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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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Protect the poor from galloping inflation, World Bank advises Nigerian govt, others

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… lowers Nigeria’s economic growth forecast 

The World Bank has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria and other governments in the Sub-Saharan African region to urgently implement measures to restore macro-economic stability and protect the poor from the high inflation and current slow economic growth.

The World Bank has also lowered its economic growth forecast for Nigeria in 2023 to 3.2 per cent from 3.3 per cent due to the slowdown in global growth, the war in Ukraine and declining demand from China for commodities produced in Africa.

It projected that the Sub-Saharan African region would record a lower economic growth of 3.3 per cent in 2022 as against the 4.1 per cent recorded in 2021.

The forecasts were contained in the October edition of the World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse, a biannual analysis of the near-term regional macroeconomic outlook, and economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Highlighting the growth factors for Nigeria’s economy, the World Bank said, “The Nigerian economy is projected to slow in 2023, down to 3.2 per cent (from 3.3 per cent) and persist at this level the following year. Growth will be supported mainly by the rebound in private consumption prompted mostly by accommodative monetary policy as inflationary pressures subside.

“Private consumption expenditure is forecast to decrease this year and grow next year. This performance will likely continue in 2024. On the production side, growth in 2023 will be supported by industry (with the growth of 5.1 per cent) with the mega-refinery project.”

On its growth forecast for the Sub-Saharan African region, the World Bank said: “Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is set to decelerate from 4.1% in 2021 to 3.3% in 2022, a downward revision of 0.3 percentage points since April’s Pulse forecast, mainly as a result of a slowdown in global growth, including flagging demand from China for commodities produced in Africa.

On the factors undermining economic growth in SSA, the World Bank said, “The war in Ukraine is exacerbating already high inflation and weighing on economic activity by depressing both business investments and household consumption. As of July 2022, 29 of 33 countries in SSA with available information had inflation rates over 5% while 17 countries had double-digit inflation.

“Elevated food prices are causing hardships with severe consequences in one of the world’s most food-insecure regions. Hunger has sharply increased in SSA in recent years driven by economic shocks, violence and conflict, and extreme weather. More than one in five people in Africa suffer from hunger and an estimated 140 million people faced acute food insecurity in 2022, up from 120 million people in 2021, according to the Global Report on Food Crises 2022 Mid-Year Update.

“The interconnected crises come at a time when the fiscal space required to mount effective government responses is all but gone. In many countries, public savings have been depleted by earlier programs to counter the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, though resource-rich countries in some cases have benefited from high commodity prices and managed to improve their balance sheet.”

“Debt is projected to stay elevated at 58.6% of GDP in 2022 in SSA. African governments spent 16.5% of their revenues servicing external debt in 2021, up from less than 5% in 2010. Eight out of 38 IDA-eligible countries in the region are in debt distress, and 14 are at high risk of joining them. At the same time, high commercial borrowing costs make it difficult for countries to borrow on national and international markets while tightening global financial conditions are weakening currencies and increasing African countries’ external borrowing costs.”

Stressing the need for governments to improve the efficiency of existing resources and to optimize taxes in response to the above challenges, the World Bank added that, “In the agriculture and food sector, for example, governments have the opportunity to protect human capital and climate-proof food production by re-orienting their public spending away from poorly targeted subsidies toward nutrition-sensitive social protection programmes, irrigation works, and research and development are known to have high returns.”

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FG sues Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta over adverts, demands N30bn

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta

The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has said it filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court, Abuja against Meta Platforms Incorporated (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) and its agent AT3 Resources Limited.

The country’s apex advertising governing agency revealed on Tuesday that the advertisements on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the Nigerian markets are not vetted and approved by the federal government.

ARCON then asserted that such continued unscrutinised adverts and other publications emanating from Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta-owned social media platforms are illegal, unlawful and a violation of the extant advertising Law in Nigeria, thus seeking N30 billion for punitive damages.

It revealed this in a statement titled “ARCON sues Meta platforms incorporated, seeks N30b in sanction and penalties.”

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The statement read:  “The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has instituted a suit against Meta Platforms Incorporated (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms) and its agent AT3 Resources Limited at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division.

“ARCON is seeking declaration among others that the continued publication and exposure of various advertisements directed at the Nigerian market through Facebook and Instagram platforms by Meta Platforms Incorporated without ensuring same is vetted and approved before exposure is illegal, unlawful and a violation of the extant advertising Law in Nigeria.

“ARCON stated that Meta Platforms Incorporated’s continued exposure of unvetted adverts has also led to a loss of revenue to the Federal Government.

“ARCON is seeking N30b in sanction for the violation of the advertising laws and for loss of revenue as a result of Meta Incorporated’s continued exposure of unapproved adverts on its platforms.

“ARCON reiterate that it would not permit unethical and irresponsible advertising on the Nigeria’s advertising space.

“ARCON further stated that it’s not regulating the online media space but rather advertisement, advertising and marketing communications on the online platforms in line with its establishment Act.”

Vanguard

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NNPC declares over 100% profit in one year, with N674bn for 2021

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited recorded a profit after tax (PAT) of N674 billion for the year ended 2021.
This is more than 100 per cent profit over the N287bn declared in the previous year (2020).

The Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari,  disclosed this at a briefing on Tuesday.

He said, “Today, I’m happy to announce that the Board of NNPC has approved 2021 audited financial statements & NNPC has progressed to a new performance level, from N287bn profit in 2020 to N674bn profit after tax in 2021, climbing higher by 134.8% YoY profit growth.”

The 2021 financial year made it the fourth consecutive year that the NNPC will be opening its book for public scrutiny.

In 2018, when the NNPC first made account statement public, it reported a loss of N803.9bn.

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