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Chatham House: $582bn stolen from Nigeria since independence

An estimated $582 billion has been stolen from Nigeria since independence in 1960.

The estimate, which was attributed to Chatham House, was quoted in an article published by The Economist titled, ‘Catch me if you can, African kleptocrats are finding it tougher to stash cash in the West,’ published in its online edition.

Corruption is known to be one of Nigeria’s major problem and at least N11 trillion is said to have been diverted in the power sector alone since 1999, while N1.3 trillion public funds were reportedly laundered between 2011 and 2015.

In the article which talks about illicit financial flows in Africa, The Economist said so much has been pilfered from the continent that “tracking it all is tricky”.

It quoted Britain’s International Corruption unit as saying it has confiscated £76m ($117m) loot from Nigeria since 2006.

“Another £791m has been frozen worldwide thanks to its work,” it said, adding that “it barely makes a dent in the £100bn of illicit funds which Steve Goodrich at Transparency International, a watchdog, reckons enters Britain every year”.

The Economist said African leaders’ best way of hiding and moving stolen funds is to set up “a raft of anonymous shell companies and bank accounts”.

It spoke of how Sani Abacha, the former military head of state stole Nigeria blind and “deposited billions of dollars in banks across the rich world, no questions asked”.

“Light-fingered tyrants are looking back wistfully. In past decades they could stash their illicit wealth in the West,” it said.

“Friendly lawyers, banks and middlemen were on hand to park the loot. Western governments often seemed equally unfussed.”

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

The article, however, said gone are the days when stealing public funds was easy as it is “becoming a bit harder to get away with”.

“Anti-corruption campaigners and muckraking journalists have busied themselves trying to uncover stolen assets,” it said.

“Western governments, tired of seeing aid money stolen, have toughened up money-laundering and bribery laws.”

Similarly, an anti-corruption tool in the form of a mobile application was recently launched by the Akin Fadeyi Foundation to enable Nigerians to report corrupt practices.

Nigeria’s population is a liability, says Sanusi

The Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sanusi (II) on Monday said that Nigeria’s huge population is currently a liability to the country.

He said this during a panel session of the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit currently holding in Abuja.

The session was attended by the Founder of the Kukah Centre, Bishop Mathew Kukah and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi.

The session focussed on how demographic realities can be transformed into social and business opportunities and what the implications are on internal migration, sustainable peace and security.

The Emir said that the potentials of the country’s huge population had yet to be tapped as the right policies to harness the future of the young people are still lacking.

Sanusi attributed the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency, farmers-herders crisis to the level of population growth.

He said, “People talk that our population is an asset but we are yet to get there. Nigeria’s population is currently a liability because most of the root cause of problems such as kidnapping, armed robbery, Boko Haram, drug addiction are all tied to the population that we have and the question is how do you turn that into a productive one.”

Keep borders closed until neighbours comply with ECOWAS protocols —Oshiomhole

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomole, has said that Nigerian borders with neighbouring countries should remain closed until they comply with ECOWAS protocols.

Oshiomole stated this when he paid a solidarity visit to the office of the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, retired Col. Hameed Ali on Thursday in Abuja.

He explained that his party is strongly in support of the border closure and all other reforms being carried out by the service.

He added that such action should be sustained for the economic growth of the country.

He said the APC under his leadership is impressed and has resolved to identify with the NCS on the feat recorded so far.

“The state must have control over the economy and Nigeria is absolutely right in taking the decision having been victims of expired rice brought in through the porous borders.

“It is a shame that after spending much to reposition agriculture, we still allow people to import expired rice into our country.

“We are lucky to have a president who told us to consume what we produce in the country in order to grow our economy.

“People are complaining that the prices of food commodities have gone up. Our farmers should make money from their sweat.

“Over the years, farmers got a good harvest, sometimes with right prices but smugglers often crash the prices,” he said.

The chairman urged Nigerians to go into farming and take advantage of the current good price of food produce.

He said the policy of the Buhari-led government would eradicate poverty and take prosperity to the rural people.

According to him, Nigeria as a country comes first, second and third before any other thing, there are rules of the game and the rules must be followed.

“NCS is a critical organisation to ensure we do not export prosperity abroad and import poverty to the country.

“Yes, Nigeria is a big brother to other African countries, but the big brother should not be poisoned through the importation of expired rice to the country.

