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FMARD issues certificate of registration, sales permit to fertilizer operators

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By Olaseinde Gbenga

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has presented certificate of Registration and sales permit to fertilizer operators. The presentation was made on Thursday in Abuja by the Permanent Secretary Dr Ernest Umakhihe.

The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director of Special Duties, Mrs Fausat Lawal, revealed that the Ministry had trained and deployed to the 36 States and FCT, Fertilizer and Agricultural Pesticides Quality Control Inspectors who are currently working with relevant security agencies to ensure compliance with the provisions of Act and Regulations, in order to protect the farmers and the industries.

He pointed out that the non-licensed operators are not allowed to produce, blend, import, market or distribute fertilizers in the country. Then urged the suppliers to ensure that only licensed agro-dealers are allowed to buy their products, likewise to abide strictly and operate within the provisions of the Act and the implementing regulations.

Umakhihe revealed that a grace period of two months has been granted for those who have not obtained theirs as failure to do so will have their facilities sealed off with resultant prosecution, which is to reiterate that the Ministry through its authorized agent will continue to seal premises of fertilizer adulterators as it was witnessed in Kano and Adamawa State once the Certificate of Registration and Sales Permits are concluded.

The Permanent Secretary asserted the Act required that upon fulfilment of all required conditions, fertilizer, suppliers, manufacturers/producers, blenders and importers will be issued with the Certificate of Registration while Agro-dealers (distributors) that fulfil the same will be issued with the sales permit. It should also be displayed in a strategic area of their facilities pointing out that the National Fertilizer Quality Control (NFQC) Act was in the process of repealing to accommodate Agricultural Pesticides in the Act.

He explained that the essence was to consolidate and expand the Act, curtail the effect of contaminated foods and address the blending of adulterated fertilizers for the interest of farmers, genuine operators and the protection of environment.

He commended the Federal Government for the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act signed into law by Mr. President in 2019 as well as the implementing regulations that were signed by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2020 require that all companies that would operate in Nigeria must be registered and get the Certificate of Registration and Sales Permit from the authorized implementing authority.

Umahkhihe also stated that it was clear that global food security challenges had worsened as a result of Ukraine and Russia’s conflicts coupled with the issues like instability in the rate of foreign exchange had disrupted livelihoods.

He however pointed out that efforts were on to address the challenges to enhance the food production and food security challenges, particularly those affecting the fertilizer industry.

He further revealed that efforts were being made to source basic raw materials that were not available in the country. Like, Urea and Limestone (NPKs) which are obtained locally while Diammonia Phosphate (DAP) and Muriate of Potash (MOP) are sourced from Morocco and Belarus.

The resultant scarcity he noted, gave rise to the high cost of the raw materials and the price of the corresponding finished products-NPKs but to tackle the issue head-on, the Ministry is working with the relevant agencies to source the two important raw materials locally through the Solid Mineral Development Fund to guide against future scarcity.

Earlier in his remarks, the Director, Farm Inputs Support Services Department, Mr Kwaido Sanni represented by Deputy Director Ishaku Ardo Buba said that since the enactment of the fertilizer regulatory system in 2019, a lot of activities and programmes were designed and put in place as a guide or roadmap to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the Act the Regulations to achieve its aims and objectives.

He explained further that the implementation process of the Fertilizer Act and the Fertilizer Regulations were flagged off in March 2020 and followed with training and deployment of Fertilizer Quality Control Inspectors to all the 36 States and FCT; provision of Inspectors branded Motorcycles and kits to inspect and facilitate their desired activities.

He reiterated that the Act and Regulations were not intended to create a stumbling-block to the operators’ business but to protect the genuine and entrepreneurs, the farmers, the environment and the entire citizenry from both economic and human losses.

In his goodwill messages, Representative of National Security Adviser, Mr Sunny Okile commended the Ministry for a great event and congratulated all the operators for acquiring legal permits. He urged them to operate within the provisions of the Act and the Regulations.

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How I collected $3m cash for Emefiele – CBN employee

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A Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) employee, Mr Monday Osazuwa, on Friday told an Ikeja Special Offences Court how the former apex bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, on different occasions, directed him to collect three million dollars cash in tranches.

Osasuwa, while being led in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), said he was a dispatch rider in Zenith Bank in 2001 before he joined the CBN in 2014.
Osasuwa said he joined the apex bank as a senior supervisor in 2014.

He said Emefiele was the Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc while he was working as a dispatch rider in the bank.
The witness said he knew Emefiele, who was his boss, while in Zenith Bank and that he later joined him at the CBN.
The witness said he was later appointed  as a senior supervisor (full time) in recording and filing of documents while working in the CBN governor’s office in Lagos.

“I was still working in the CBN governor’s office while I was appointed as a full staff member and we usually communicated through Whatsapp and email.

“I function as a senior supervisor, recording  and filing with other official roles.

“I recall that in 2020, when he was outside Lagos, he called me that he would give me a number that a man had something I should collect from him and that the man would give me the number of another person.

“When I got to the man’s office, I was given an envelope. I  counted the money and the man said I should give it to my boss,” he said.

The witness further told the court that the first defendant used to collect money by himself  anytime he was in Lagos but anytime the defendant was not around, he would tell him to give the money to the second defendant.
Osazuwa added that Emefiele sent him to MINL Ltd. when he was with Zenith Bank.

