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Naira swap: Heavy protest rocks CBN Headquarters over Supreme Court ruling

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…Buhari, Emefiele in closed-door meeting

…As S’Court bars FG from Feb.10 deadline

…Extend Feb.10 deadline, revisit cashless policy — Govs

Olaseinde Gbenga, Abuja

The Presidency and the authorities of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may have been cut in another mist over the Naira redesign controversies, as the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Wednesday granted an order restraining the Federal Government from carrying on with the full implementation of the demonetisation policy.

A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice John Okoro, in a unanimous ruling, granted an interim injunction restraining the Federal Government, CBN and their agents and commercial banks from implementing the February 10 deadline set for the  old denominations of 200, 500 and 1,000 Naira notes to cease from being legal tender.

Justice Okoro, who delivered the ruling on the motion, held that after careful consideration of the motion ex parte the application is granted as prayed, “An order of Interim Injunction restraining the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”

The apex court further held that the Federal Government, CBN and commercial banks must not continue with the deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue on February 15.

The verdict trailed the legal suit instituted by three northern states – Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara – which in a motion ex-parte filed on February 3rd, prayed the Supreme court to halt the CBN Naira redesign policy.

The three States had specifically applied for an order of Interim Injunction restraining “the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria or the commercial banks from suspending or determining or ending on February 10, 2023, the time frame with which the now older version of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denomination of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of their motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.”

Moving the application on Wednesday, counsel to the applicants, Mr A. I. Mustapha, SAN said that the policy led to an “excruciating situation that is almost leading to anarchy in the land.”

He urged the apex court to grant the application in the interest of justice and the welfare of Nigerians.

He referenced the CBN statistics which put the number of people without bank accounts at over 60 per cent.

Lamenting that the few Nigerians with bank accounts have not been able to access their monies from banks as a result of the policy, he argued that unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the situation will lead to anarchy because most banks are already closing operations.

Justice Okoro adjourned to February 15, 2023 for hearing of the main suit.

…Buhari receives CBN Gov. in Aso Rock after Court order

Meanwhile, barely few hours after the Court order, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, again received the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele in Aso Rock, Abuja.

The meeting it was gathered was not unconnected with discussions over the controversies which have trailed the implementation of the naira redesign policy which has attracted wild reactions following the scarcity of naira notes and its attendant consequences.

…Protest rocks CBN Headquarters over Supreme Court ruling

Meanwhile, a Civil Society Organisation, the Civil Society Central Coordinating Council (CSCCC) on Wednesday, stormed the headquarters of the CBN in Abuja, to protest against the ruling of the Supreme Court on the deadline for use of old Naira notes.

The National Coordinator of CSCCC, Obed Okwukwe, while speaking on

Wednesday, urged Buhari to issue an executive order maintaining February 10 as the deadline for use of old naira notes.

Okwukwe added that the apex court order did not restrain the exercise of the constitutional powers of the president.

He also called on the Supreme Court not to yield its platform for election riggers to have access to illicit cash to compromise the forthcoming elections.

…Extend Feb. 10 deadline, revisit cashless policy — Govs to Buhari

Meanwhile, the 36 State Governors in Nigeria have urged President Buhari to extend the deadline for the implementation of the old naira notes swap with its new equivalent.

The Governors, under the aegis Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), made the demand in a letter addressed to the President dated February 6, 2023, signed by the Chairman of the Forum Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.

The Governors also urging Buhari to revisit the cashless policy of the CBN, said in the letter, “Even though the identified constraints are to be found in almost every state in the country, they are particularly evident in states like Borno in the North East and Bayelsa in the South-South where one finds a pitiable number of banks located only in the State capital which would basically render the workability of the new policies impossible for now.

“The speed of implementation of the policy is a recipe for anarchy in the country and we urge a re-think of the policy. Regarding the reviewed cash withdrawal limit, we have found from synthesising experiences across the country that the informal sector in the States, particularly in the Northern and Niger Delta States almost wholly depends on cash transactions because of the nature of their trade.