“Buhari’s support base is the masses, the commoners and this policy is for them, that is why we are supporting it,” he added.

Ali while responding thanked the APC chairman for identifying with the service in the step taken to boost the economy of the country.

He said the border closure had boosted the nation’s revenue and also reduced the rate of insecurity in the country.

Ali stated that the borders would remain closed until neighbouring countries comply with the ECOWAS protocols on the transit of goods and services, which they have all signed

(NAN)

World Bank ranks Nigeria among ‘Top 20 Improvers’ in ease of doing business

Nigeria has been named among the “top 20 improvers” in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings for 2019.

Renowned Indian-American experts on strategy, globalisation, and entrepreneurship, Anil Gupta, disclosed this in Lagos on Tuesday.

The World Bank is expected to release the full report later this month. But Mr Gupta said a preliminary report showed Nigeria was ranked along with China and India among countries that recorded significant improvements in their systems towards ease of doing business.

Mr Gupta was one of the special guest speakers at the Platform, a biennial economic summit organised by the Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos to commemorate Nigeria’s 59th Independence anniversary celebrations.

He said the areas the World Bank report pointed out in which Nigeria has shown the most improvement in the last one year include creating new electronic platforms for taxes and corporate affairs for starting new businesses, registering property as well as the issuance of construction permits.

In 2018, Nigeria was ranked 146 out of 190 countries on the Ease of Doing Business globally. The country dropped by a spot from the 145th position in 2017 after moving 24 places from 169 in the previous year.

The philosopher ranked by Thinkers50 as one of the world’s “most influential living management thinkers” said Nigeria is making progress in economic development.

Apart from the official approval of the Bakassi Deep-seaport by the Federal Government, Mr Gupta also noted the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s push towards a cashless economy, describing it as a significant boost to the economy, particularly financial inclusion.

“Nigeria has come a long way. It has been a still democracy for many years. Today, it is Africa’s largest economy. It is the sixth in the world in terms of internet users, behind China, India, U.S., Brazil and Indonesia. Nigeria remains a role model for other countries in Africa,” he said.

He identified the gross domestic product (GDP) and the per capita income of the citizens as the most important economic measures that define the economic success or health of any society.

The GDP, which is the aggregate value of goods and services over a period, mirrors the employment levels of the economy, while the per capita income reflects the average income earned per person in an economy.

‘We’re allies in fight against terrorism’ — Trump congratulates Nigeria at independence

President Donald Trump has congratulated the Nigerian government on the nation’s 59th independence anniversary.

In a statement issued on Monday, Trump said Nigeria is one of its strongest partners and wished the country success in its endeavours.

Trump said the US and Nigeria are allies in the fight against terrorism and expressed his wish to see Boko Haram and other insurgent groups dismantled in Nigeria.

“On behalf of the American people, I extend our warmest greetings and congratulate you on the 59th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence,” the statement read.

“Nigeria is among our strongest partners in Africa. We share common goals of expanding trade and growing our economic relationship.

“We are allies in the global battle against terrorism, and we want to see Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa driven out of the region and other insurgencies like them dismantled.

“The United States welcomes efforts by your administration to diversify opportunities for your talented, creative, and hardworking people to the benefit of both our countries, Africa and the world.

“I am pleased that following our meeting last year, our Vice Presidents are also building on our longstanding history of cooperation.

“I wish the people of Nigeria continued success as you mark another year of independence.”

 

ECOWAS to Nigeria: Border closure not solution to your smuggling problems

Officials of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) has advised the Nigerian government to find a permanent solution to the challenge of smuggling.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the bloc said the border closure might hamper the implementation of free trade movement within the region.

Addressing parliamentarians at the ongoing 2nd extraordinary session of the ECOWAS parliament in Monrovia, Moustapha Lo, speaker of the ECOWAS parliament, requested that the Nigerian government reopens its borders.

Lo said the closure happened at a time when Africa was working to intensify efforts for the effective abolition of barriers within the member-states.

The Nigerian government had closed its borders since August with President Muhammadu Buhari saying the move was to check smuggling.

The ECOWAS parliament said the closure is a hindrance to the achievement of the regional bloc’s main objective, which includes “achieving the creation of a prosperous, borderless West African region where peace and harmony prevail”.

“The ECOWAS Parliament calls for compliance with Community provisions and thus calls for the reopening of borders and a coordinated fight against smuggling in the region,” the statement said.

