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SERAP sues Tinubu over ‘failure to probe missing $2.1bn, N3.1trn of subsidy payments’

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My unforgettable experience as cab driver in U.S - Tinubu reveals

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has sued President Bola Tinubu, over “the failure to probe the allegations that USD$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds of oil revenues and budgeted as fuel subsidy payments are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.”

SERAP filed a lawsuit against Tinubu at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking an order of mandamus to promptly investigate allegations that USD$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion in public funds are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.

Additionally, they are seeking an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to direct anti-corruption agencies to promptly investigate fuel subsidy payments made by governments since 1999, name and shame and prosecute suspected perpetrators and recover any proceeds of crimes.

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of the subsidy removal on poor Nigerians, and to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”

In the suit, SERAP argues that: “The allegations that US$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion of public funds are missing and unaccounted amount to a fundamental breach of national anticorruption laws and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

SERAP also stated that “The Tinubu government has constitutional and international legal obligations to get to the bottom of these allegations and ensure accountability for these serious crimes against the Nigerian people.”

READ ALSO  NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

According to them, “Directing and compelling President Tinubu to promptly probe, name and shame and bring to justice the perpetrators and to recover any missing public funds would advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation, and guarantee of non-repetition.”

SERAP further noted that “Allegations of corruption in fuel subsidy payments suggest that the poor have rarely benefited from the use and management of the payments.”

According to the lawsuit filed by SERAP’s lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Ms Adelanke Aremo, Ms Valentina Adegoke, and Ayomide Johnson, there can be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for human rights crimes. Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to pay for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.

“Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any missing public funds would serve the public interest, ensure justice and accountability, and end the entrenched impunity of perpetrators.”

“According to the audited reports between 2016 and 2019 by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit N663,896,567,227.58 into the Federation Account. The Auditor-General fears that the money may be missing.”

“The NNPC also reportedly failed to account for the allocation of crude oil to refineries in 2019. 107,239,436.00 barrels of crude oil were lifted as domestic crude without any document. The Auditor-General fears that the crude valued at N55,891,009,960.63 may have been diverted.”

“The NNPC in 2019 also failed to remit N1,955,354,671,268.66 and N55,157,702,848.74 of generated revenues into the Federation Account, contrary to Section 162(1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]. The Auditor-General fears that the money may have been diverted.”“The NNPC also failed to account for N4,572,844,962.25 of ‘domestic gas receipts’, thereby ‘reducing the distributable revenue in the Federation account.’

READ ALSO  AfDB invests $10.9bn in Nigeria — DG

The NNPC also in 2019 failed to account for 22,929.84 litres of PMS pumped from refineries and valued at N7,056,137,180.00.”

“The NNPC also ‘illegally classified’ 239,800 barrels of crude oil valued at N5,498,045,220 as ‘crude oil losses.’”

“The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in 2019 also reportedly failed to remit US$1,278,364,595.49 in revenue to the Federation Account. The money was deducted by the NNPC from the Oil and Gas Royalty assessed by the DPR.”

“The DPR in 2019 also deducted N19,840,081.29 as ‘stamp duty’ payments from contractors and consultants but the DPR instantly paid back the money to the contractors and consultants instead of remitting it to the treasury.”

“The DPR in 2019 also paid N137,225,973.35 to contractors and consultants for various contracts and consultancies but failed to deduct stamp duty.

“The DPR also paid N11,856,088,271.92 as salaries for 2019 but failed to deduct N118,560,882.72 as the contribution of 1% Industrial Training Fund (ITF). The DPR in 2019 also failed to transfer US$35,738,342.95 year balance.

“The DPR in 2018 also withdrew without any explanation US$759,387,755.10 from DPR Signature Bonus Account rather than paid the money into the Federation Account.”

“Subsidy records show that N443,940,559,974.80 was paid as total subsidy for 2016 but the money was not budgeted for. The payments were for outstanding Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) commitments for the year 2015. However, there was no payment in 2016. Only outstanding payments for previous years 2014 and 2015 and interest payments were made in 2016.”

“The Auditor-General fears that the oil marketers that received the subsidy payments may not have been ‘eligible to draw from the Petroleum Support Fund as the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Authority (PPPRA) failed to provide any document on the payments.’”

READ ALSO  ‘Dangote has broken every boundary in business, let’s support him’ – Femi Otedola

“N39,141,210,181.74 was also paid from the Federation Account in 2016 to different Oil Marketers in 26 transactions, being Payments of Interest and Foreign Exchange Differential on Subsidy but without any document.”

