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CBN links #EndSARS campaigners to terrorism

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The Central Bank of Nigeria got a Federal High Court in Abuja to freeze the accounts of 20 #EndSARS campaigners after saying money in their accounts could be linked to terrorist activities.

This is contained in a written address in support of a motion ex parte filed by the CBN.

The CBN last month secured an ex parte order to freeze the accounts.

In the case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1384/2020, filed before Justice A. R. Mohammed, the CBN, however, made no mention of the fact that the 20 accounts were owned by persons involved in the #EndSARS protests, but told the court that the funds might have emanated from terrorist activities.

The written address read in part, “My lord, the nature of the transactions undertaken through the defendants’ accounts are of suspected terrorism financing in contravention of Section 13(1)(a)and(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention)(Amendment) Act, 2013 and Regulation 31(2)(a)and (3)(b) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Regulations, 2013.”

In a supporting affidavit deposed to by one Aondowase Jacob on behalf of the CBN, it was stated that the Head of the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Governor’s Department, CBN, Joseph Omayuku, had conducted an investigation on the accounts of the defendants and other individuals and entities held with certain banks in Nigeria.

According to the affidavit, the investigation showed that the owners of the accounts may have been involved in terrorist activities.

It added, “There is a grave allegation that the defendants are involved in suspected terrorism financing via their bank accounts in contravention of the provisions of extant laws and regulations. The aforesaid transactions undertaken by the defendants, using their bank accounts, can cause significant economic and security harm to the public and the Federal Republic of Nigeria if left unchecked.

“The applicant (CBN governor) is thus desirous to have the court empower him to direct the freezing of the 20 accounts listed on the annexure to this application and all other bank accounts held by the defendants.

“A freezing order of this honourable court in respect of the defendants’ accounts would also enable the investigation of the activities of the defendants to a logical conclusion with a view to reporting same to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.”

The apex bank said unless the order was granted, it would not be able to ensure that the money remained intact, while investigations were ongoing.

The 20 accounts frozen by the CBN are domiciled in Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa and Zenith Bank.

The accounts were said to have been flagged after they received money with the narration #EndSARS.

One of the frozen accounts, marked 0056412470 and domiciled in Access Bank, belongs to Bolatito Olorunrinu Oduala, an #EndSARS campaigner, who was appointed into the Lagos State judicial panel set up by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Another frozen account marked 0033974485 and domiciled in Access Bank belongs to Bassey Israel, the medical team coordinator for the #EndSARS protests in Port Harcourt.

Similarly, an account marked 0054676984 domiciled in Access Bank belongs to Gatefield Nigeria Limited, which paid freelance journalists to cover the protests.

Justice Mohammed froze the accounts for 180 days subject to renewal, but said anyone who was not satisfied with the ruling was free to challenge it.

Freezing protesters’ accounts illegal – Yesufu

A leading member of the #EndSARS protesters, Aisha Yesufu, described the freezing of the #EndSARS protesters’ accounts as illegal, noting that the government “is behaving like a terrorist.”

She questioned the freezing of the accounts ahead of the court injunction ordering the banks to block the accounts.

Yesufu stated, “The question is, why did they freeze the accounts before obtaining a court injunction? Why the illegality? Our judiciary should know that it is an independent arm of government and there is separation of power.

“The government should be ashamed of itself. The United Arab Emirates just convicted some Nigerians, who were accused of terrorism, and we are hearing that the government would appeal on their behalf. That is where the problem is.”

The activist accused the Federal Government of pampering insurgents, while bearing down on peaceful and harmless protesters.

She added, “#EndSARS campaigners are protesters and they protested the way the Constitution allows, so all these are shenanigans. They had better focus on the terrorists.

“Bandits are laying down their arms and they are taking them to Government Houses, while Boko Haram members are being given preferential treatment, but Nigerians, who were protesting, were being killed by the government. The government is the one behaving like a terrorist right now.”

-The Punch

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As cooking gas price rises further, kerosene, diesel drop

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As prices of cooking gas otherwise known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) across Nigeria continue to rise despite significant increase in local production of the product, the average pump price of National Household Kerosene (NHK) has dropped to N400.01 per litre, representing a 7.9 per cent decline compared to N434.39 per litre in September this year.

Prices of Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) also fell by 0.16 per cent this week to N254.21 from N254.64 as of September ending 2021.

According to the latest report on the LPG by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the product supplied in September 2021 increased to 49,453.081 metric tonnes, MT, shows an increase of 23 per cent when compared to 38,040.457MT recorded in August 2021.

A survey by newstrends shows that 12.5 kilogramme of cooking gas, which was sold at N4,000 in January 2021, rose to N7,200 in August 2021 and currently N7,700.

On kerosene, latest data from globalpetrolprices.com indicated that as of this week, the price per gallon of kerosene stood at N1,514.20 while price per gallon of  diesel stood at N962.29.