“The root causes of this recurrent situation must be studied with a view to finding a permanent solution.”

 

Why corruption thrives in Nigeria — Buhari

Corruption will continue to thrive in the country when accountability is ignored, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

The president was speaking on Tuesday in Abuja at the 49th annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

Before declaring the conference open, the president said because of the damaging effects of corruption on the country’s economy, his administration was doing everything possible to curb the malaise.

Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, President Buhari said corruption and impunity grow when accountability is disregarded.

He also said “people get away with all manner of questionable things when accountants are unable to check them”.

Urging accountants to always see corruption as a gross violation of human right, he described his administration’s fight against graft as a “struggle for nation building for the future generation.”

“For the majority of our people, the millions that are in hardship, the sick, the helpless, corruption is the major reason why they cannot go to school, why we have few equipments and doctors in our hospitals,” he said.

“Corruption diverts public resources, thereby causing much suffering, deprivation and unnecessary deaths in the country.”

He said if his government does not slay corruption with the passion it deserves, the people will not get the result they need.

The president said government will continue to provide the desired leadership to the fight with the optimism that the glorious days will soon come.

“Corruption, our greatest enemy will certainly fight back. But, we must continue to fight to effect a change to our value system,” he said.

He expressed confidence that the initiative of ICAN would greatly assist government at all levels to be more transparent and accountable to the people.

Meanwhile, a former Director of the Kenyan anti-corruption agency, Patrick Lumumba, said “it appears corruption is thriving, because Nigerians are not yet tired of it.”

Mr Lumumba, who was the guest speaker at the occasion, said “the day Nigerians become tired of corrupt practices, the actions that would follow would put an end to graft in the country.”

He lamented that in a society where people celebrate those that fraudulently enrich themselves, corruption will continue to thrive.

“Corruption is a crime against humanity. Experiences have demonstrated that if a people in a country are sufficiently fed up, they will rise up.

“If we think the international community will solve our problems, then we have shown that we are incapable of solving them,” he said.

“The day Nigerians and many Africans are fed up with corruption, things will begin to change. But as long as we celebrate thieves and money, no matter how they are got, everybody don’t care about how it is got. The day we begin to get angry, the country will change within a month,” Mr Lumumba said.

Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, denied allegations that the anti-graft agency “usually sweeps corruption cases involving members of ruling party under the carpet”.

He said the biggest conviction the agency secured under his leadership were those involving two former governors: Jolly Nyame of Taraba and Joshua Dariye of Plateau.

“We are (were) created to fight corruption. The biggest conviction we have is of two governors that have been convicted. You know their political affiliations and we don’t stop cases,” he said.

He called on ICAN to continue to support the fight against corruption adding that this would help stimulate economic development.

No provision for compensation, says South African minister on xenophobia

Naledi Pandor, South African minister of foreign affairs, says there is no provision for compensating those affected in the fresh attacks in the country.

In an interview with Reuters, Pandor said her country’s laws do not have provision for such.

Last week, angry mob went on rampage in South Africa, targetting foreign nationals, including Nigerians.

Adetola Olubajo, president of the Nigerian Union in South Africa, said Nigerians lost property worth millions of dollars in the attacks.

In its response, the federal government summoned Bobby Moroe, South African high commissioner to Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari also sent a special envoy to Cyril Ramaphosa, his South African counterpart, to convey his displeasure over the attacks.

The federal government also pulled out of the ongoing World Economic Forum in South Africa and recalled its high commissioner to the country.

It also demanded that its citizens involved in the attacks should be fully compensated.

“Full compensation has to be paid because as we have discovered from previous experience, a lot of these Nigerians loss their property and it is a long drawn out process and very often are not compensated for it. But on this occasion, the Nigerian government is going to fight for full compensation and hold the government of South Africa to count,” Geofrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, said at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

The South African high commission in Nigeria suspended operations on Thursday morning following attacks on MTN, Shoprite and some South Africa-owned businesses across Nigeria.

Commenting on this, Pandor said she was in touch with Nigerian authorities to try to restore calm.

She also efforts were in place to address the unrest in South Africa.

“There is an Afrophobia we are sensing that exists, there is resentment and we need to address that,” Reuters quoted Pandor to have said.

South Africa shuts down high commission in Nigeria

The South African high commission in Nigeria has shut down operations in the country.