“The NNPC also made ‘zero profit’ and recorded ‘losses from its joint ventures in 2016. This is contrary to expectations that profits should be made from the joint ventures.’”

“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Abuja in 2016 paid N14,490,000.00 for the supply of 3 Nissan Almera Saloon vehicles 1.5 to the Ministry without proper documentation. The purchase of ‘the vehicles were made through direct procurement without competitive bidding by at least three companies, as required by Financial Regulations. There was no advertisement and bidding for this contract.’”

“Although ‘N12,442,500.00 was approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement for the vehicles, the Ministry made an overpayment of N2,047,500.00 to the car company.’”

Business

NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

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NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

Immediate-Past Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello Koko has said the agency generated N541 billion in the first half of the year.

He said the agency also remitted N255 billion to the Consolidated Revenue Funds (CRF) within the first six months.

Koko said the performance of the agency in the first half of the year surpassed its year-on-year total revenue generation and remittances in any year, putting the cumulative revenue of the NPA between 2022 and the first half of 2024 at N1.423 trillion

According to him, his administration put in place sustainable reforms, especially a drastic improvement in the Turn-Around-Times of vessels and trucks in Apapa and TinCan ports.

He, however, said he is handing over a new staff clinic and five other completed projects to his successor for inauguration.

He confirmed that the NPA raised staff salary during his tenure, even as he pleaded with them (members of staff) to cooperate with and redouble their commitment to his successor.

The outgoing NPA MD, who dropped the hints in his valedictory remarks at the handover to his successor Dr. Abubakar Dantsoho at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos, said he felt fulfilled for improving NPA better than he met it.

He said: “We recorded an unprecedented growth in revenue generation and remittances to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) from Revenue of N381 billion in 2022 and N501 billion in 2023 to N541 billion in the first half of 2024 and remittances to CRF increasing from N93.4 billion in 2022 to N206 billion in 2023 and to N255 billion in the first half of 2024 – surpassing our year-on-year total revenue generation and remittances in any year.

“With unprecedented tax remittances to the Federal Government ranging up to N60 billion in the period of my stewardship, we raised the bar higher.

READ ALSO  NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

“Our hope and prayers are for the new management to continue on this trajectory and surpass it. But we were also deliberate on dialogue and driving reforms.”

He listed some of his achievements in office to including all-round port efficiency.

Koko said: “We hit the ground running with the necessary approvals to get the Lekki Deep Seaport fully operational to retake the lost transit and transshipment cargo.

“Promoted the non-oil export drive of the President by setting up ten (10) Export Processing Terminals (EPTs), mainstreaming it to the NXP and e-call up system to facilitate exports, and the result is evident in the attainment of a foreign trade surplus, as highlighted in the NBS report for Q1 2024.

“Upgraded data center, servers, storage, and business continuity; established a data recovery and protection unit with an up-to-date data protection audit certification.

“Digitised staff attendance for accountability and improved productivity; ensured the sustainability and free flow of cargo by clearing the decade-long traffic gridlock menacing the Apapa and Tincan Island port complexes, and its environs.

“Provided aids to navigation such as buoys, fenders, and bollards across all the ports, and also enhanced seaside operations by providing marine crafts, pilot cutters, tugboats, mooring boats, etc to improve port efficiency.

“These led to a reduction in both vessel and truck turn-around times. The vessel TAT went down from an average of 6.5 days to an average of 5 days, while truck TAT went from an average of 10 days to a few hours.”

Koko also said he was happy to have attained 100 per cent Ease-of-Doing-Business rating by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

He said: “We also restored service boat management contract with attendant boost in revenue;

“Concluded the consultancy for the deployment of a Vessel Tracking System in conjunction with NLNG Shipping;

“Secured FEC approval for the expansion of the Snake Island Port and a willing private investment to the tune of $300m on this project;

READ ALSO  AfDB invests $10.9bn in Nigeria — DG

“Secured FEC approvals for the development of new ports such as ports of Ondo, Badagry, Burutu, and Snake Island expansion project, amongst other proposals that have reached advanced stages of review and approval;

“Consultancy for the development of the 25-Year National Ports Masterplan to guide investment and port expansion plans;

“Attained a 100% ease-of-doing-business rating by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), despite having the most number of reforms;

“In addition to the aforementioned, we were also able to conclude with the FMMBE/BPP on the deployment of the Port Community System (awaiting a few processes before seeking FEC approval), and its corollary, the National Single Window, as well as propel the subject matter of port modernization to conclusive stages with the signing of the mandate letters for the reconstruction of TinCan Island and the comprehensive rehabilitation of Apapa, Rivers, Onne, Warri, and Calabar Port complexes, respectively.”

