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Reps pass bill to prevent non-customs officers from emerging NCS CG

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill seeking to stop non-serving officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from being appointed as comptroller-general of the agency.

A report on the bill was adopted after the Chairman of the Committee on Customs and Excise, Leke Abejide, moved a motion for the consideration of its 283 clauses at the “committee of the whole” presided over by Idris Wase, deputy speaker of the house.
The proposed legislation seeks to repeal the Customs and Excise Management Act, 2004 and reenact the Nigeria Customs Service (Establishment) Bill, 2021.
Hameed Ali, the current comptroller-general of the NCS, is a retired military officer.
Since his appointment in 2015, Ali has been carrying on his duties in civilian attire, and in March 2017, when he appeared before the senate committee on customs and excise duties, he was asked to explain why he refused to wear the customs uniform. Ali said as a retired army officer it was against military tradition for him to wear the uniform of another organisation.
Briefing journalists after plenary, Abejide said the proposed legislation was aimed at transforming the operations of the NCS to make it more efficient and value-driven.
He said the bill proposes “legislative input into the appointment of comptroller-general of customs similar to other organisations like inspector-general of police, Nigeria Immigration Service, and the service chiefs”.
The lawmaker said the existing act did not provide that only customs officers be appointed to head the service.
“The passage of this bill is a step in the right direction, especially in view of the fact that the bill is the first major reform in the Nigeria Customs Service legal framework in 63 years,” he said.
“The old Act has become obsolete in today’s competitive global world. A review of the Act seeks to reposition the NCS for improved efficiency and service delivery. Full automation of the NCS with modern reality will facilitate trade, improve revenue generation and more importantly expose illegal importation of arms and ammunition into the country. All of these would be made possible when this bill becomes an act.
“This bill, when it becomes an act, will position the Nigeria Customs Service to be financially stable and this will enable NCS to recruit the required number of officers they need to man our porous border stations.
“The current seven percent cost of collection from the duties payment is not enough to pay salaries of officers, not to talk of improving the infrastructures. For this reason, this bill provides for a funding system based on four percent FOB according to international best practices to address funding problems and to reposition the service for improved efficiency and service delivery.”
The bill, according to the legislator, proposes “stiffer punishments” for serious customs offences and will encourage more revenue in the area of payment of fines.
The bill also makes provision for “the arbitration panel for the purpose of dispute resolution to reduce multiplicity of cases at the court of law relating to customs issues; introduction of new excise collectable revenue avenues in line with the recently enacted Finance Act 2021; and provides legal backing for the collection of excise duties on all carbonated drinks”.

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Three Russian firms, eight others bid for Ajaokuta steel company

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Eleven companies are currently bidding for the concession of the Ajaokuta steel company, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, has said.

He said three of the bidders are Russian firms.

Adegbite disclosed this at the presentation of the achievements of his ministry during the 9th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s scorecard series,  held in Abuja on Thursday.

The minister said the Buhari government had been able to resolve all contending legal issues with the steel company and was in the concession process.

He also said the major issue with the company was the concession that was done in 2005 by former president Olusegun Obasanjo to Global Steel, which resulted in litigation and a demand of $7 billion by the company.

“One of the major albatross on Ajaokuta was the concession that occurred under former President Olusegun Obasanjo to Messers Global Steel Industries,” he said.

“Things went sour and they took us to court. The court case went on for about 12 years, but thanks to a patriotic Nigerian lawyer in the United Kingdom who handled the case very effectively.

“Global steel came with a demand of $7 billion, but our lawyer was able to puncture holes in their case, and at the end, they had to settle for $496 million.”

According to Adegbite, the judgement was favourable to Nigerians.

There had been issues around the payment of $496 million to Global Steel — years after the firm gave up all claims.

The minister also said the current administration had plans to make Ajaokuta Steel Company functional before the end of 2022, but for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, said that the government was still committed to ensuring that the company was given out through a concession to a competent bidder with technical and financial capacities to optimise its potential.