Lunga Ngqengelele of South Africa’s department of international relations and co-operations, told ENCA, a South African broadcaster, that the high commission is temporarily shutting down following reports of attempted attacks on it.

Ngqengelele said: “We received reports that some of the people in Nigeria and Zambia have tried to attack some of the businesses belonging to South Africans in their countries.”

“Out of safety and of course concerns for the employees of the embassy, a decision was taken that we temporarily shut down while we are assessing the situation and ensure that no one is injured in the process.”

The official said South Africa is in communication with the Nigerian government and “we have been assured of the protection of the businesses belonging to SA”.

“Nigerian police quelled the uprising from the Nigerians attacking SA business, we understand that arrests were made. We are pleased that there was no loss of life,” he added.

Many Nigerians were affected in the fresh xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

In what could be considered a reprisal, some Nigerians looted business outlets owned by South Africans including Shoprite, a retail store.

The Nigeria police force said 125 suspects have been arrested over the attacks while the inspector-general of police has ordered tight security around foreign missions and businesses.

The attacks forced Nigeria to pull out of the ongoing World Economic Forum in South Africa. The country also recalled Kabiru Bala, its high commissioner to that country.

In its initial response to the fresh attacks, the federal government summoned Bobby Monroe, South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari also dispatched a special envoy to convey to President Cyril Ramaphosa his concerns on the attacks.

Nigeria has demanded full compensation for its citizens affected in the latest attacks.

Nigeria draws Red Line for S’Africa…demands compensation

The Federal Government, on Wednesday, dismissed media reports that Nigerians were being killed in South Africa, saying only their properties and those of other nationals were being destroyed following the Xenophobic attacks in that country.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, stated this when he addressed State House correspondents after a closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Onyeama regretted that the reports had distorted the situation and impacted on the federal government response on the incident.
“Of course a lot of things have been circulating in social media which have not helped matters. Some of them have really distorted the situation and because of that have impacted in our response.

“So, number one is that the information we have from the High Commission, from the Consul General in South Africa is that no Nigerian life has been lost during this crisis.

“And I think that is very important because on social media, there is a lot of stories going around of Nigerians being killed, jumping off buildings and being burnt. This is not the case.

“What we know is that premises, shops of Nigerians have been looted and property destroyed,’’ he said.
According to Onyeama, a red line has been drawn between Nigeria and South Africa over the lingering attacks, noting that African countries have built consensus against the attacks.

“We want to assure all Nigerians that this government is determined, that red line has been drawn and that we will not cave in on this occasion.

“The South African government has to assume its responsibilities and protect Nigerians in South Africa and we have to hold them to account and they have to do that as well as pay full compensation,’’ he added.

The minister confirmed that the Ambassador of Nigeria to South Africa would soon be recalled for consultation, adding ““Enough is enough – we are going to address it once and for all this time. This is the position of government”.

Nigeria pulls out of World Economic Forum in S’Africa, ‘to recall’ high commissioner

Nigeria has pulled out of the ongoing World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, over fresh xenophobic attacks.

The country is also making plans to recall Kabiru Bala, its high commissioner to South Africa, according to a presidential source.

The source said the decisions were taken at a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, at the presidential villa in Abuja, on Tuesday.

Osinbajo was to represent Nigeria at the three-day forum ending on Friday.

In its initial response to the fresh attacks, the federal government had summoned Bobby Monroe, South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria.

Buhari also dispatched a special envoy to convey to President Cyril Ramaphosa, his concerns on the attacks.

Initially, Buhari was contemplating turning down the invitation of his South African counterpart over the violence against Nigerians in South Africa.

Ramaphosa had invited the Nigerian leader to his country on October 3 for discussions on strengthening the unity between both countries.

When both men met on the sidelines of the seventh Tokyo International Conference for Africa Development (TICAD7) in Yokohama, Japan, last week, they pledged commitment to the meeting which is now less likely to hold.

The latest incident in South Africa has sparked a nationwide outrage, with mobs invading MTN, Shoprite, PEP Stores and other South Africa-owned businesses across the country.

In Ibadan, Oyo state capital aggrieved individuals set MTN office on fire. The offices of the telecommunications giant were also attacked in Abuja and Akwa Ibom.

In Lagos, suspected hoodlums broke into a Shoprite outlet in Ajah, carting away items such as grocery, electronics and bicycles.

