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Give me free hand to select cabinet members, Ortom tells politicians

Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue on Tuesday advised politicians against interfering in the selection of those to constitute the north-central state’s executive council.

Ortom, in a speech at the PDP Expanded Caucus meeting in Makurdi, promised to base his selection on merit, adding that those appointed could be “sacked the next day”, if found wanting in the discharge of their duties.

“I promised to offer good governance to the Benue people and shall not allow anyone to distract my focus. I will be held responsible for any failure, so I cannot allow myself to be messed up.

“Those who will make my cabinet must be ready to work because I will not tolerate any redundancy. They should know that it is a call to service of the people and not to enrich themselves,” he said.

Ortom said that he would no longer appoint “roaming appointees not ready to stay and work”.

The governor warned those to be appointed to avoid acts that could land them into the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying that he had not, and would never, ask anybody to steal money from government, for him.

“This time, there will be close checks and monitoring. Anyone who fails, will be shown the way out.

“Those working with me should not start talking about 2023; those seeking to contest election in 2023 should not even present themselves for any appointment.”

The governor explained that his cabinet would be made of 15 commissioners and 23 advisers.

Ortom promised equal treatment to all party members, and urged members of the public to feel free to criticise him and his aides if they derailed.

Fire guts Amigos Supermarket in Abuja

The popular and well sought after ‘Amigos Supermarket’ also known as ‘4U Supermarket’, in Wuse 2, Abuja, was gutted by fire on Tuesday.

Jerry Timvh, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Fire Service, confirmed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Timvh said that the fire outbreak, which affected only the warehouse section of the store, started at about 1:30p.m but was successfully put out by firefighters at 7:30p.m.

According to him, the cause of the fire is yet to be discovered as investigation is ongoing.

“The fire incident led to the loss of many goods in the store but an exact estimate of how much is yet to be revealed.

“The fire did not affect the main supermarket as it was controlled to reduce wild spread.

“There was no casualty as shoppers and staff of the store were able to evacuate the store immediately the fire started,” he said.

Amigos supermarket name was changed to ‘4U supermarket’ in 2015.

Airtel Africa lists 3.7bn shares on NSE, adds N1.3trn to market cap

Airtel Africa Plc on Tuesday listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), promising to build leadership position that would create values to all stakeholders.

Segun Ogunsanya, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Airtel Nigeria, gave the assurance during the listing.

He said that Nigeria was a great place for business and Airtel Africa remained committed to building a leadership position.

Ogunsanya said: “Investors have been interested to hear our story, most importantly, they have been interested enough to invest in our business and are now ready to share the future with us.

“There is age potential for Africa, Africa is a growing continent with a huge number of young people who consume data.

“In terms of opportunity in mobile money, we would take advantage of this opportunity to reach the unbanked in Nigeria. Nigeria is a great place for business.”

Ogunsanya said that Airtel had 45 million subscribers in the country which made it one of the biggest.

He said that the telecoms firm planned to leverage robust opportunities in Nigeria’s mobile money space to grow its earnings.

The company listed 3,758,151,504 ordinary shares at N363 per share, adding a total of N1.364 trillion to the market capitalisation of the exchange.

The company listed on the Nigerian NSE after its London Stock Exchange (LSE) listing at an offer price of 80 pence.

Ogunsanya said the company was a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with presence in 14 countries in Africa, primarily in East, Central and West Africa.

He said the company offered an integrated suite of telecommunications solutions to its subscribers, including mobile voice and data services as well as mobile money services both nationally and internationally.

He added that the group offered traditional mobile voice services, with an increasing focus on data and non-voice services through the expansion of its 3G and 4G networks.

Ogunsanya hailed Nigerian regulators for support in ensuring successful listing of the company on the nation’s bourse.

He also praised Nigerian investors for support in the initial Public Offering and assured them that they would not be disappointed.

The Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava, said: “Airtel Africa is delighted to be listed on the main board of the exchange.

“This is an exciting time for Airtel Africa in the 14 countries it operates and an important milestone in our development as a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services in Africa.

“Investors have been interested to hear our story and have been interested enough to invest in our business and are now ready to share the future with us,’’ Mandava said.

Ms Awuneba Ajumogobia, Member, Airtel Africa Board, said that the company was proud to be listed on the NSE in spite of challenges.

Ajumogobia said that the company looked forward for a joint prosperity.

Oscar Onyema, NSE Chief Executive Officer, commended Airtel Africa for the initiative.

Onyema said that the listing reaffirmed Airtel Africa’s long-term commitment to expanding opportunities and providing everyday services to Africans and Nigerians in particular.

He said that listing of the company’s shares added N1.36 trillion to the market capitalisation of NSE, further deepening the Nigerian capital market.

According to him, it will also increase the visibility of Airtel Africa to investors on the continent and across the globe.

“This listing serves to deepen the telecoms and technology sector for investors, and provides an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to be part of the African telecoms growth story”.

“Today’s listing is a promising development in Africa with Airtel Africa also being admitted to the premium listing segment to trade on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

According to Onyema, this lends credence to the successful partnership between the two exchanges.