“It is our view, Sir, that an immediate limitation in the use of cash without robust engagement with stakeholders as well as the provision of accessible alternatives will deny such people legitimate sources of livelihood.

“We fear that the cumulative effect of these unintended but very profound and probable consequences of these policies would be a rise in the number of unemployed and unengaged persons who will inevitably resort to crime to make ends meet. This has a dangerous implication for the security of the country and the potential to derail Mr President’s security agenda.

“We most respectfully pray Mr President to approve an expanded time frame for the implementation of the policy and direct the CBN to make the new notes available within the enlarged time frame.

“Direct a thorough assessment of the prevailing economic conditions related to the implementation of the currency change and cash withdrawal limit policies. Direct that States be involved in future discussions regarding the policies in order to have revised policies that would recognize and consider states’ peculiarities.

“Consider and approve the putting in place of necessary infrastructure and facilities within a reasonable time frame to facilitate the implementation of the policy, including introducing incentives to encourage the use of digital payment solutions. This will help reduce the pressure on physical cash and promote financial inclusion, investing in infrastructure to expand access to financial services.

“Direct that a robust enlightenment campaign be mounted to create sufficient awareness in the citizens of the thrust of the policy. This will help people better understand the implications of the naira redesign and cash withdrawal limits and how to use digital payments platforms.”

The naira redesign policy has been clouded with controversies with the scarcity of naira notes biting hard on the masses, a situation which has generated into protests across the country.

Nigerians have begun to fear the situation may degenerate into a national crises that may affect the general elections, as political parties have begun to suspend their campaigns.

In consultation, President Buhari had on Tuesday met again with the CBN Governor, over the scarcity of naira notes in the Country.

In attendance were also Governor of Sokoto State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Aminu Tambuwal; Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu; the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor; and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa.

The Federal Government, had on Tuesday, accused opposition political parties that went to court to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari, from stopping, extending or interfering with the Naira swap deadline date, of being inconsiderate.

It also accused the parties of politicising the situation, stressing that they were not mindful of the plight of Nigerians over the currency crunch, but have turned the situation into an instrument of political game.

Recall that on Monday, 14 political parties threatened to boycott the February 25 election should the CBN extend the February 10 deadline for the currency swap which it had earlier announced.

This was just as a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory restrained the President, the CBN, its Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and 27 commercial banks from suspending, stopping, extending or interfering with the currency swap terminal date.

The order was handed down on Monday by Justice E. Enenche following an application by four political parties.

Reacting to this, while speaking at the 23rd edition of the PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023), which featured the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the action by the political parties was unscrupulous.

He said, “Recall that after his (Buharis’) meeting with the Progressives Governors’ Forum on Friday, President Buhari urged the citizens to give him a seven-day window to resolve the currency crunch that has emanated from the implementation of the Naira redesign policy.

“Unfortunately, on Monday, some opposition political parties ran to court to obtain an injunction restraining Mr President and the CBN from extending the February 10 deadline for Nigerians to exchange their old notes for new ones.

“These curious actions by the parties concerned are a clear evidence that the opposition has turned this whole issue into a political game, preferring to make Nigerians suffer more on the altar of an unconscionable political gamesmanship.

“Or how else can one explain the fact that these unscrupulous opposition parties do not want any action that could reduce the pains being experienced by Nigerians?

“How else can one explain the fact that they have decided to legally hamstring Mr President, in particular, from providing any relief for Nigerians suffering from the cash crunch?”

He argued that it was bad politics when one puts the interest of desperate political parties over and above that of Nigerians.

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Ondo 2024: APC will remain party of choice — Sanwo-Olu

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…Receives congratulatory letter as Zonal Coordinator for APC South-West

…South-West APC leaders back Lagos Governor as Zonal Coordinator

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Sunday said the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-West Zone will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure the party remains the party of choice.