Nigeria restates commitment to.oil production quotas

Nigeria has reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to production adjustments agreed upon under the Declaration of Cooperation (DoC) between member countries of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Non-OPEC Countries at the last Ministerial Meeting of what is known as OPEC Plus, held on July 2, 2019, Vienna, Austria.

Nigeria’s Representatives on the OPEC Economic Commission Board and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, made this known in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to the statement signed by the OPEC Representative, Nigeria is totally committed to full compliance with the agreement reached by the parties to the DoC.

“Right now we are not only committed to the agreement but we have elevated our attitude towards it to the point of complete devotion to the adjustments and we urge other parties to follow suit,” the OPEC Rep stated.

Kyari expressed strong optimism that the momentary and artificially induced bearish trends would naturally correct itself based on the strong market fundamentals which have remained steadfast despite the price slid.

He pointed out that with a visible steady decline in commercial stock overhang propelled by healthy demand, it is only logical for all advocates of oil price stability like the OPEC Plus allies to comply strictly with the agreed production adjustments.

He concluded that with the increasing volatility of the oil market, it has become commonsensical for Nigeria and all other parties to the agreement to entrench an attitude of unwavering devotion to the deal anchored on full and timely conformity to their obligations.

Corruption fuelling insecurity in Nigeria – Forum

Citizens, civil society leaders and other stakeholders have raised “serious concerns about the escalating series of kidnappings, killings and insecurity across the country, which are clearly fuelled by years of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators,” and stated that, “only ambitious and robust anti-corruption fight can end the insecurity in the country.”

This was stated Wednesday at a townhall meeting held at the Barcelona Hotel in Abuja and organized by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in collaboration with UKaid.

Professor Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, in his paper titled Practical Strategies to Mobilise Citizens to Participate in the Fight against Corruption, said: “Corruption is the greatest obstacle to security, development and equality in the Nigerian society. Corruption affects all aspects of human endeavour and permeates all strata of the Nigerian society, starting from the government down to the average citizen.

This threatens the existence of the country as one entity by weakening institutions, rendering obsolete the rule of law, undermining good governance and impoverishing the citizenry through a diminishing economy.”

According to Akinseye-George: “The most visible impact of corruption in the Nigerian society today can be viewed through the lens of the myriad of security challenges the country has to face, which extends from the activities of bandits on almost all major road networks to insurgency in the North. Despite millions allocated to the defence sector, the average Nigerian can hardly travel inter-state without fear for one’s safety.”

He said: “One wonders what the various governors do with the security votes allocated to them every month. The fact that security votes are generally not accounted for should be no excuse to divert such funds for purposes unrelated to security.”

Hassan Hafiz Mohammed, who represented the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, said: Official oath of secrecy cannot and should never be used as a pretext by public officials not to disclose information on corruption matters within their ministries, departments and agencies.”

According to Mr Saminu Amadin, representative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC): “The fight against corruption cannot be left for government alone as the citizens have a critical role to play in preventing and combating corruption in Nigeria. We should deploy all means to fight corruption.”

Mrs R Hassan Ahmed, who represented the National Judicial Council (NJC) on her part stated that: “The Administration of Criminal Justice Act should be fully implemented by all the states, as it will help to fight corruption including in the judiciary and help to address the chronic delay in judicial processes.”

Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP deputy director, said before the group discussions: “Good governance, respect for human rights and total commitment to obey court orders are critically important to the stability and growth of Nigeria, and to preventing and combating the security challenges in many parts of the country. Federal and state governments should focus their attention on the human rights dimension of insecurity in the country, as an honest government is a basic right of all citizens.”

According to him, “Citizens bring a missing component to the anti-corruption struggle. They bring extra-institutional pressure to push for change when power holders are corrupt and are unaccountable, and when institutional channels are blocked or ineffective. Nigerians should therefore exert their collective power to get involved in the fight against corruption including cases of corruption that directly affect them.”

Oluwadare also said: “While corruption brings out the worst in people, fighting corruption can bring out the best. Citizens don’t fight corruption in the abstract. They do so to overcome poor and unaccountable governance, poverty, displacement, organized crime and other forms of oppression and injustice.”

“SERAP encourages people to speak up against corruption at all levels of government—federal, state and local government as well as against corruption involving the private sector, and the impunity that has allowed corruption to flourish. Grand and petty corruption directly affect all of us as citizens, especially the socially and economically vulnerable among us. Nigerians can contact us at info@serap-nigeria.org if they wish to become a member of the Citizens United against Corruption”, Oluwadare said.