He urged other companies to explore different opportunities for raising capital on the NSE platform.

Buhari promotes Adeosun to Lieutenant General

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the promotion of the Nigerian Army Chief of Training and Operations, Maj Gen Lamidi Adeosun, to the rank of a Lieutenant General, the same rank as the Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai.

The Nigerian Army confirmed this promotion in a release on Tuesday. The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, said apart from Adeosun, the President also approved the promotion of “Brig Gen AB Biu, General Officer Commanding 7 Division to the rank of a Major General.”

Musa said, “The President and Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the accelerated promotion of two senior officers and a subaltern of the Nigerian Army. The officers are granted promotion for their extraordinary feats, courage, exemplary leadership, loyalty, uncommon commitment and valour in the counter-insurgency operation in the North Eastern part of the country.

“The two senior officers are Maj Gen Lamidi Adeosun, the Chief of Training and Operations at Army Headquarters, who has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and Brig Gen AB Biu, General Officer Commanding 7 Division and Commander Sector 2 Operation Lafiya Dole, Maiduguri, promoted to the rank of a Major General. Also, promoted to the rank of Captain is Lieutenant AJ Danjibrin of 211 Demonstration Battalion Bauchi.

“Similarly, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, on behalf of officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army felicitated with the newly promoted officers and extends his best wishes to them in all their future endeavours.”

We will reposition NNPC to global company of excellence – Mele Kyari

The newly appointed Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mele Kyari has pledged to reposition the corporation.

Kyari said he would make the NNPC to be a global company of excellence to portray the good image of the company.

He made the pledge on Tuesday in Abuja when he paid a courtesy visit on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha in his office.

Accompanied by his predecessor, Maikanti Baru, Kyari expressed gratitude to God for the reappointment of Mustapha as SGF.

According to him, we are here on a courtesy visit to the SGF, and also for the outgoing GMD to formally hand me over to him.

He said he would continue with the good works executed by his predecessor to take the company to the next level.

“We will reposition and we will make NNPC a global company of excellence. As part of the leadership of the company before now, there are good works that my predecessor has done during his tenure and we will continue from there, ” he said.

The new NNPC boss also assured that the country’ s refineries would be revamped to ensure that incessant fuel scarcity was curtailed.

“We will sustain and build on the progress we met on ground and also to ensure that we align completely with the vision of Mr President to ensure that there is peace in the Niger Delta region.

“To also ensure that petroleum supply is sustained in such a way that Nigerians do not cry any more over fuel issues in the country, ” he said.

Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who was also on a courtesy visit to the SGF, emphasised on the need for harmonious relationship across all arms of governments to reposition the country.

According to Gbajabiamila, my visit to SGF is to come and congratulate him on his reappointment, deliberate on issues affecting the government.

“We are going to have a good executive/ legislative working relationship in the next four years. So what we are trying to do here is to have a good working relationship in both arms of government

“What we discussed today was basically issues that affect government, relationship between the two arms of government, areas were we need to block loopholes, areas were we need to develop,” he said.

This, he explained is all about good governance which would affect Nigerians positively.

In his response, Mustapha assured them of good working relationship in order to have a stable government in the next four years.

According to the SGF, in all the interactions I have had with the outgoing GMD of NNPC, the transition process in itself attest to the fact that we will have stability in the NNPC industry.

Saudi Cabinet warns Hajj pilgrims not to mix politics with religion

Saudi Arabia warned pilgrims on Tuesday not to mix politics with religion while performing Hajj.

During a meeting of the Saudi Cabinet, chaired by King Salman, pilgrims were urged to be considerate of the privacy and spirituality of the holy places and not to engage in political acts.

The warning follows a veiled threat by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of disruption and possible political demonstrations by Iranian pilgrims at this year’s Hajj, and criticism of Saudi organization of the pilgrimage.

“Among major mistakes is that they say, ‘Do not politicize Hajj’,” Khamenei said. “Creating unity is a political matter. Supporting and defending the oppressed in the world of Islam, like the Palestinian and Yemeni nations, is a political matter, based on Islamic teachings and obligations.

“Hajj is a political act and this political act is … a religious obligation,” the ayatollah said.

The Iranian leader also suggested that Saudi security measures at the annual pilgrimage were too tough. “The Saudi government bears major responsibilities,” he said. “Among their responsibilities is protecting the safety and security of pilgrims, but they should not spread a security atmosphere.

“While the pilgrims are in Makkah and Madinah, they should treat the pilgrims properly, respectfully, and with honor, because they are the guests of God.”

The ayatollah’s remarks were also condemned by the exiled Iranian author and journalist Amir Taheri. “Khamenei has ended the 10-year truce on Hajj, and called for demonstrations during the next pilgrimage,” Taheri said.

“The stage is set for riots by pilgrims sent by Tehran to Saudi Arabia to incite violence during Hajj.

“Saudi Arabia may regret having increased Iran’s Hajj quota by almost 10,000. This year some 90,000 Iranian pilgrims may turn the Islamic ritual into an anti-American demonstration that could lead to clashes among pilgrims, and with Saudi security.”

