The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has asked all commercial banks in the country to investigate the sources of income of their potential customers before opening an account for them.
Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this on Tuesday when the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria, led by its Chairman, Yinka Tiamiyu, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
He also told the bank auditors to take issues of transparency in banking operations seriously.
According to him, starting from September 1, 2021, it will no longer be business as usual as the commission will hold banks liable where there are established cases of institutional complicity in fraud in the sector.
He stressed the commission’s willingness to partner with the association in tackling financial crimes and related challenges in the banking sector.
Bawa said, “I will like to urge you to know your customers, know the kind of businesses they do before opening an account for them because some customers will open an account within a space of two months a huge sum of money is found in the account, So there is need for you to try and query these information including their linked accounts.”
Tiamiyu said they were at the commission to seek improved partnership between banks and the EFCC in tacking economic and financial crime.
He affirmed the commitment of banks as lead actors in the nation’s financial system to sanitising the system, noting that it was not in the interest of the organizations to incubate or suppress financial malfeasance.
Vice Chairman of the Association, Uduak Udoh, said, “Some customers are conniving with bank staff to loot funds. We want you to look into that area, not only the banks as we are ready to give you all the cooperation you need; we want you to trust bank auditors with information sharing because we cannot support fraudulent staff as they are a threat to the organisation.”
Contractor lays final track beam of Lagos blue rail
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The laying of the last track beam (T-beam) of a 27-kilometre Lagos Blue Rail Mass Transit commenced on Wednesday with a promise to deliver the landmark project in December this year as scheduled.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu flagged off the engineering procedure at the site of the Marina station of the rail project.
A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, said, “with the laying of the final T-Beam, all difficult civil works standing in the way of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, which started in 2012, have been overcome.
“The contractor – China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) – will now go ahead to set the rail tracks along the alignment and move the project to completion.”
It said Governor Sanwo-Olu got the commitment of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and the contractor to the December deadline for the Blue Line project’s completion.
Lagos Government will be delivering two rail mass transit projects within the first term of the Sanwo-Olu administration. The Blue Line traversing between Mile 2 and Marina will be operated on Electric Motor Unit (EMU); while the 37-kilometre Red Line, from Agbado to Ebute Metta, will operate on Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).
Speaking at the launch of the last T-Beam on the Blue Line, Sanwo-Olu said the achievement signposted his administration’s commitment to bringing succour to Lagosians and give them choices in mass transportation.
The governor said the rail projects represented the audacity of his administration’s vision to deliver a robust integrated transit system as encapsulated in the Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of his government’s T.H.E.M.E.S. development agenda.
He said, “Today’s final T-beam launch indicates that we are gradually inching to the completion of the civil infrastructure for the first phase of the Blue Line traversing from Mile 2 to Marina. The engineering work today completes a total of 1,967 piles foundation, while we have also completed three 306 platforms, 310 piers, 267 cover beams and erection of 984 T-beams.
“We are not just making promises; people are beginning to see for themselves that all the milestones and the difficult tasks we are meant to achieve to ensure operation of the Blue Line are being achieved. The Marina Station, which is the iconic terminal for the Blue Line, will be completed within two-and-half months. I am restating here that we will formally complete this Blue Line before December 31, 2022.”
The governor said the two sets of EMU coaches already procured for the Blue Line operations would arrive in Lagos from China before the end of October. He said the rail line would be test run immediately after completion, while passenger movement would start within the first quarter of 2023.
Sanwo-Olu said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line project would commence after the start of operation, which would extend the rail project from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.
He said Blue Line stations would be built at Festac, Alakija, Trade Fair, Volkswagen, LASU and Okokomaiko.
The governor disclosed that talks were being held with the Ogun State Government for possible extension of the rail line to Agbara.
He said, “The second phase of the Blue Line project will be an easy infrastructure to develop because the marked alignment for stations and tracks are largely at grid level. While we are at this, the Red Line is also on the way. This is a start-and-end project for our administration, with about seven stations concurrently being built. This will redefine mass transportation in Lagos.
“To our citizens, I say the Blue Line is for real and you will ride on it in no distant future. For the Doubting Thomases and people that do not like our face, their eyes cannot disbelieve in the infrastructure we are bequeathing to the citizens of our State. They cannot disbelieve in our bold effort and commitment to improve mobility and deliver transport infrastructure that brings ease to our people.”
LAMATA Managing Director, Abimbola Akinajo, an engineer, said the first 13-kilometre stretch of the Blue Line construction was divided into four phases to enable the government to fund the project from its internally generated revenue.