The event was attended by Engr. T.O. Dina, the Federal Ministry of Power; Emmanuel Ochum, Ministry of Health; Akpa Benjamin, Federal Ministry of Education; Musa Matoma, Federal Ministry of Health; Hanma Mohammed, Ministry of Interior; Shamm T. Kolo Director, Surveillance and Enforcement at the Federal Competitive and Consumer Protection Commission; and Mr Ogundumu, Ministry of Education.

Others at the event included the representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, civil society and the media.

Participants at the town hall meeting agreed to join ‘Citizens United against Corruption, to which everyone can become members and contribute to the fight against corruption in the country.

Akinseye-George’s paper read in part: “The citizens who are the greatest victims must mobilize efficiently to ensure transparency and accountability in government. This will necessitate making many difficult decisions which includes changing attitude and lifestyle patterns. The question however is, are Nigerians ready to make these changes and to respect the sanctity of the rule of law even when it is inconvenient?”

“Are we ready to face the sanctions for our wrongdoing when arrested by the police rather than offering a bribe? Are we ready to say ‘no’ when asked to pay a magistrate in order to win a case? Are the youths ready to work hard in order to secure good marks rather than taking the easy but corrupt route out by patronizing miracle exams centers? Are the citizens ready to pay the correct tariffs for electricity consumed rather than engaging unauthorized electricity officials or pay bribes to compromise electricity bills?”

“Are we ready as Nigerians to report doctors and nurses of public hospitals who spend most of the time pursing private practice to the detriment of poor patients who patronize public hospitals? When the citizens become conscious of the fact that power resides with the people and where purposes are aligned then significant progress will be made in the fight against corruption.

External debt rises by $15.3bn under Buhari

The nation’s external debt stock rose by 148 per cent in almost four years of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, data from the Debt Management Office showed.

The external debt soared to $25.61bn on March 31, 2019 from $10.32bn on June 30, 2015, according to the DMO.

Eurobonds worth $10.87bn accounted for the largest chunk of the external debt, as it rose by 625 per cent from $1.5bn on June 30, 2015.

The debt owed to the World Bank rose to $8.90bn from $6.19bn in the period under review.

China, through its Export-Import Bank of China, is the third biggest lender to Nigeria with a loan of $2.55bn as of March 31, 2019, up from $1.39bn as of June 30, 2015.

Other lenders are African Development Bank ($1.25bn), African Development Fund ($834.18m), Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa ($5.88m), Export Development Fund ($59.15m), Islamic Development Bank (15.51m) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development ($176.19m).

Bilateral debts from France (Agence Française de Développement), Japan (Japan International Cooperation Agency), India Exim Banking of India and Germany (KfW) stood at $366.07m, $74.63m, $26.46m and $171.79m, respectively.

Financial and economic experts, who spoke with our correspondent in separate interviews, described the $15.3bn increase in the nation’s external debt as a cause for worry.

A former Director- General, West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management, Prof Akpan Ekpo, said the country’s debt profile had been increasing at an alarming rate.

He said, “The increase in external debt is something to worry about even though we have not exceeded the threshold and that was because we rebased our GDP. But what should worry us more is our debt servicing, which is increasing at a rate that is not comfortable. We should be cautious how we borrow, and let us know what we are borrowing for.

“I am not in support of Eurobond because it’s commercial and it has a higher rate. The World Bank and the ADB loans are flexible; if you cannot pay, you can renegotiate and the rates are lower. The multilateral institutions are better than Eurobonds because they will give you a long period of repayment. But we have to be very careful with the Chinese loans because the Chinese are very shrewd negotiators.”

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr Bismarck Rewane, said, “Part of our external reserves is borrowed money. We have borrowed but let us see the projects that the borrowings have been used to accomplish. But if they cannot show us the completed projects, then we have a problem.”

The DMO said last month that the Federal Government would borrow $2.7bn from foreign sources this year, adding that it planned to first access cheaper funding from multilateral and bilateral lenders while any balance would be raised from commercial sources, which might include securities issuance such as Eurobonds in the international capital market.

“As long as it is to finance projects, it is a good decision. But if it is to finance consumption, then we are in trouble,” Rewane said.

The nation’s external reserves stood at $45.109bn as of July 15, 2019, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

A professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Sheriffdeen Tella, who also raised concern over the significant increase in the external debt, said the government should be cautious about further borrowing.