The Saudi Minister of Media, Turki Al-Shabanah, called on worshippers to refrain from taking part in any political activities — such as the raising of slogans — that might disturb the pilgrimage. He said the Kingdom would not accept such behavior, and would take all necessary action to prevent misconduct.

Chairing the ministerial meeting in Jeddah, King Salman welcomed pilgrims and directed all Hajj organizing bodies to continue providing security, stability and tranquility for the visitors.

Addressing the ministerial meeting, held at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, King Salman welcomed pilgrims on their journey to perform the fifth pillar of Islam and directed all bodies involved in organizing Hajj to continue in providing security, stability, and tranquility for pilgrims and improve the services provided to them at land, sea and air entry points to the country.

The Cabinet applauded the continued development of pilgrim services, noting the achievement of the Makkah Road initiative to speed up pre-travel administration and baggage issues.

Court orders forfeiture of Diezani’s land in PH

A federal high court in Lagos has ordered the forfeiture a plot of land in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, belonging to Diezani Madueke, a former minister of petroleum resources.

Chuka Obiozor, the presiding judge, made the forfeiture order following an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency told the judge that the land, “measuring 7,903.71 – 8,029.585 square metres” and designated as Plot 9, Azikiwe Road, Old GRA (UAC Property on Forces Avenue), Port Harcourt, was reasonably suspected to part of proceeds of unlawful activities.

The commission prayed the court for an order to allow it to appoint a competent person or firm to manage the asset/property.

It urged the court to prohibit any disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise of the asset/property.

Ebuka Okongwu, counsel for the EFCC, argued that the judge had the power, pursuant to section 17 of the advance fee fraud and other related offences Act 2006, to make the forfeiture order.

After listening to the lawyer, Obiozor granted the forfeiture order as prayed by the lawyer.

Last week, the court had ordered the forfeiture of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone belonging to Diezani.

The items were valued at $40 million.

Don’t threaten me with suspension, Abbo tells Senate panel

A mild drama ensued on Tuesday at the Senate investigative hearing on the alleged assault levelled against Adamawa Senator Elisha Abbo, when the embattled senator boasted that he was not afraid of suspension.

The upper chamber last week resolved to raise an ad-hoc committee to probe allegation of assault against Senator Abbo at an Abuja adult toy’s shop.

The probe degenerated when Abbo appeared before the seven-member committee and declined to talk on the matter, claiming that the case for which he was being investigated was already before a court.

The embattled senator noted that even if he wanted to speak on the mater, he would prefer to talk in camera.

Miffed by the senator’s attitude, the panel members said the embattled senator cannot dictate to them.

They told him of the consequence of his action and asked him to comply, but the senator insisted that he cannot be threatened with suspension.

He said: “I cannot talk because the matter is in court. Why should I be talking before the camera. I cannot talk.

“I cannot be speaking before this committee because that would be subjudice since the matter under investigation is already before the court. So, why should I be facing the camera.

A member of the committee, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, told her colleagues that the senator cannot dictate to the committee.

She reminded Abbo that he could be suspended as a result of what transpired in the video that went viral.

Mrs. Tinubu said: “Distinguished senators, we want to tell you that you are just joining us. We also have have a procedure.

“What we are doing, we are doing it as a legislature. Everybody deserves a fair hearing. What is going on with you, affects us as a body. That is why the Senate President constituted this committee. You can see the level and integrity of members of the committee.

“You don’t come here and dictate to us, the procedure we are supposed to follow. You are undermining us by trying to do that. You are not evening listening to us.

“Even if we are going beyond what you expect, you can’t stop us. Do you want us to protect you, defend you or do you want to be on your own?

Responding to Mrs. Tinubu’s comment, Abbo said: You cannot threaten me with suspension. It is not out of place for me to say am not addressing the press.

“I came because I received a text message from the committee. I will talk to the media. I should address the committee in closed door.”

The committee members, however, agreed that Senator Abbo should speak to the committee behind closed doors.

Before the committee went into a closed session, Abbo said that he decided to apologize last week in order to protect the institution of the Senate.

He added that the matter happened before he became a senator, pointing out that the incident had been overtaken by events.

Counsel to the victim of the assault, Solola &Akpana who appeared before committee informed the panel that the victim was in the hospital and claimed that they did not know when she was going to leave the hospital.

The counsel declined to make any statement on the matter.

Ruga is colonialism, says Taraba gov

Gov. Darius Ishaku of Taraba state has described the Ruga initiative as a form of colonialism, saying it should not only be suspended but cancelled.

The federal government had proposed the idea as a means of addressing the incessant clashes between cattle rearers and farmers but it was suspended following public outcry against it.

Speaking with journalists at the government house in Jalingo, on Tuesday, Ishaku said the policy would not have worked in Taraba because the state already has a law prohibiting open grazing.

He said he submitted a loan request to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to facilitate ranching in the state but the loan was not approved.

“Ruga is colonialism; it is not about cattle; it is not even about grasses. It should not only be suspended, but it should also be cancelled completely,” he said.