When compared to statistics from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) the kerosene and diesel watch for September, prices paid per gallon of the NKH fell by 1.73 per cent.

The NBS September report, “Average price per liter paid by consumers for National Household Kerosene increased by 8.6 per cent month-on-month and by 24.8 per cent year-on-year (YoY)  to N434.39 in September 2021 from N400.01 in August 2021.

“Similarly, average price per gallon paid by consumers for National Household Kerosene increased by 16.25 per cent MoM and by 25.3 YoY to N1, 540.82 in September 2021 from N1, 325.39 in August 2021.

“States with the highest average price per gallon of kerosene were Abuja (N2, 766.67), Bauchi (N1, 981.54) and Adamawa (N1,975.00).

“States with the lowest average price per gallon of kerosene were Delta (N1218.13), Imo (N1991.23) and Yobe (N1,080.00).”

On diesel, the NBS said, “Average price paid by consumers for Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) increased by 0.17 per cent MoM and by 15.9 per cent YoY   to N254.64 in September 2021 from N254.21 in August 2021.”

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eNaira will facilitate direct payments to citizens by govt – CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has said its new project, eNaira, can serve as a medium for the government to send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programmes.

The apex bank stated this in a document titled, ‘Design Paper for the eNaira’, which spells out some of the details of the new initiative.

This capacity for the eNaira to provide seamless process for government to send direct payments to citizens would be an added advantage in the adoption of the eNaira in Nigeria, it stated.

According to the apex bank, the eNaira will make it possible for government to make targeted welfare payments to citizens directly, without the need for any intermediary.

The CBN noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed a significant challenge to the payment system globally particularly regarding welfare distribution.

It stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic tested the effectiveness of payment systems globally and highlighted gaps especially in the distribution mechanism of welfare incentives. In some instances, cash was distributed due to lack of visibility and adaptability of existing payment infrastructure to new and emerging modes of value transfer.”

According to the CBN, the eNaira as a means by which the challenge of government’s monetary distribution to citizens can be effectively and efficiently addressed to ensure accountability is achieved.

“The eNaira provides a clear means for the government to send direct payments to citizens eligible for specific welfare programs more rapidly than through other means. This ensures that accountability is achieved, and the right persons get the funds. When a need arises, such as in times of economic crises, the central bank can also serve as a government agent and execute eNaira transfers to individuals and businesses affected,” the bank stated in the document.

It also said, “The eNaira will make it possible for governments to make targeted welfare payments to citizens directly, without the need for any intermediary. This will reduce the cost of delivering welfare benefits to citizens in need of welfare support and ensure the right people are receiving support.”

The CBN had stated earlier that the eNaira would create a secure and cost-effective process for remittance inflow to the country, amongst other benefits.

It also stated that eNaira’s usability would definitely improve as Nigerians without internet-enabled phones would be able to transact without having to subscribe to data or having an internet-enabled phone.

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Haulage cost drops as NRC resumes cargo movement to Kano, Kaduna dry ports

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation has resumed the movement of cargoes in containers from Lagos to Kano and Kaduna dry ports, more than a year after it suspended the operations.

Managing Director of Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL), Ismail Yusuf, who stated stated this during an interview with journalists in Lagos, added that the cost of haulage had thus dropped by 50 per cent compared to what the road transporters charge.

In September 2020, the NRC suspended the movement of containers by rail from Apapa port for rehabilitation of the rail tracks.

Yusuf said about 40 containers had been moved so far, adding that 40 empty containers had been returned through the same mode to Lagos from the Kano and Kaduna inland dry ports.

Apart from cost reduction, he said the movement by rail would  save time and ensure the safety of the consignments being moved by rail.

According to him, it will now cost a half of what is presently being spent on road haulage to move containers by rail.

According to him, the ICNL is still in talks with the NRC to deploy additional coaches to the port operation because his company has cargoes on the ground to be moved.

“As you know that the Federal Government is encouraging the Nigerian Railway Corporation to ensure movement of cargo from the seaport to the hinterland and this is very critical to our Kano-bonded terminal and Kaduna Inland Dry Port, which is our subsidiary company,” Yusuf said.

He also said, “The management of ICNL and Kaduna Dry Port has led the management of the railway corporation to discuss the modalities of how they can come back to life. We thank God that our request has been acceded to and this is the outcome of our discussion.

“Presently, they have supplied us with two rails for the last two weeks. We have moved about 40 containers, and this will continue every fortnight until we attain maximum capacity.

“The number of containers being moved also depends on the availability of locomotives, and as long as we have enough cargos to load.

“We have started from somewhere: from one to two rails and from there we can increase it to four or five rails.

“We are talking with NRC on how we can increase the capacity to meet the yearnings of customers who want to use the services of the rail corporation. Time spent on the movement is a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 72 hours.”

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