BREAKING: Nigeria beats South Africa 2-1..through to semis

Nigeria has defeated South Africa in a gruelling match ..2-1 to qualify for the Semi Finals of the African Cup of Nations football competition holding in Egypt.

Details later

Senate demands investigation into death of CIIN boss, other Nigerians killed in South Africa

 

The Senate, on Wednesday, called on the South African government to investigate the death of Elizabeth Ndibuisi-Chukwu and other Nigerian citizens who have died in suspicious circumstances in South Africa.

The Senate also urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue travel alerts to Nigerians travelling to South Africa.

The call was made after the lawmakers deliberated on a point of order by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, on the need to investigate the death of Mrs Ndibuisi-Chukwu.

Mrs Ndibuisi-Chukwu was the Deputy Director-General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN). She was allegedly murdered at Emperor’s Palace Hotel and Convention Centre, South Africa on June 13 where she lodged.

She was attending the conference of the African Insurance Organisation (AIO). Initially, it was suspected that she died of cardiac arrest.

In his lead, Mr Abaribe said the insinuation that she died of cardiac arrest was proved wrong following the autopsy report released on June 20 by the South African Department of Home Affairs which indicated in a death certificate that the death was unnatural and suspected to be murder.

He said the suspicion that she could have been murdered was further confirmed in a separate document issued by the South Africa, Department of Health on June 27 where it corroborated the autopsy report and revealed that she was strangled.

“In a curious twist, the hotel allegedly was reluctant to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies to unravel the circumstances surrounding her death. This is not the first time Nigerians have died in suspicious circumstances in South Africa,” he said.

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Lawmakers who took turns to condemn the incident stressed the need for prompt investigation. Some senators also suggested that the South African Ambassador and the Nigerian Consulate be summoned for an explanation.

Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra) urged the Senate to invite representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain how much investigation has been done. He also asked the Senate to send a “strongly-worded” letter to the South African government seeking details of Nigerians that have been killed in the country.

On his part, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, recalled that a similar issue was debated in the eight Senate and an ad-hoc committee sent to visit South Africa with a message that Nigeria as a country was tired of the killings.

“We believe that the relationship between the two countries must be better. There must be respect for each other.

“South African businesses flourish more than most Nigerian businesses. South Africans are safe and are protected in Nigeria. There is no need for any South African to take the life of a Nigerian or any citizen. Nigeria is a frontline state. We deserve respect and understanding.

“Our next set of contingents in the Pan-African Parliament must ensure that this issue is brought to the fore. We don’t take the law into our hands in the word of retaliation but we should not be taken for granted. We have taken these killings for too long and we are not going to take it anymore,” he said.

The Senate commended the federal government for its prompt action in seeking South Africa’s explanation of the death of Mrs Ndubuisi and urged the government not to relent in its efforts to unravel the circumstances of her unfortunate demise.

Nigeria beat Cameroon 3-2, qualify for quarter-finals

Odion Ighalo scored twice and teed up Alex Iwobi’s winning goal as Nigeria eliminated defending Africa Cup of Nations champions Cameroon after a thrilling 3-2 victory in Alexandria on Saturday.

China-based forward Ighalo bundled home a scrappy opener but Clarence Seedorf’s Cameroon hit back through Stephane Bahoken and Clinton Njie with two quick-fire goals before half-time.

Nigeria drew level as Ighalo volleyed in his second just past the hour and he then turned provider to play in Iwobi to steer home three minutes later and set up the prospect of a highly anticipated quarter-final clash with hosts and favourites Egypt.

AFCON 2019: INigeria faces Cameroon in round of 16

Nigeria will confront Cameroon in one of the Round of 16 matches of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations finals ongoing in Egypt.

Nigeria who finished second will now meet second placed Ghana from Group F in Alexandria on Saturday by 5pm Nigeria time.

This fixture was accomplished on Tuesday evening after a 0-0 draw with Benin Republic, and Ghana’s 2-0 defeat of Guinea Bissau.

Cameroon defeated Nigeria in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1984, 1988 and 2000, but most painful for the Super Eagles was that agonizing penalty shoot-out loss in front of home fans at the National Stadium, Lagos on February 13, 2000.