“The whole Ruga scheme should be canceled. You can’t do a Ruga in the entire country. I don’t accept it. It is not workable, and it will not work in Taraba state.

“Already, I have in place the Anti-Open Grazing Law in Taraba state that prohibits open grazing but encourages ranching. And we are making a lot of progress on ranching.

“I submitted a request to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for us (Taraba) to be given a loan for us to do the ranching but the CBN has refused to approve it, for reasons I don’t know.

“Otherwise, I would have showcased what ranching is in Taraba state. It is the best form of practice in modern days, if indeed you are talking about cattle, grasses and grazing.

“But I don’t think they (federal government) are talking about cattle; I don’t agree that they are talking about grasses. They are talking of something else, colonisation.”

He described the democracy being practised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as “embarrassing and insulting” while reacting to the siege to his residence in Abuja by the police.

The police had allegedly raided the Abuja residence of the governor in June, saying they had a warrant from the special presidential investigation panel (SPIP) to search the house.

He expressed shock that the APC did not condemn the action.

“I feel very bad that the democratic government of the APC is not living according to the tenets of the constitution. It is disgraceful, embarrassing and insulting,” he said.

“I’m shocked that only my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned the police’s siege on my house. APC didn’t talk about it. Don’t they have governors? Can somebody walk into an APC governor’s house and search it?

“They broke the gate, broke all the doors of my house, threw out my children. I used two years to beg them (children) to come back to Nigeria. Now, one of them has gone back, I’m still begging him to come back to Nigeria. This is nonsense.”

 

Okorocha calls for creation of happiness ministry to tackle suicide

Rochas Okorocha, senator representing Imo west, says a happiness ministry should be created to tackle suicide and rape cases.

Okorocha said this on Tuesday while contributing to a debate on a motion sponsored by Theodore Orji, senator representing Abia central.

Orji’s motion was on the “rising incidence of suicides amongst Nigerians.”

Okorocha, an immediate past governor of Imo state, argued that a lot of people take their own lives because they lack the ability to express themselves or to share their feelings with anyone.

“Mr senate president, may I suggest that whether it’s the issue of rape, suicide, let us create a department to address these issues,” he said.

“Ministry of health is not up to that, Police is not equipped for that, ministry of information is not equipped for that, we must have a department where people can go and express themselves – that ministry must be a ministry or department of happiness.

“All our prayers appear to me as though we are embarking on academic exercise that might not reflect any practical reality.

“A step should be further taken to find out why these people are not happy to the extent that they will take their life.”

While moving the motion earlier, the former Abia governor said suicide could be prevented “when family, friends and close relatives of the person contemplating suicide provide support.”

“Many people commit suicide out of ignorance and situations that could be addressed; and the people in the position to help, encourage or assist ignore to do so thereby leaving them to commit suicide at will,” he said.

The senate urged religious organisations in the country to preach love, peace and how to relieve stress.

It also urged the federal government to ban the production, importation or circulation of snipers insecticide — substance often used to commit suicide.

Corps member, who washed hair with Sniper, dies 10 days to birthday

A member of the National Youth Service Corps scheme serving in Osun State, Ayomikun Ademorayo, on Sunday died after she reportedly washed her hair with an insecticide, Sniper, to eliminate lice.

Some colleagues of the deceased told our correspondent that Ayomikun, an orphan, discovered lice in her hair while preparing a new hairdo in preparation for her birthday on July 18.

They added that Ayomikun, a prominent member of the state NYSC volleyball team, applied the insecticide to her hair on Sunday afternoon and became unconscious a few minutes later.

The deceased, who studied Human Kinetics at the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, it was learnt, lost her mother in June this year, while her father died some years ago.

She was said to be the breadwinner of the family and had younger siblings in secondary schools.

An eyewitness, who lives in the same compound with the deceased, told PUNCH Metro that Ayomikun became unconscious shortly after applying the substance to her hair and was rushed to a private hospital in Osogbo.

She, however, reportedly died on the way to the hospital.

The source said, “Ayomikun loose her hair in order to make a new style for her birthday, which is in 10 days’ time. She was preparing for July 18. She had bought a new clothe and bag for the purpose. She discovered that lice had infested her hair.

“So, on Sunday afternoon, she just applied Sniper to her hair to eliminate the lice. Shortly after she did that, Ayomikun lost consciousness and was immediately rushed to a private hospital in Osogbo. But she died before she could get to the hospital.”

Reacting to the incident, the Public Relations Officer, NYSC in the state, Funmilayo Okundaye, said she had yet to get the details, but confirmed the death of the corps member.

Sources told correspondent that when officials of the NYSC in Osun State contacted the deceased’s next of kin, they were told to arrange the burial in Osogbo though her relations live in Lagos.

Speaking during a short funeral service for the deceased at the Christian Association of Nigeria Cemetery, Ede, on Monday, the Osun State Coordinator, NYSC, Ayodele Adegoke, who was represented by an official, described the deceased as cool-headed and had contributed to the advancement of her friends and community without recourse to race and tribe.