Sanwo-Olu stated this position as the preparation for the November 16 governorship election in Ondo state is in top gear.

According to a press release signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Gboyega Akosile, Sanwo-Olu said members of the National Working Committee and Zonal Working Committee in the zone had resolved to intervene on issues and engage with critical stakeholders to ensure they were not only taken care of but also enjoyed the dividends of democracy.

Governor Sanwo-Olu who is the APC Zonal Coordinator for South-West pledged to live up to the responsibility by working with the entire team to reposition and strengthen the party in the South-West.

It would be recalled that the APC National Chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, inaugurated and presented letters to six governors at the party headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday, March 26, to coordinate party activities and reconcile aggrieved members of the party in each of the six geo-political zones.

The zonal coordinators are Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (South-West), Hope Uzodinma of Imo (South-East), Bassey Otu of Cross River (South-South), AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara (North-Central), Mai Mala Buni of Yobe (North-East), and Uba Sani of Kaduna (North-West).

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with the APC National and Zonal Executive members from the South-West at Lagos House, Marina, on Sunday, Sanwo-Olu said the inaugural meeting with the party’s national and zonal executives was to deliberate and come up with far-reaching decisions that would put the party on its feet and the right pedestal.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was handed a congratulatory letter on his appointment as the Zonal Coordinator for APC South-West by the officials.

He said, “We are engaging in all the issues that we have in all our states and trying to bring all of us together. We are beginning to look at areas where we can indeed intervene as a zone, especially with critical stakeholders. We have identified students, youths, and people living with disabilities. We all have things we can do differently.

“We all have things from the South-West that we can continue to push into our national conversation to ensure that the stakeholders in the region are very focused and ensure that people feel the real dividends of democracy. And to generally put APC as the biggest party in Africa, the biggest party in the country, and to continue to remain the biggest party in the South-West.

“We have identified the places we need to work, and the work is continuous. We are working in Oyo State. We will continue to work in Osun State. We will continue to work in Ondo State. Ondo State has a unique issue because we have an election coming up that affects all parties.

“There are candidates that have been thrown out; there are people who have aspired to be aspirants and will turn out to be candidates after the primary elections. We are all brothers and sisters; we will resolve all our issues in-house, and I want to assure you that APC will continue to remain the party of choice in Ondo State.”

Also speaking at the inaugural meeting, the national and zonal officers of APC in the South-West passed a vote of confidence in Governor Sanwo-Olu, saying the appointment of the Governor as zonal coordinator by the national leadership of the party is well deserved.

The APC national and zonal officers from the South-West, while presenting a congratulatory letter to Governor Sanwo-Olu during their inaugural meeting with the Governor, pledged their support and loyalty to the Zonal Coordinator as he leads the South-West of the party to strengthen and reposition it for the future.

Reading a communiqué after the meeting, APC National Vice Chairman (South-West), Hon. Isaac Kekemeke, said they have decided to ensure harmonisation and reconciliation in all the states in the South-West, particularly in Oyo, Osun, and Ondo State, where the party will participate in a governorship election later this year.

He said they also resolved to prioritise empowerment and engagement with students, youths, women, and persons with disabilities, amongst other initiatives.

The communique read, “After discussing the challenges facing the party in the South-West zone, the meeting resolved to immediately set up a zonal office of the party in Ibadan and also to immediately set up a liaison and operational office in Lagos since the zonal coordinator is the Governor of Lagos.

“The meeting also resolved, as part of engagement with the leadership, formal and informal, of the party, to convene a South-West Assembly of the All Progressives Congress in early June this year.

“The meeting also resolved that, under the leadership of Governor Sanwo-Olu, this forum will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders, to ensure their empowerment and productive engagement by the government of the federation and various governments in the South-West.”