In 2004, Jay Jay Okocha spearheaded a sweet 2-1 defeat of then Cup holders (as they are now) Cameroon in a quarter final match at the Stade Mustapha Ben Jannet in Monastir, Tunisia.

In the 2018 FIFA World Cup African qualifying series, the Super Eagles lashed the Lions 4-0 in Uyo and were forced to a 1-1 draw in Yaounde.

Nigeria and Cameroon share eight African titles between them.

While the Indomitable Lions have won five times (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002 and 2017), Nigeria were champions in 1980, 1994 and 2013.

Saturday’s game is indeed a titanic battle, and the Super Eagles would be expected to pick themselves up from Sunday’s stunning defeat by Madagascar and battle the bitter rivals the way they should.

Uproar as UK agency says Nigerians respect wealthy prostitutes

The Home Office, a UK ministerial department responsible for immigration, says trafficked women from Nigeria who get wealthy from prostitution are held in high esteem upon their return to the country.

In the June edition of its country policy on the trafficking of women in Nigeria, it said: “Nigeria is a source, transit and destination country for the trafficking of women and girls for forced labour and sexual exploitation”.

Making reference to the 2018 UK annual report on modern slavery published by the Home Office, it said Nigeria is the 5th most common country of origin of potential victims of modern slavery.

It said while the victims are subjected to reprisals when they return home, those who get wealthy “enjoy high social-economic status”.

The statement irked members of parliament and anti-trafficking/anti-slavery activists in the UK who berated the department, asking it to tender an apology.

“Some female victims of trafficking who return to Nigeria may be subject to reprisals or re-trafficking, particularly those who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation and have an outstanding debt to traffickers,” the report read.

“The person’s family may also be subject to intimidation, threats and attacks. In some cases, a person’s family or community may have been complicit in the trafficking or put pressure on them to pay any outstanding debt or provide an income, which may raise the risk of her being re-trafficked. A person may also be shunned by her family and experience societal discrimination and stigmatisation.

“However trafficked women who return from Europe, wealthy from prostitution, enjoy high social-economic status and in general are not subject to negative social attitudes on return. They are often held in high regard because they have improved income prospects.”

But Charlotte Proudman, a human rights lawyer, said home office’s report is different from what she has seen while defending women in immigration courts.

According to her, most of the women are destitute and are often rejected by their family, while asking home office to issue an apology.

“The Home Office’s deplorable policy on the trafficking of women in Nigeria shows the hostility that women victims face in claiming asylum in the UK. Suggesting that trafficked women are wealthy and enjoy a [high] socioeconomic status is fundamentally wrong,” The Guardian quoted her as saying.

“The women that I represent in immigration courts often suffer from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and are always destitute. They have usually been raped repeatedly and beaten and their family have disowned them. Some even face the risk of violent reprisals on return home. The abuse they experience is akin to slavery.

“The picture painted by the Home Office is far from reality and serves only to further myths about prostitution and sex trafficking. The policy will no doubt encourage decision-makers on behalf of the home secretary to refuse even more asylum claims.

“The Home Office needs to issue an apology and immediately amend the policy.”

AFCON 2019: Madagascar beat Nigeria to top group B

Madagascar pulled off one of the great shocks of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after defeating the Super Eagles of Nigeria to finish top of group B.

The newcomers, who had never scored against the Super Eagles, defeated the three-time champions 2-0 on Sunday at the Alexandria Stadium to advance to the knockout stages.

The Super Eagles had the bigger share of possession and had an effort on goal in the early stages.

Odion Ighalo was fouled metres away from the box. Ahmed Musa took the free kick which went off target.

The Indian Ocean islanders raced in front after a mix up at the back in the 12th minute. Leon Balogun was slow to John Ogu’s diagonal pass and Lalaina Nomenjanahary stole the ball, rounded past goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa before firing to the empty net.

The Eagles surged forward in numbers and searched for the equalizer. Samuel Kalu tried a shot from the edge of the box but his effort went inches wide.

Musa also wasted the chance to equalize. Oghenekaro Etebo stole the ball near the Madagascar box, his pass found Ahmed Musa who couldn’t score.

It was 1-0 in favour of Madagascar at halftime.

Madagascar scored their second goal from a free kick in the 52nd minute through Carolus Andriamatsinoro.

Substitute Wilfred Ndidi tried a shot from inside the box but the goalkeeper saved it.

Madagascar finished top of the group in their first ever appearance at the AFCON while Nigeria qualified as runners-up.