Shiite group invades NASS Complex, injures 3 police men

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN- the Shiite on Tuesday, invaded the National Assembly Complex throwing stones and injuring three police men.

The invaders stormed the complex at about 1.30 p.m., demanding the release of their leader Ibrahim El Zakzaky who has been in detention for about four years.

The injured police men were rushed to the NASS clinic for treatment.

The protesters forced their way through the first gate near the Federal Secretariat and headed to the main building where they clashed with security operatives.

Some vehicles’ screens were broken with stones in the process, resulting in the closure of the second gate by security agents who placed restriction on movement in and out of the building.

NAN also reports that plenary is still going on at the House of Representatives.
Additional police men are also being deployed in strategic locations to forestall total breakdown of law and order in the complex.

Election Tribunal: Galadima testifies against Buhari, insists he’s still an APC member

Buba Galadima, a spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, says he is still a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He made this statement while speaking at the presidential tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, on Monday, presented Buba Galadima, as its witness.

During cross-examination, Wole Olanipekun, the APC’s counsel, asked Galadima why he was no longer on good terms with the president.

In response, he said he supported Buhari’s presidential ambition in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 because he believed Buhari as qualified to lead the country.

He said bad governance has made him change his mind about Buhari’s competence.

“I’m still a member of APC. I have not been sacked. We are in court. I don’t want to be subjudice,” he said, adding he is the chairman of the Reformed APC, even though it is not a registered party.

“I’m not a member of PDP, but we have a memorandum of understanding with the PDP to produce God-fearing, good and educated leader.”

PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, are challenging the February 23 election in which Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared winner.

Galadima was formerly an ally in the Buhari camp and was one of the nine signatories that signed the merger agreement to form the All Progressives Congress.

He was called to the witness stand at the proceedings, after Livy Uzoukwu, PDP’s lawyers, tendered some result sheets from four local government areas of Kano state.

Adams Oshiomole, the APC chairman, also attended the sitting for the first time since the sitting began on June 10.

Before now, Uche Secondus, the PDP chairman and Peter Obi, the party’s vice-presidential candidate, had attended proceedings at different times.

Atiku had tendered 26,175 exhibits against the election.

In a statement through Paul Ibe, his spokesman, Atiku had said the exhibits include result sheets from polling units, wards and local governments in eight states namely Katsina, Kebbi, Borno, Jigawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kaduna and partly Kano.

He claims that the results show that he won the election.

We’ll no longer deal with British envoy to US, Trump says

US President Donald Trump declared on Monday he would have no further contact with Britain’s ambassador to Washington, following the leak of diplomatic cables in which the envoy described him as “inept.”

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S,” Trump tweeted of Kim Darroch, as Britain scrambled to stem the damage to relations caused by the incident.

“We will no longer deal with him,” added Trump, who hit out in a series of tweets at Theresa May and her “representatives,” and welcomed the prime minister’s impending departure from office.

(AFP)

Tinubu among promoters of Ruga – Odumakin

Afenifere chieftain, Yinka Odumakin, says All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bola Tinubu, is one of the promoters of the Ruga initiative which seeks to give free land to herdsmen for cattle grazing and other forms of animal husbandry.

Odumakin drew the attention of Nigerians to Tinubu’s speech at a national summit on conflict resolution organised by The Nation and TV Continental with the theme, ‘Towards an Enduring Peace.’

He noted that at the event which held at the Nigerian Air Force Centre, Abuja on October 8, 2018, Tinubu said, “The government must help herders gradually shift from their traditional nomadic existence to a more static lifestyle. We have to face the reality that modernity is making the nomadic way counterproductive and inefficient.

“Unoccupied, isolated land can quickly be turned into grazing areas in the affected states. In the long run, this will enable herders to better maintain their livestock and thus their own livelihood.”

Speaking with our correspondent during an interview on Monday, the Afenifere spokesman said it was for this reason that Tinubu could not join other prominent Yoruba leaders in rejecting the Ruga programme.

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; the Aare Oona Kakanfo, Otunba Gani Adams, the Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi; and other prominent Nigerians have all condemned the scheme.

Odumakin said, “It would be a waste of time to expect Tinubu to say anything on the Ruga matter. Don’t forget that in 2018, it was reported in The PUNCH that he said all unused lands should be given to herdsmen for grazing. I spoke up then but he lambasted me.

“What we are witnessing today is a manifestation of what he said. So, how can he come out today to oppose Ruga? He advocated Ruga.

“To expect Asiwaju to speak against Ruga is like expecting a shadow to shed tears. It will never happen.”

The Afenifere spokesman also noted that the Ruga initiative and the National Livestock Development Plan being handled by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo were not different from each other as claimed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Spokesman, Garba Shehu.

Customs officer hospitalised for mental health illness

 

An assistant superintendent of the Nigeria Customs Service has been hospitalised after showing traits of mental ailments at the office on Monday.

Nura Dalhatu resumed office at the Customs Headquarters, Abuja, on Monday morning, wearing the uniform of a deputy comptroller general, a poition far above his official rank, a spokesperson for Customs, Joseph Attah, said.