“We were supposed to make the plant work in 2022. One of the presidential mandates was to resolve all contending issues on Ajaokuta,” he added.

“In 2019, at the Russian-Africa summit in Moscow, President Muhammadu Buhari discussed the idea of resuscitating Ajaokuta with President Vladimir Putin.

“An agreement was reached for Russian engineers to come in for a technical audit by March 2020.

“But the emergence of the first and second waves of COVID-19 stalled the plan.

“We hope that we can give Ajaokuta to a company, not just on a concession basis, but on equity participation.”

Adegbite further said out of the 11 companies bidding, adding that three of the companies were Russian.

“We are talking of companies who intend to bring their own money into Ajaokuta to make sure that it works,” the minister said.

“The plant is still good if we put in the right amount of capital, it will start producing in less than two years.

“Government has employed a transaction adviser who will guide us through the process.”

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Don’t buy meter, transformer, wires, NERC tells electricity consumers

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NERC’s Commissioner-in-charge of Consumers Affairs, Aisha Mahmud

• Insists consumers must sign agreement for refund
Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), yesterday, in Abuja, said it remains the responsibility of electricity distribution companies to provide meters, transformers, poles, wires and other things needed for electricity supply to consumers.

NERC’s Commissioner-in-charge of Consumers Affairs, Aisha Mahmud, speaking during a three-day NERC/Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Customer Complaint Resolution Meeting, said a lot of consumers in Nigeria are not aware of their right.

“It is not the responsibility of the consumers to buy meters, poles or any assets for the DisCos (distribution companies) because we have already provided for that in the tariff of the utilities.
“But under any circumstances that you have to purchase these items and you cannot wait for the DisCos to make that investment, we have made provision for that under our ‘investment regulation’,” Mahmud said.

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She noted that the commission will continue to educate consumers on their responsibilities and obligations, adding that there’s a regulation, and based on that, if a consumer has to purchase a transformer, it has to be done through an agreement.

She said: “The agreement should contain a dispute resolution clause and all other items that are expected of a standard agreement. What we expect from the DisCos is to use their Internally Generated Revenue to buy those assets or rather use shareholders’ investment or borrow from banks to purchase the assets.”

According to her, it’s NERC’s responsibility to educate customers on their rights and obligations and all they are supposed to know about the electricity market.
Managing Director of AEDC, Adeoye Fadeyibi, said the company will do everything possible to meet the demands of consumers.

Represented by the Head, Regulatory and Government Relation of the AEDC, Olajumoke Delonia, Fadeyibi said the idea of the forum was to address customers’ complaints and commended NERC for the initiative.

Guardian

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Naira: CBN Receives Over N500bn Old Notes

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele

As Nigerians count down on the official disbursement of new naira notes, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, revealed that the apex bank had received over N500 billion old notes as more people are working to meet the deadline. Emefiele, who stated this after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, to brief him on developments in the economy, also informed journalists that the president reaffirmed his support for all decisions so far taken on the currency alteration and cashless policy decisions.

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He said in order to ensure that members of the public are not placed in a tight corner, deposit money banks (DMBs) had taken delivery of the new currencies for onward circulation from December 15. Emefiele’s meeting with the president came on the heels of National Assembly’s objection to the implementation of withdrawal limits announced Tuesday by the apex bank The CBN governor said President Buhari was happy with the CBN policy and urged him to go ahead with implementation. Asked of his mission in Daura by newsmen, he said: “I am visiting Daura to see the President, and also greet him as part of my normal briefing that I normally carry out. The briefing has been overdue and I thought he should be briefed on what is happening in central bank and the economy.

“There are so many things happening, issues bordering on currency. “Only yesterday, the new currencies have now reached the banks, and we expect the banks to begin the distribution of the currencies to members of the public and customers; and to assure the president that things are going on well about the currency and the issue bordering on cashless policy that we recently introduced.”

New Telegraph

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