On the six projects being handed over to his successor for inauguration, Koko said: “We have also completed some key projects that are ready for commissioning. These projects are crucial to staff development and improved efficiency.

“Some of them include; the Staff Clinic at Lagos Port Complex; inter-agency building at TinCan Island Port to accommodate agencies in the port in one place to enhance operational efficiency; security mobile scanners at the Lagos Port Complex; administrative buildings of the Tincan, Warri, and Rivers Ports; Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria’s Headquarters; upgraded Revenue Invoicing Management System (RIMS 2.0); and employees e-medical records management”.

“Let me begin by appreciating all of you for the life-applicable experience of the last eight years of my sojourn in the NPA.

“Looking back, I would like to summarize this tremendous phase of my life as a learning curve and an abiding history or experience.

“As I bow out today, I feel fulfilled for two reasons. Firstly, by working with all of you here, we have repositioned the authority for greater operational efficiency and unprecedented revenue generation and remittance to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

READ ALSO  ‘Dangote has broken every boundary in business, let’s support him’ – Femi Otedola

“Secondly, my sense of fulfillment derives from the fact that we have achieved a lot and have made the Authority far better than we met it, and now handing over to a management team of distinguished professionals with the requisite character, competence, and capacity to sustain and indeed surpass the current performance trajectory.

“As many of us are aware, the Authority under the management team I was privileged to lead was able to position the Authority for improved efficiency, revenue generation, accountability, and adherence to international best practices in port management and operations.”

He thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former President Muhammadu Buhari for “the incredible opportunity to serve as the MD of the NPA”.

Unveiling his plans for port rehabilitation and modernization, Dantsoho said that priority will be given to total automation of NPA processes and adequate staff welfare.

He said: “We will continue the digital transformation of the Authority and reinforce the current efforts at deploying the Port Community System (PCS) which we believe is key to our dream of total automation of our processes, thereby eliminating leakages and corruption.

“The current efforts towards infrastructural renewal and development will be enhanced. In particular, we will drive: Port Rehabilitation and Modernization

“We will pay attention to the logistics that surround the arrival of cargoes along the port corridor, their receipt at the terminals and loading onboard ships in the most efficient way and also cargo evacuation from our ports.

He listed other targets as follows:

* Deep sea Ports Development, in order to unlock the full potential of the economy;

* Promotion of transparency, accountability and Ease of doing business in our ports;

*We shall enhance collaboration and communication between sister agencies and promote stakeholder engagement.”

Source: The Nation

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Economy

Renewable energy: FG partners China on local production

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The Federal Government said it is set to localise the production of renewable technologies through partnership with China-based Sinoma International Engineering Company.

This formed the crux of discussions between Nigeria’s Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Action, Ajuri Ngelale, and the Executive Management of Sinoma International Engineering Company at its Beijing headquarters on Tuesday.

In a brief made available to State House correspondents on Tuesday, Ngelale said the discussions harped on the importance of localised production to reduce reliance on imports and promote economic growth.

The meeting, attended by Sinoma’s Board Chairman, Mr. Yin Zhisong, and President, Mr. Zhu Bing, covered various areas of mutual interest, including decarbonisation of mining practices, ecological support and restoration.

Ngelale hailed Sinoma’s expertise in decarbonisation of mining practices, ecological support, and restoration, as well as automation of manufacturing processes for carbon capture, utilization, and storage, wind blades, and other technologies.

The brief read, “On Tuesday, I held substantive discussions with the Executive Management of Sinoma International Engineering Company at their Beijing headquarters in the presence of the Board Chairman, Mr. Yin Zhisong, and the Company’s President, Mr. Zhu Bing.

“We covered a wide range of important areas of mutual interest, going into significant depth on each of the agenda items. The expertise Sinoma has developed in the decarbonization of mining practices with full ecological support and restoration, as well as the cross-cutting automation of several manufacturing processes for CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage), wind blades, and other very important technologies — the production of which Nigeria is now moving swiftly to localize (assembly to end-to-end) — is awe-inspiring and a testament to what innovative, dogged and determined leadership can yield.

READ ALSO  NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

“A very productive and consequential engagement today with more to follow in the days ahead.”

Ngelale said Tuesday’s talks will boost Nigeria’s renewable energy sector, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with the country’s climate action goals

Source: The Punch

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Economy

Reps okay 70% gains from forex transactions by banks

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Bill to create new state in south-east passes second reading at house of reps

The House passed the Finance Act, 2024 which seeks to impose a 70 per cent levy on the profits realized by banks from all foreign exchange transactions.