Attah said Mr Dalhatu was questioned about his action but replied in a manner that indicated he was mentally challenged.

“It was obvious that he was not in the right frame of mind,” Mr Attah said. “From the question and the answer he gave.”

Attah said the official has been taken to the hospital for appropriate evaluation and treatment, urging Nigerians to show sympathy towards his condition and pray for his quick recovery.

He urged Nigerians to dismiss social media rumour that Dalhatu wanted to take over the position of comptroller-general, saying the development was too serious for any serious citizen to mock or use to further a sinister agenda.

The spokesperson also said additional information about the development would be provided to the public as soon as possible.

Customs officer promotes self to CG, asks Hameed Ali to hand over

Nura Dahiru, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs, on Monday promoted himself to the rank of Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs (DCG), claiming he was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to assume the office of Comptroller-General (CG).

Sources at the Customs headquarters in Abuja said that Dahiru walked in Monday morning wearing the new rank, and went into the office of Hameed Ali, the comptroller-general.

“As he came in, officers were saluting him because he was wearing that rank,” one of the sources said.

“Sometime in May, he had posted on Facebook that he had been directed by the president to take over from Hameed Ali, and today when we saw him in the new rank, we thought, indeed, he has been promoted and so directed by the president. He went inside the CG’s office, sat in the waiting room, expecting the CG to handover to him.”

He has since been arrested and detained pending investigation, sources said.

 

Police arraign Senator Abbo over sex toy shop assault

The police have arraigned Elisha Abbo, senator representing Adamawa north, for allegedly assaulting a woman at a sex toy shop in Abuja.

The lawmaker was arriagned at a magistrate court in Zuba on Monday.

Anjuguri Manzah, spokesman of the federal capital territory (FCT) police, confirmed the development.

Abbo has been under fire after a video clip of him hitting the woman, simply identified as Briba, went viral.

On Thursday, the police arrested the senator after he surrendered himself to the FCT police command.

He was detained and released on bail on Friday.

The senator has since asked Nigerians for forgiveness over the incident at the shop. His apology came after outrage on social media and protest against him.

Abbo said he had learnt his lessons and would be of good conduct henceforth.

“I personally apologize to Bibra and her family for my action towards her, which has brought immense discomfort in our body polity,” he had said.

“I have never been known or associated with such actions in the past.”

The senate also set up a committee to investigate Abbo. The report of the committee is expected in within two weeks.

Lecturer goes to jail for insulting President Museveni in poem

Ugandan feminist and lecturer Stella Nyanzi, has been jailed over a poem about ‘Vagina’ she wrote and shared on Facebook in September.

The Ugandan feminist in the poem, used a graphic description of the birth of the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and his mother’s vagina to criticize his “oppression, suppression and repression” in the country.

Stella who was arraigned before Buganda Road Court, was charged with “cyber harassment and offensive communication”.

She was accused of intending to disturb the peace and privacy of President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his mother the late Esteeri.

The poem she wrote, read:

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How bitterly sad a day!

I wish the smelly and itchy cream-coloured candida festering in Esiteri’s cunt had suffocated you to death during birth.

Suffocated you just like you are suffocating us with oppression, suppression and repression!

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How painfully ugly a day!

I wish the lice-filled bush of dirty pubic hair overgrown all over Esiteri’s unwashed chuchu had strangled you at birth.

Strangled you just like the long tentacles of corruption you sowed and watered into our bleeding economy.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How nauseatingly disgusting a day!

I wish the acidic pus flooding Esiteri’s cursed vaginal canal had burnt up your unborn fetus.

Burnt you up as badly as you have corroded all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How horrifically cancerous a day!

I wish the infectious dirty-brown discharge flooding Esiteri’s loose pussy had drowned you to death.

Drowned you as vilely as you have sank and murdered the dreams and aspirations of millions of youths who languish in the deep sea of massive unemployment, and under-emplyment in Uganda.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday.

How traumatically wasted a day!

I wish the poisoned uterus sitting just above Esiteri’s dry clitoris had prematurely miscarried a thing to be cast upon a manure pit.

Prematurely miscarried just like you prematurely aborted any semblance of democracy, good governance and rule of law.

Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday!

How morbidly grave a day!

I wish that Esiteri’s cursed genitals had pushed out a monstrously greenish-bluish still-birth.

You should have died at birth, you dirty delinquent dictator…

You should have died in birth, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

She concluded by saying: “If you want to beat me for my heartfelt birthday poem, come and find me at my home.

“Ask the bodabodamen to direct you to Mama Stella’s house with a red gate. I refuse to be gagged!

The academic had stated that she has no case to answer and pushed for her immediate release, but the judgment wasn’t in her favor. Her request for the court to summon 20 defense witnesses, including President Yoweri Museveni himself was also turned down.

Nyanzi is battling three other legal cases among which is “cyber harassment and offensive communication” trial for a poem calling the President a “pair of buttocks,” which she was granted bail.

She is also in dispute with her former employer Makerere University, which dismissed her for staging a naked protest, and a case disputing her inclusion on Uganda’s “no-fly” list initiated by her critical Facebook commentary.