Among the APC national and zonal executive members from South-West who attended the meeting are; National Secretary, Senator Bashir Ajibola; National Youth Leader, Mr. Dayo Israel; Deputy National Auditor, Hon. Femi Egbedeyi; National Ex-Officio Member (South-West), Hon. Olubunmi Oriniowo; National Vice Chairman (South-West), Hon. Isaac Kekemeke; Zonal Secretary, Hon. Vincent Bewaji; Zonal Organising Secretary, Dr. Lateef Ibirogba; Zonal Publicity Secretary, Chief Ayo Afolabi.

Others are Zonal Woman Leader, Hon. Yetunde Adesanya; Zonal Leader of People Living with Disability, Comrade Moshood Erubami and APC Chairmen in South-West states, Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi (Lagos), Chief Yemi Sanusi (Ogun), Chief Isaac Omodewu (Oyo),  Sooko Tajudeen Lawal (Osun), Engr. Ade Adetimehin (Ondo) and  Hon. Sola Elesin (Ekiti).

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Alleged misappropriation: EFCC recovers N32.7bn, $445,000 from Humanitarian Ministry amid corruption probe

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..Uncovers extensive fraud in COVID-19 funds, W’Bank loan, Abacha loot allocations

…Vows crackdown on Naira abuse, reveals several celebrities are under investigation

By Sodiq Adelakun

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has made significant strides in its investigation into alleged corruption within the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.

According to a statement released by the EFCC’s Head of Media & Publicity, Mr. Dele Oyewale, the Commission has recovered a staggering sum of N32.7 billion along with $445,000 from the ministry.

This revelation comes amidst a flurry of commentaries, opinions, and assumptions surrounding the ongoing probe.

The EFCC emphasised the importance of setting the record straight, as misinformation and speculation have been rampant.

According to the statement, “EFCC has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry Of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the ministry were invited by the commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far,” Oyewale said.

…EFCC uncovers extensive fraud in COVID-19 funds, Abacha loot allocations

The EFCC revealed that its discreet investigations have uncovered additional fraudulent activities related to COVID-19 funds, the World Bank loan, and allocations from the Abacha recovered loot designated for poverty alleviation initiatives within the ministry.

These investigations have also established links between the alleged financial malfeasance and several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry.

The EFCC also said the investigation did not focus on individuals but on the ministry as a whole.

“It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.

“Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary,” the statement added.

On the issue of the works of the commission against Naira abuse, dollarisation of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC said it appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far.

“Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life. These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo,” Oyewale said.

He stressed that the commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira, saying old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024.

“However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

…EFCC vows crackdown on Naira abuse, reveals several celebrities are under investigation

At the moment, “the commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter,” the Commission said.

The EFCC has also committed to maintaining its unwavering stance of holding all accountable, without exceptions. It warns the public to remain vigilant against violating laws related to this crime.

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Junior Pope: NSIB commences investigation into boat accident

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The Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has commenced an investigation into the devastating boat accident that claimed the life of actor, Junior Pope.

Junior Pope was found dead following an accident last week on the Anam River in Anambra State while shooting.

Among the victims were Abigail Frederick, Precious Oforum, and Joseph Anointing.

In an official statement released on Sunday, NSIB’s Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, Bimbo Oladeji, confirmed the initiation of the investigation.

The objective of this inquiry is to uncover the circumstances surrounding the accident, pinpoint any contributing factors, and propose preventative measures to avert similar tragedies in the future.

The accident occurred when a speedboat, transporting twelve film crew members and a boat operator, tragically collided with a canoe on the Anam River.

In the statement, NSIB Director General, Captain Alex Badeh, said an investigation team has been dispatched to the accident site, and an inquiry has begun.

He said, “The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to, examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation.”

The NSIB, according to its DG, will collaborate with the Anambra State Police Command’s Marine Police section, maritime authorities, and industry experts to investigate the recent boat accident on the Anam River.

The investigation will produce both preliminary and final reports, aiming to provide recommendations for preventing similar accidents in the future.

The DG said, “The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident.”

“We share in your grief and are fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrences in the future,” he said.

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