The Executive bill was adopted by members at the Committee of Supply chaired by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas.

According to report presented by Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. James Faleke, the Executive provides for the imposition of windfall tax, assessment and review of profits declarations; and for deferred payment agreements for financial institutions by Federal Inland Revenue Service.

He explained that the Committee interacted with some Stakeholders including: Federal Ministry of Finance and Coordinating Economy, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Bankers Committee.

“The Joint Committee observed that the Banks enjoyed windfall as a result of Exchange rate unification policy of the Federal Government;

“That the windfall was as a result of FX allocation to selected commercial Banks.

“That the policy does not permit the use of the windfall for dividend payment.”

In its recommendations, the joint Senate and House Committee proposed that the application of the provision of section 30 of the Principal Act shall take effect from 1st January 2023.

“That levy shall be 70 percent on the realized profit from all exchange transactions of Banks.

“Any bank that fails to pay the windfall profit levy to the Service and has not executed a deferred payment agreement by 31st December, 2024, shall be liable to pay the windfall profit levy withheld or not remitted in addition to a fine of 10% of the levy withheld or not remitted per annum and interest at the prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) minimum rediscount rate.

READ ALSO  NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

Source: Tribune

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Business

‘Dangote has broken every boundary in business, let’s support him’ – Femi Otedola

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Billionaire businessman and chairman of Geregu Power PLC and FBN Holdings, Femi Otedola has expressed strong support for the chairman of Dangote Industries Limited, Aliko Dangote, and his refinery project.

Recall that a heated dispute between Africa’s richest man and Nigeria’s oil sector regulators has set many tongues wagging.

As the conflict heightened, Dangote offered to sell his oil refinery to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited on July 22.

Reacting on Tuesday, July 23, Otedola on his verified X handle (formerly Twitter) emphasised that Dangote is the largest private sector employer of labour in the country, and his companies are among the largest taxpayers.

He tweeted: “My brother, the visionary, has built the largest single train refinery in the world, not in Kano, but in Lagos State. He is the owner of the second-largest sugar refinery in the world, also in Lagos State, and the largest cement factory in the world, not in Kano, but in Kogi State. Additionally, he has established one of the second-largest fertilizer plants in the world, soon to surpass the biggest one in Qatar, also in Lagos State. Furthermore, he has built a fertilizer plant in Lagos that already exports globally. Aliko Dangote is a titan that God created especially for mankind.

“Aliko Dangote is also the largest private sector employer of labour in the country, and his companies are among the largest taxpayers. In fact, the Dangote Group often pays more in taxes than the top banks combined. If not for him, we would still be importing cement. His contributions extend beyond industrial facilities to critical infrastructure, having built major roads such as the Apapa Oshodi-Owonrosoki Express Road, Wharf Road, and the Obajana-Kabba Road.

READ ALSO  NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

“Countries in the nascent stages of industrialization require visionary leaders. This is why it’s no surprise that the United States was built by the vision and tenacity of a few remarkable individuals—Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford—THE MEN WHO BUILT America’s industrial landscape. These men left the world without these assets but left behind a legacy that has kept their country thriving generation after generation. Their contributions were immortalized not in the material wealth they amassed but in the enduring institutions and industries they established. These visionaries were also supported by their government, which recognized the importance of fostering local champions.

“Similarly, today’s tech giants like Microsoft and Tesla received substantial support from the US government. For example, in January 2010, the Department of Energy issued a $465 million loan to Tesla Motors to produce specially designed, all-electric plug-in vehicles and to develop a manufacturing facility in Fremont, California to produce battery packs, electric motors, and other powertrain components for powering these innovative vehicles. This initiative is part of broader efforts, such as the federal EV-charging program supported by the infrastructure law known as the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure programme, or NEVI.

“In India, the government has been instrumental in supporting business titans like Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani. Their companies have received significant backing to grow and expand, contributing substantially to India’s economic growth and global business footprint.

“There are also records of emerging market countries like Vietnam, South Africa, Brazil, and China where their governments have supported local businesses to jump-start industrialization. In Vietnam, the government has provided various incentives to tech companies, fostering a rapidly growing technology sector. In South Africa, government support for the mining industry has been crucial in maintaining its global competitiveness.

READ ALSO  AfDB invests $10.9bn in Nigeria — DG

“Brazil has seen substantial government investment in its agricultural sector, transforming it into one of the world’s leading food exporters. In China, government backing for companies like Huawei and Alibaba has propelled them to global leadership in technology and e-commerce.