Nyanzi is still being held at Luzira prison where she has been since November 2018.

Heritage Bank: Of Moral Hazards and the Unravelling of a Deposit Money Institution

 

Three months ago Proshare had cause to commit resources to investigate and produce an hitherto unpublished Confidential Report on Heritage Banking Company Limited, in direct response to the promptings of the advisory board members who wanted to know the true state of the bank which had another financial institution handling clearing operations for it at some time.

By this time, and curiously; it wasn’t such a big news that some of the bank depositors had experienced recurring challenges with withdrawals and staff exits did little to help matters. Yet, the restraint was important in order to ensure and support financial system stability as well as give the institution an opportunity to execute its resolution strategies without hindrance. After all, the institutional frameworks were in place to protect depositors and the system in general.

The task involved a lot of stakeholder engagements including sources we understood to be in a position to recognize, appreciate and make informed decisions. The revelations offered little comfort from history to, interventions up to the current state. We limited ourselves however to facts, data and evidence and submitted the report.

Further to the completion of this initial review, and in the interest of giving the financial system an opportunity to resolve the bank’s challenges through normal regulatory intervention and management effort at recapitalizing the institution or determination of the banks going concern status through a merger and acquisition (M&A) arrangement; the report remained private.

The burden of a moral hazard however appeared a bigger burden than tolerable or envisaged, especially given the evident ‘sailors survival’ approach that appears to have kicked in as seen through senior management exit, non-improving conditions, non-progressing talks around mergers and acquisitions; and recapitalization plans.

It has become compelling to highlight concerns about the bank formally; with the hope that ‘some intervention’ can happen to alter the trajectory of an inevitability. and remove the spectre of a bank waiting to die that overshadows the institution, unfortunately.

Proshare’s investigation into the bank revealed a few major concerns related to corporate governance and operational stability/sustainability. The primary issues included, but were not limited to the following:

• The acquisition of Enterprise Bank which is turning out to be a major strategic error;

• HBL’s non-performing loans (NPLs) portfolio, which are amongst the most challenged in the industry. Impairment charges in H1 2018 was estimated at N37.5bn but by year end, we extrapolated that the figure should settle around N634.5m;

• The bank posted an operating loss before tax of N38.5bn in H1 2018 and a loss of N4.4bn in the unaudited figures for the month of December 2018;

• The bank’s leverage has been a major sore point for management. The banks debt to equity ratio was -0.17. The negative value reflected negative shareholders fund which could be impaired by as much as $1bn

• Equity capital has been virtually wiped out by accumulated losses, a legacy issue;

• The bank’s regular recourse to the CBN’s short term borrowing window highlights persistent liquidity resolution issues;

• Corporate governance has been a challenge as a number of the bank’s directors have allegedly been involved in a series of poor performing insider loan transactions, and little known about such resolutions (if any);

• The bank’s 2018 unaudited financial figures shows a dire situation in several operational metrics; and

• The bank has not been engaged in direct cheque clearing for a while, HBL’s instruments have been cleared through a third party first tier bank which got a full CBN guarantee against clearing loses.

IEI’s Pound of Flesh

It is instructive to recall how this sorry pass all began. Records indicated that Heritage Bank was in a difficult place from the start. It’s managing director and chief promoter, Ifie Sekibo, was the former Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of International Energy Insurance (IEI) Plc from where a sizable amount of the acquisition money for the old SGBN was raised. Sekibo has been in a stretch of back and forth with the Board of his former company on this subject, as the directors of the company insist that Heritage Bank should be considered as part of the assets of the Insurance group; going as far as alleging that Sekibo had invested the insurers money in the bank without the approval of then Board members; or indicating/stating IEI’s consideration in the bank acquisition, if any.

The matter of using IEI resources to acquire the former Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) which was renamed Heritage Banking Company Limited has been the subject of a longstanding Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) investigation and continues to hound the bank’s CEO till date. Our background work on the matter then, enabled us to sight documentations that lends credence if not validity to the role played IEI as reflected in presentations made to its board.

Mr. Sekibo has over the past few years tried to work out an amicable settlement with the IEI Group and directors, but matters are still fluid with necessary concessions being made on both parts. That said, the CEO’s travails still continue as he has had to deal with a few other issues concerning related-party transactions that have crystallized and left the bank’s books in a difficult position.

Weak Governance and Control

Heritage Bank’s problems have most certainly not been about Sekibo, alone. Far from it, the bank’s Board of directors (including former directors) has created a permissive culture that led to this.

Heritage Bank’s erstwhile chairman was also known to have used the banks tills to acquire two electricity distribution licenses’ the underlying cash flow difficulties of the businesses were subsequently and promptly transmitted to the bank, resulting in large repayment defaults. Indeed the loans have become ‘hardcore’ non-performing assets sitting on the bank’s books and creating both liquidity and profitability difficulties.

Managers of the bank, particularly branch managers, were in the past profligate in granting authorized and unauthorized loans to associates. Temporary overdrafts (TODs) routinely skipped repayment dates while structured loans also habitually missed the terms of the loan indenture, resulting into phantom profits and worsening liquidity.

