth and development.

He said that the recapitalisation would further help banks to deepen liquidity and guarantee access to credit needed for economic growth and prosperity.

He said that CIBN and the Nigeria Exchange Group (NGX) had formed collaborations toward building capacity for the recapitalisation of banks.

Opara added that the institute was also collaborating with Africa Guarantee Fund (AGF) for capacity building for SMEs, preparing them and building their capacity to access finance.

He called for more allocation of credit to the real sector, which was the foundation of the nation’s economic activities for increased liquidity.

Opara stressed the need for addressing challenges faced by the sector to enhance its competitiveness against foreign counterparts.

To resolve the challenges, he urged the government to improve further the ease of doing business and infrastructural development, such as power, roads, and rail networks.

The CIBN president also called for industrial centres where companies could co-habit and share common infrastructure,
harmonise and reduce the various taxes and levies, including locating them in a single hub.

He said the theme, “Improving Availability of Credit in the Nigerian Real Economy: The Critical Importance of Liquidity”, was timely to address current challenges in the nation.

“As we navigate the complexities of our current economic landscape, it has become increasingly evident that ensuring adequate liquidity within the banking system is fundamental to fostering sustainable economic growth and development.

“The real economy comprises the agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and services sectors and serves as the tangible foundation of the nation’s economic activity.

“These sectors collectively represent the intricate web of goods and services that drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, and enhance the overall standard of living.

“Despite the significant relevance of the real sector, access to credit for such key sectors compared to other climes is relatively low,” he said.

He said a survey conducted in more than 40 economies and released by Statista in 2024 revealed that nearly 141 trillion dollars worth of credit was lent to the real sector in advanced economies in the second quarter of 2022.

He added that the figures were twice as high as the volume of credit to the same sector in emerging markets.

He commended improvements in liquidity within Nigeria’s real sector but called for increased credit to sector, particularly agriculture.

“According to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Net Domestic Credit stood at 66.4 trillion Naira as of December 2022, showcasing the substantial credit extended by financial institutions to the real sector of the economy.

“This figure experienced a significant surge to 96.1 trillion Naira by December 2023, highlighting the tremendous potential for growth and development in the real sector,” he said.

He listed credit volume allocated to the key sectors, saying the Agricultural sector had N5.8 trillion representing about six per cent of the total credit.

He said the manufacturing sector had N19.7 trillion, representing approximately 21 per cent of the total credit, while the services sector had N36 trillion, representing 37.4 per cent of the total credit.

“I humbly propose that we consider offering more credit to these key sectors and particularly the agriculture sector.

“It is for this reason, ladies and gentlemen, that the recapitalisation exercise is a welcome development.

“The recently announced upward review of the Minimum Capital Requirements of Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria would further empower banks to extend more credit to the economy’s productive sectors,” he said.

The Guest Speaker, Prof. Graham Penn, speaking on the theme, explained how other developed countries were leveraging on credit and the need for Nigeria to increase liquidity for economic prosperity.

Penn, a professor of International Finance Law at University College London, listed challenges and measures Nigerian banks, regulators and businesses could adopt to implement laws and regulations to facilitate true sale securitisation.

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NERC transfers regulatory oversight of electricity market in Ekiti to state govt

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), says it has transfered regulatory oversight of electricity market in Ekiti State to the state Electricity Regulatory Bureau (EERB).
The commission said this in a statement posted on its website in Abuja on Tuesday.
The commission said the transfer was in compliance with the amended Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) and the Electricity Act 2023 (Amended).
The statement recalled that with the  Electricity Act (EA) 2023, the commission retains the role as central regulator with regulatory oversight on the inter-state and international generation, transmission, supply, trading and system operations.
According to the statement, the Act also mandates any state that intends to establish and regulate intrastate electricity markets to deliver a formal notification of its processes.
The statement also said that the state had to request NERC to transfer regulatory authority over electricity operations in the state to the state regulator.
”Based on this, the government of Ekiti complied with the conditions precedent in the laws, duly notified NERC and requested for the transfer of regulatory oversight of the intrastate electricity market in Ekiti.
”The commission in the Order made the following provisions: direct Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and Ibadan Electricity Distribution (IBEDC) Company to incorporate a subsidiary (BEDC SubCo and IBEDC SubCo).
”The two distribution companies are to assume responsibilities for intrastate supply and distribution of electricity in Ekiti State from BEDC and IBEDC.
”BEDC and IBEDC shall complete the incorporation of BEDC SubCo and IBEDC SubCo within 60 days from April 22.
”The sub companies shall apply for and obtain licences for the intrastate supply and distribution of electricity from EERB, among other directives,”it said
The commission said that all transfers envisaged by the Order shall be completed by October 22.
 NERC had also transfered regulatory oversight of the Enugu electricity market to the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
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Minister summons Lead British Int. School over bullying allegation

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The Federal Ministry of Education on Tuesday summoned Lead British International School, Abuja over an alarming viral online video regarding alleged bullying incidents at the school.
At the meeting held in Abuja, the Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu, emphasised government’s steadfast stance against any form of harassment or intimidation within educational institutions.
The delegation from the school to the meeting was led by Mr Abraham Ogunkanmbi, Head of School.
Sununu expressed deep concern over the circulated video.and assured that government would take decisive actions to forestall reoccurrence in any institution of learning.
The minister appointed a seven-member committee to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the documented incidents.
The committee’s mandate, he said, was to investigate the events as depicted in the videos and come up with expanded investigation to other schools, using Lead British International School as a case study, to address broader social vices.
Sununu underscored the importance of establishing stronger bonds between school authorities and students.
He said such bond would facilitate immediate responses to similar incidents in the future., emphasising the critical role of communication in resolving such issues.
The minister assured Nigerian of the government’s commitment to ensuring safety and protecting the rights of all students.
He, also reiterated the seriousness of the  ministry in addressing and eradicating vices within the education sector.
Contribution, the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Didi Walson-Jack, inquired about the existence of an anonymous suggestion box at the school, where students could lodge their complaints discreetly.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Ogunkanmbi said the school had launched investigations into the unfortunate incidence.
He assured the ministry that appropriate measures would be taken in response to the incidents, including disciplinary actions in accordance with the school’d policies.
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