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EFCC to arraign 2 top officials of Binance Ltd on Thursday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will, on Thursday, arraign Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, two top officials of Binance Holdings Ltd on five counts of money laundering charge.

It was gathered on Tuesday that Binance, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, who escaped from lawful custody on March 22 and fled Nigeria, will be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja.

Although the crypto exchange firm, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla are listed as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively, Anjarwalla, who is described to be “at large” by the EFCC in the counts, is expected to be arraigned in absentia.

In the charge dated and filed on March 28 by the anti-graft agency, the trio is being accused of money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000.

Count one accused the defendants between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja of carrying on specialised business of other financial institution without valid licence.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial, Institutions Act, 2020 and punishable under Section 57(5) of the same Act.

NAN had, on March 28, also reported that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will, on April 4, arraigned Binance Holdings Limited, Gambaryan and fleeing Anjarwalla, on allegations bordering on tax evasion.

In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, the three defendants will equally be arraigned before Justice Nwite on four counts.

NAN reports that though the FHC’s Easter vacation, which began on March 22, will come to an end on April 8, the Chief Judge of FHC, Justice John Tsoho, directed the transfer of Binance case file to Justice Nwite, even though he is not a vacation judge.

The chief judge granted the fiat for the judge to handle the case during vacation being a matter that concerns dire national interest.

In the charge dated and filed March 22 by the FIRS, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offence on or about Feb. 1.

Count one alleged that while involved in carrying and offering services to subscribers on their platform, known as Binance, failed to register with the FIRS, for the purpose of paying all relevant taxes administered by the service.

The offences are said to be punishable under Sections 8 and 29 of the VAT Act of 1993 (as Amended), Section 40 of the FIRS Establishment Act, 2007 (as amended) and under provisions of Section 94 of the Companies Income Tax Act (as amended) respectively.

The two cases were fixed for Thursday to allow for accelerated hearing.

NAN had, on March 18, reported that Justice Nwite ordered Binance Holdings Limited to provide the EFCC with the comprehensive data or information of all persons from Nigeria trading on its platform.

The judge granted the interim order after ruling on the ex-parte motion moved by the EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho.

The interim order was granted to enable the anti-graft agency unravel the alleged money laundering and terrorism financing on Binance platform.

The commission said it uncovered users who had been using the platform for price discovery, confirmation and market manipulation which had caused tremendous distortions in the market, resulting in the Naira losing its values against other currencies.

The EFCC said that from the information afforded to its team of Investigators by Binance showed that the total trading volume from Nigeria in 2023 alone stood at 21.6 billion dollars .

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Tinubu directs education officials to conduct census of all schools, teachers

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President Bola Tinubu has ordered the conduct of an extensive census to ascertain the fault lines and aid proper planning.

The presidential directive handed down on Thursday, is expected to produce data on all schools in Nigeria from primary to tertiary level, their present conditions and live-in facilities, proximity to one another and infrastructure.

It will also ascertain the number of teachers in the country, their qualifications, training support received, number of pupils and students in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, gender, and exam grades, among others.

The Federal Ministry of Education, currently under Mamman Tahir’s purview, will partly spearhead the process by hosting a portal or dashboard where the critical information will be dropped.

A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity noted that the policy DOTS, an acronym for Data Repository, Out-of-School Children Education, Teacher Training and Development, and Skill Development and Acquisition will comprehensively overhaul the education sector to improve learning and skill development, increase enrolment, and ensure the academic security of the nation’s children.

The presidency said the information that will be derived from the exercise will guide federal and state interventions for teachers’ training and development as well as overall support.

“It will also provide data on gender ratio (boys and girls), their specific learning needs, and who is in school or who has dropped out based on daily monitoring with year-by-year reporting.

“There will be a dedicated portal/dashboard in the Federal Ministry of Education, offices of state governors, and local government chairpersons, which will host and disseminate this information for the federal government, states, and local governments to monitor in real time.

“This new data tracking architecture will enable the government to track the progress of students, thus having a clear data-driven mechanism for interventions, especially concerning out-of-school children, [especially] girls, and those with specific learning disabilities, among others,” the presidential spokesman added.

On the challenges of out-of-school children’s education and training, the Federal Ministry of Education said it is already implementing the government’s policy through the activities of four of its agencies, with about two million beneficiaries already recorded.

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Enugu Govt cautions NERC, EEDC against overcharging electricity consumers

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The Enugu State Government says it will not condone any act of overcharge or extortion of electricity consumers in the state by the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC).

Gov. Peter Mbah gave the warning on Thursday while declaring open a three-day Customer Complaints Resolution Meeting organised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) in Enugu.

Mbah, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Chidiebere Onyia, identified electricity as a product, adding that it should have cost implications which should be fair and reflective of economic realities to all stakeholders.

“I urge NERC not to derail on the steady and quality power supply according to the band classifications,”

According to him, the state government is committed to ensuring that people have access to electricity services in the state.

The governor said that the government was currently studying underserved and unserved communities and would soon constitute the management of the newly established Enugu State Electrification Agency.

“Enugu State is poised to catalyze the economic growth of the South-East through a cost effective and efficient power supply to grow our Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and industries among others,”.

While commending NERC for organising this event, the governor charged the regulatory body to endeavour to resolve most of the challenges faced by customers as complained by them.

He said that the government had started engaging with developers and investors interested in setting up power generation plants under the willing-buyer and willing-seller commercial agreement.

Mbah said that when completed, it would catalyze economic and industrial growth of the state and South-East.

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FG will require N3.2trn to subsidise electricity in 2024 – Official

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The Federal Government says it will require about N3.2 trillion to subsidise electricity in 2024, if the current tarrif increase has to be reversed.
Mr Sanusi Garba, the Chairman, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said this at a stakeholders’ meeting organised by the House of Representatives committee on Power in Abuja on Thursday.

He said that the investments in the sector was not enough to guarantee steady power supply nationwide.

He added that if nothing was done to address foreign exchange fluctuation and non payment for gas, the sector would collapse.

He said that prior to the tarrif review, Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) were only obligated to pay 10 per cent of their energy invoices, adding that lack of cash backing for subsidy had created liquidity challenge for the sector.

He added that as a result of the non payment of subsidy, gas supply and power generation had continued to dip.

He said that the continued decline in the generation and system collapse were largely linked to liquidity challenge.

He said from January 2020 to 2023, the tariff was increased from 55 per cent to 94 per cent of cost recovery.

He added that “the unification of FX and current inflatinary pressurws were pushing cost reflective tarrif to N184/kwh”

“If seating back and doing nothing is the way to go, it will mean that the National Assembly and the Executive would have to provide about N3.2 trillion to pay for subsidy in 2024,” he said.

Garba said that only N185 billion out of the N645 billion subsidy in 2023 was cash backed, leaving a funding gap of N459. 5 billion.
The Vice-Chairman of NERC, Mr Musiliu Oseni also justified the recent tarrif increase, saying the increment was needed to save the sector from total collapse.

Rep. Victor Nwokolo, the Chairman of the Committee said the essence of the meeting was to address the increase in tarrif and the issue of band A and others.

Nwokolo said the officials of NERC and DISCOS had provided useful Information to the committee.

“We have not concluded with them because the Transmission Company of Nigeria is not here and the Generation Companies too.

“From what they have said which is true, is that without the change in tarrif, which was due since 2022, the industry lacks the capital to bring the needed change.

“Of course, the population explosion in Nigeria, is beyond what they have estimated in the past and because they need to expand their own network, they also needed more money, ” he said.

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