Huge public sector deposits were beauties turned into monsters. The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy by the federal government in 2015 subsequently left the bank’s Asset and Liability Management (ALM) position in tatters.

The TSA policy did four things to undermine the bank’s fiscal stability:

• Sharply reduced the bank’s deposits;
• Significantly raised the banks cost of Funds (CoF);
• Reduced the bank’s ability to give short term loans; and
• Weakened the bank’s already fragile profitability.

Since the bank was already nurtured on a culture of entitlement, finding strategic options to wriggle from, under the weight of government policy and patronage became impossible.

Heritage Bank’s narrow retail base and its poor quality risk assets put inevitable pressure on profitability and liquidity. To compound matters, the bank’s internal control and compliance functions appears to have operated under a cloud of breaches than in the protection of standard corporate governance requirements, as directors willy-nilly violated single obligor limits. The poor internal control and audit process and administration at the bank thus complicated an already combustible bad loan and poor liquidity situation.

 

Coup de Foudre (Unintended Consequences)

As a way out of its myriad of challenges, the bank fell in love with another entity, committing a tragic error. In a bold but ill-digested move, Heritage Bank decided to acquire the Asset Management Company of Nigeria’s (AMCON’s) legacy deposit money institution, Enterprise Bank, this was the decision that let all the evil spirits out of Pandora’s box. The acquisition of Enterprise Bank was the classic example of a Cobra Effect or a situation where a cure becomes worse than the original disease.

The decision to acquire Enterprise Bank for N56bn in 2014 resulted in unintended consequence. At the time, the bank’s Board rationale in acquiring Enterprise Bank from AMCON was to rapidly expand the retail end of HBL’s operations and reduce its cost to income ratio based on representations that informed their decision. That gambit has proven to be a disaster and a cautionary tale on acquiring distressed banks unfortunately.

The Enterprise Bank wedlock, as consummated, turned into a fiasco as it added a further two hundred (200) branches to the banks operations and cut interest expense while improving net interest income (see chart 1 below). This led to the following outcomes:

• A sudden and significant rise in the bank’s bad debt to asset ratio;
• A leap in the bank’s debt provisioning or loan impairment requirements;
• A major rise in operational costs;
• A rise in the banks cost to income ratio (99% in FY 2018, as against the 53% of a bank like StanbicIBTC). (See chart 2 below);
• Stretching human capacity by lifting managers to their highest levels of administrative and technical (in)competence (The Peter Principle); and
• Low Interest Income (as a result of slowing lending activities, (see chart 3) and high interest expense (as a result of a relatively low retail customer base, (see chart 4).

Chart 1 Net Interest Income FY2018, Heritage Bank and StanbicIBTC Bank


Source: Reported Financials Submitted / Estimated

Chart 2 Operating Expenses/Income FY2018,Heritage Bank and StanbicIBTC Bank


Source: Reported Financials Submitted / Estimated

Chart 3 Interest Income FY2018, Heritage Bank and StanbicIBTC Bank


Source: Reported Financials Submitted / Estimated

Biting into the Heritage Saga – What The Report Says

To understand the nexus between weak corporate governance, hubris, regulatory indulgence and Heritage Bank, the reader needs to carefully read the PDF report.

The report attempts a holistic look at the bank’s realities and lays bare the challenges that occur when individuals and institutions fail to live up to the exacting standards that are required to turn fragile ideas into enduring legacies.

The report was carried out as an intervention guidance to prompt action from the various parties and interested entities; all in the overall interest of the financial system.

To protect the financial system from contagion, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may need to move into the affairs of Heritage Bank and any of three actions are now plausible:

• Wind up the institution with shareholders losing their money (as things stand today shareholder’s funds have been completely eroded) while depositors resort to the National Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for part recovery of deposited funds;
• Find fresh investors interested in the institution and intermediate a best effort basis sale of exiting shareholder interest and recapitalization of the institution as a going concern; and
• Liquidation of the institution and the running of the bank under a new franchise as a legacy institution managed by AMCON and available for purchase by third party investors.

The preferred solution would appear to be either the second or third options.

The second option would be of particular preference as it would not involve heavy ‘menu cost’ by way of rebranding but would involve a new ownership – Board of Directors and management staff. The fresh capital inflow would eliminate the need for initial treasury support from public coffers and would likely result in fresh/foreign capital inflows which would be beneficial for the local currency while also protecting domestic employment. This approach would appear plausible given that the CBN recently gave out new licenses to start up banks; premised on their understanding that there exist room for new entrants with fresh ideas and approach.

The CBN would however have to work fast if Heritage Bank is not to be dark blight on the Governors no-failure record.

From indicators received, there is a small window to achieve a technical resolution of the Heritage Bank situation, lest it could find itself taking remedial action(s) at a much higher economic cost later than it would now.

Heritage Bank’s weak liquidity, impaired shareholder funds and high loan impairment, according to analysts, needs action not tolerance. The time to act is now!