“This company is situated at Isolo, the first defendant did send me to collect cheques from the company from Mr Monday and when I collected the cheque from Mr Monday, I would give it back to Emefiele and he would lodge the money into Dumies Oil and Gas.

According to him, Emefiele’s co-defendant, Henry Isioma-Omoile, lived in the residence of the former CBN governor.

He stated that when he collected money for his boss, he would take it to his residence at Iru Close, Ikoyi.
“Whenever I received the money and take it to my boss’s residence, Mr Emefiele would tell me to give it to the second defendant whenever he was not at home.

“I did not keep a record of transactions because the instruction he gave me was that I should collect the money and bring the money to his house.

“The highest amount I collected was one million dollars all in cash and some weeks later, the businessman also called me to collect $850,000, $750,000 and $400,000 cash in tranches.

“I have never been rewarded, paid or given anything because I am doing it out of faithfulness and he knows it but he has never for once said, ‘take this’,” he said.

Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Mr Abdulakeem Labi-Lawal, the witness confirmed  to the court that he had been working with the defendant since 2002.

According to the witness, Emefiele passed instructions to him through the second defendant and that he had been collecting cheques for Dumies Oil and Gas.

He, however, told the court when he was made to confront the second defendant during investigation but the second  defendant failed to admit it.

“I started collecting cheques for Dumies Oil and Gas when I was in Zenith Bank.

“I cannot calculate the exact year I have been collecting the cheques but it all started when the first defendant was the Managing Director at Zenith Bank and I was working at Zenith Bank,” he said.

EFCC on April 8 arraigned Emefiele on 23 counts bordering on abuse of office, accepting gratifications, corrupt demand, receiving property fraudulently obtained and conferring corrupt advantage.

Emefiele’s co-defendant was arraigned on three counts bordering on acceptance of gift by agents.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Earlier, Oshodi had declined the oral application for adjournment moved twice by the defence counsel.
The judge adjourned the case until April 29 for trial and hearing of application for closed-session.

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Anambra boat mishap: Police recover 3 more bodies

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The Police Command in Anambra, said it had recovered three more bodies from the  boat mishap that occurred on Wednesday, in Anam community, Anambra West Local Government Area of the state.

The command’s spokesperson, SP Tochukwu Ikenga, said this in a statement in Awka on Friday.

Ikenga said that the command’s Marine Police unit in Anambra recovered the remaining three bodies of the boat accident during the shooting of a movie.

He said that two of the bodies were recovered on April 11, while the last body was washed ashore by the tide early Friday.

Ikenga said that the bodies have been deposited in an undisclosed mortuary in Asaba, Delta.

He said that the President of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) has been notified of the recovery.

“Mr Aderemi Adeoye, Commissioner, Anambra Police Command, has urged all water commuters to be safety conscious,” he said.

He advised water commuters to avoid behaviour that might jeopardise their safety and that of others on water transit.

Adeoye assured that the command would thoroughly investigate the cause of the sad accident that claimed the lives of five actors and proffer a lasting solution.

He commended the Marine Command Unit and its Commander for their dedication to duty.

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FIRS generates N12.3 trn in 2023 – CEO

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The Chief Executive, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Zacch Adedeji, said that the organisation witnessed unprecedented progress in revenue collection, culminating in a remarkable achievement of N12.3 trillion in 2023.
The chief executive, who was represented by a staff of the organisation, Mrs Aisha Ribadu, said this on Friday at the FIRS special day at the ongoing 35th Enugu International Trade Fair.
Adedeji said that this success was a testament to its dedication to nurturing and empowering its workforce, and to ensuring they possessed the skills, knowledge and tools necessary to excel.
He expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the Enugu State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA) for its discerning choice of theme, “Promoting Made-in-Nigeria Products for Global Competitiveness”.
The FIRS boss added that the choice of theme reflected the collective aspiration to not only dominate the African market but to assert relevance on the global stage.
“Investing in human capital is the cornerstone of sustainable development, and nations that prioritise human  development inevitably experience  enduring growth and prosperity.
“The FIRS has spearheaded transformative reforms aimed at diversifying revenue sources and enhancing the overall taxpayer experience.
 “One of such initiatives is the introduction of the Taxpromax Solutions, an innovative e-service platform designed to empower taxpayers to fulfill their obligations seamlessly from anywhere at any time,” Adedeji said.
He expressed gratitude to ECCIMA for affording the FIRS the invaluable opportunity to showcase its commitment to national development.
In a welcome address, the ECCIMA President, Mr Odeiga Jideonwo, said that the essence of the special day was to bring the business community and the general public closer to the activities and operations of the FIRS.
 Jideonwo, who was represented by the first Deputy President, Nnanyereugo Onyemelukwe, said that the FIRS should  work in tandem with other agencies of government and stakeholders in the organised private  sector.
He said that it would enable the FIRS to redefine and streamline tax administration and regime in the country.
” It will also bring about a society  wherein the rich and poor will leverage each other in contributing to the development of the society in a fair and just manner, as it affects company tax by various businesses,” he said.
 He commended the chief executive for its various innovations aimed at voluntary bringing into the FIRS database, companies in order to boost the tax network.
Jideonwo added that it would also boost revenue with the attendant grace offered in the process to those who had been evading tax payment.
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