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We won’t resume tolling at Lekki tollgate soon – LCC

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The Lekki Concession Company (LCC) has said resumption of tolling at the plaza may take months because of the extent of the damage done to the plaza.

Its Managing Director Yomi Omomuwasan gave the indication on Monday while speaking at a media briefing alongside Lagos State Information and Strategy Commissioner Gbenga Omotoso.

The event was in response to the controversy surrounding the firm’s repossession of the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza, popularly called Lekki Tollgate.

Omomuwasan urged aggrieved youths bent on preventing the firm from the evaluation of the damage done to its assets on October 20, 2020 to show understanding.

The LCC chief regretted that some people were using fake news to misinform Nigerians about the company’s ownership and whip up public sentiment against its return to business.

He cited the firm’s indebtedness to banks and the fate of its over 500 workers as the compelling reasons the damage assessment ought to begin without further delay.

According to him, LCC’s assets were “comprehensively insured” before they were burnt and that the insurance companies need to examine the extent of the damage.

Omomuwasan said, “The assessment of things that are burnt will require a team of engineers from both the LCC and those working with us. What we operate is an electronic tolling system that requires a lot of equipment to be brought together. We need to do this proper and critical assessment, and it takes some time.

“It is not something that will happen within a month. I am not sure this will happen within three months, because of the extent of what has been damaged.”

The LCC boss explained that the firm denied a forensic expert access to its servers because the letter he brought from the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry said the audit would only focus on the site of the shooting and not its servers.

He also said his company expected the analyst to return with another letter with appropriate content, but had not received any.

He explained that the non-return of the company to operation was negatively affecting its subsisting loan obligations to local and international lenders, maintenance of the road, as well as its ancillary services.

Omomuwasan said, “As of January 31, 2021, the outstanding debt liability from the local lenders was in the region of N11.6 billion and from the foreign lenders $31.1 million (USD), with the difference being the amount LCC has so far paid the lenders.

“It is important to say that before the #EndSARS protest, LCC had continued to meet up with servicing its loan obligations without default to the lenders.

“However, since the commencement of the #EndSARS protest, the forceful takeover of the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza and the unfortunate incident of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, we have had to plead for moratorium repeatedly with our local and international lenders. It has been impossible to meet our loan repayment obligations and obligations to our workers.”

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JUST IN: Old naira: IMF asks FG, CBN to extend February 10 deadline

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for the extension of the February 10 deadline to phase out the old naira notes.

The International monetary body made the call just after the Supreme Court had restrained the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) from enforcing the deadline.

The IMF, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by Laraba Bonet, said the plea was on the hardship Nigerians were exposed to over the issue.

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It said: “in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline should problems persist  in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline”.

The IMF is the first international financial organisation to openly call for extension of the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes.

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Cash crunch: Protesters defy police in Abeokuta, make bonfires on major roads

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Residents of Abeokuta, Ogun State, took to the streets on Tuesday protesting the scarcity of cash and the attendant pains.

Major streets affected by the protests are Aladesanmi, Fajol and Somorin in Obantoko area of Abeokuta as the protesters made bonfires and chanted anti-CBN songs
The Sapon branch of First Bank was also vandalised and the protesters tried to set it ablaze.
Ogun Police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the protest, saying police officers were on the ground to monitor the situation and prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
He said some group of boys were involved in the crisis.
The police later came to disperse the protesters but they regrouped as soon as the operatives withdrew from the scene.
The situation affected vehicular movement as motorists and pedestrians ran in different directions to avert being caught up in the chaotic situation.

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Court frees Diezani associate Omokore of $1.6bn fraud

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An Abuja federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of $1.6bn fraud allegations.

Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo on a 15-count charge on July 4, 2016.

They were accused of fraudulently diverting the $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

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