“In Nigeria, we have our own titans, and it is imperative that we recognize and support them. Aliko Dangote has broken every boundary in worldwide business and industry. His contributions are not just a testament to his brilliance but a beacon of what is possible when vision meets opportunity.

“Supporting local champions like Dangote is crucial for our national development and economic independence. Let us continue to foster and support these visionaries who drive our nation’s progress…

Source: The Nation

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Business

AfDB invests $10.9bn in Nigeria — DG

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AFDB’s investments in Nigeria hit $4.4bn, says DG

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has invested a total of $10.9 billion in Nigeria, with a current portfolio of $4.9 billion supporting projects in the public and private sectors.

According to Lamin Barrow, Director-General of the West Africa Region, AfDB, the bank’s cumulative financing approvals in Nigeria have reached $10.9 billion since it started operations in the country.

Barrow made this disclosure at the Second Interactive Session and Workshop on Developing Bankable Business Proposals/Business Plans for Youths in Agriculture, held in Abuja on Monday.

The event was part of the activities to celebrate the bank’s 60th anniversary with stakeholders.

Barrow noted that Nigeria is the AfDB’s largest shareholder, and the bank’s cooperation with the country has expanded over the years.

The AfDB’s investment in Nigeria spans various sectors, including energy and power, transport, water, and sanitation infrastructure.

“Over the last 60 years, the Bank has grown into a trusted partner and the continent’s premier development financial institution.

“Our cooperation with Nigeria has expanded over the years, especially considering that Nigeria is the largest shareholder.

“Since it started operations in the country, cumulative financing approvals has reached 10.9 billion dollars and our portfolio currently stands at 4.9 billion dollars supporting projects in the public and private sectors,” he said.

Barrow said the AfDB’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, upon assumption of office eight years ago, prioritised the High 5–of Power, Feed, Industrialise, Integrate and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

READ ALSO  NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

He said these were the accelerators for achieving the SDGs and the targets in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

According to him, the projects and programmes supported during this period have impacted over 400 million people.

Source: Tribune

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Banking

Mercury Bank set date to close all accounts associated with Nigeria 

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Mercury Bank has announced the addition of Nigeria to a list of countries prohibited from its banking services.

This decision aligns Nigeria with other countries on the ban list, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine Liberia, Syria and 30 others.

Mercury Bank is a prominent America-based financial institution known for its tech-driven banking solutions.

Checks on the company’s website also confirmed that Nigeria is on the list of prohibited countries.

The company said it supports U.S. companies founded by people across the globe, as well as founders and venture capital firms.

However, the bank said it currently cannot open accounts for founders living in prohibited countries and regions.

The prohibition means businesses and individuals living in Nigeria can no longer open new accounts or conduct transactions through the bank.

This move is expected to impact a substantial number of Nigerian entrepreneurs and startups that have relied on the bank’s services for their financial operations.

Explaining the importance of Mercury Bank to Nigerian founders, Seye Bandele, CEO of PaidHR, a Nigeria-based HRTech startup, said the bank simplifies the process for startups in Nigeria to conduct business in the U.S.

“Mercury provides banking services for Delaware C companies, which is usually a requirement for the kind of investment that most founders raise money on,” he said.

“So Mercury provided those banking services whether you’ve been to the US or not, from the US or not, we use something called a registered agent to register your company in the US, and then that registered agent will give you a physical address that the bank use to create your bank account.”

READ ALSO  NPA rakes in N541b revenue, remits N255b in first half of 2024, says outgoing MD

‘MERCURY HAS BEEN A SUBJECT OF REGULATORY CHECKS’

Bandele said although Nigerians are caught in the middle of the policy, Mercury has also been subject to numerous regulatory and compliance checks by their authorities.

“So whatever the reasons for their policy, I understand is just how Nigerians are caught on the wrong side of it,” he said.

John Opeyemi, one of the bank’s customers, expressed his displeasure on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday.

Opeyemi said the bank had requested some documents a few weeks ago, which he promptly provided.

He said he was surprised to receive a notice of his account closure shortly after.

“We regret to inform you that, due to recent changes in how we determine account eligibility, we are no longer able to support accounts for businesses with associated addresses located in these countries,” Mercury’s message to Opeyemi reads.

“Please know that his decision was not made lightly. We apologize for the disruption this may cause, and our team is here to help you work through the account closure over the next few weeks.”

The bank also stated that the closure would take effect on August 22, 2024.

Other customers have taken to X to share their thoughts.

 

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