To get to the current status, she said the construction work experienced disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, submarine natural gas pipelines, and removal of underground shipwrecks.
“Just as we are laying the final T-beam for the rail tracks, we are also currently retrofitting the train stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu and National Theatre with light in readiness for passenger operation in the first quarter of 2023,” Akinajo said.
CCECC Chairman, Mr Liu Wei Min, described the event as the most significant level of the project.
He said, “We express our sincere gratitude to the present administration under the leadership of Mr Sanwo-Olu in reaching this milestone.
“We will continue to work to meet the ultimate target in delivering the entire project with high standards and quality.”
The T-beam laying event was also attended by Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Mr Chu Mao ming.
FG moves to stop foreigners from buying food commodities at farm gates
The Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Mr. Adeniyi Adebayo, on Tuesday inaugurated an Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee to oversee the implementation of a memo on the “Promotion of Agri-Business in Nigeria through Right Farm Gate Pricing and Ban on Foreigners from Purchasing Agricultural Commodities at the Farm Gates.”
The memo, was earlier approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) after it was jointly presented on March 9, by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Adebayo, explained that the move was part of the government’s efforts to provide the enabling environment for the commodity sub-sector to thrive.
The minister said the memo specifically seeks to address challenges impeding the development of the agricultural commodity subsector of the economy, curtail unfair trade malpractices and exploitation of Nigerian farmers by foreigners as well as promote competitive premium pricing as the impetus for increased productivity in the commodity subsector among others.
THISDAY gathered that the practice of middle-men who usually mop up farm produce at source often contributed to rising food inflation as a result – as agricultural products are hoarded to cause artificial scarcity which would then lead to higher food prices.
Also, in the process, farmers are often short-changed by the middle-men who enticed them with quick cash at the source of harvest.
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These practices had also been attributed to some of the reasons why food prices rarely fall even after the so-called bountiful harvests.
But the latest intervention could slowdown food prices if properly implemented.
The minister, however, decried the exploitation of farmers by foreigners who come to Nigeria to mop up agricultural commodities at the farm gates and in turn offer farmers prices below market value.
Adebayo said, “This situation has indeed led to the failure of many contractual agreements between farmers and indigenous off-takers. It has also affected the production capacity of our local factories due to the fact that foreigners buy off supplies and deprive the factories of required stocks.
“The current practice of direct purchases of agricultural commodities at unfair prices by foreigners at our farm-gates poses serious dangers which include, reduction in farmers’ income, declining productivity in the agricultural sector, unemployment and insecurity.”
He added, “A number of activities have been outlined for implementation and the committee is expected to ensure that they are properly articulated and implemented for the growth and development of our economy.”
The committee would also facilitate the establishment of enforcement organs in the states and local governments, and facilitate the signing of Executive Order by Mr. President, specifying penalties and fines for violators.
It will further liaise with the state governments for the establishment of commodity aggregation centers for export in some strategic locations nationwide and, carry out periodic assessments (quarterly) on the implementation.
However, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Suleman Audu, expressed the readiness and willingness of the body to provide the required leadership and coordination to ensure the efficient implementation of its mandate.
Nigeria, India to collaborate on solar power, artificial intelligence
Indian high commissioner to Nigeria, Gangadharan Balasubramanian, says the two countries are working to boost ties in areas of fintech, artificial intelligence, scientific development and solar energy.
The new envoy made this known during the commemoration of India’s 76th Independence Day, on Monday in Abuja.
This, Balasubramanian said, would further strengthen bilateral ties between both countries.
He noted that the trade and economic relations between India and Nigeria have been very strong, with over 135 Indian companies operating in Nigeria.
The high commissioner also said the volume of trade between both countries has increased on both sides after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The trade volume between India and Nigeria was $14.95 billion in 2021. The trade volume has increased substantially after COVID-19, both ways,” Balasubramanian said.
“India is a major importer of oil from Nigeria. Nearly about $10 billion worth of oil is being imported from Nigeria.
“India also exports various issues from agricultural products, to petroleum products, to pharmaceuticals, to textiles.
“So, there is a large possibility of increasing this trade and economic cooperation between our two countries.”
Balasubramanian said since 1958, when the two countries established diplomatic ties, their relationship has remained one of the best.
“Since then, our relationship has developed in multi-various ways, almost in all places,” he added.
“Human capacity development is one of the most important areas in which we are concentrating on.
“And we are very happy that with the assistance and cooperation of successive Nigerian government, we can now say that our relationship is very strong and very cordial.”
Balasubramanian added that the two countries have established positive military cooperation, including training of military personnel.
He said his country would be happy to continue partnering with Nigeria.
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