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Economy

$18b: MTN seeks fair deal

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…N5b limit for presidential bid spending***

Telecoms firm MTN is holding talks with Nigerian officials to find a “mutually acceptable solution” to the dispute over the alleged transfer of $8.1 billion, the firm said yesterday in a statement from Johannesburg.

It said further announcement on the issue would be made in due course, advising “shareholders to continue to exercise caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a further announcement is made.”

MTN and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are in a dispute over the transfer of $8.1 billion which the bank said the company had sent abroad and breaches foreign-exchange regulations.

But CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said while addressing reporters on October 7 in London that the CBN may reduce the amount it had ordered MTN Nigeria to repatriate.

Emefiele said new documents provided by the telecom company would help to reduce the size of the claim.

“I don’t think it will be staying at $8.1billion. I want to believe that the figure will reduce. Whether it will be dropped completely, I honestly cannot say at this time,” he added.

The CBN chief said the apex bank had received documents about four weeks ago from MTN and four lenders involved in the case.

The lenders are Standard Chartered, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citibank and Diamond Bank.

Emefiele said the apex bank was in communication with all parties involved.

In the meantime, senators have re-jigged and passed the Electoral Amendment Bill rejected thrice by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The bill was passed yesterday after a brief debate on the report of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which was submitted by  Committee Chairman Senator Suleiman Nazif.

The amendment pegs election expenses for a presidential candidate at N5 billion and N1 billion for a governorship candidate. A senatorial candidate cannot spend more than N250 million and a House of Representatives candidate’s limit is N100 million.

A State House of Assembly candidate should not spend more than N30 million. Candidate for chairmanship of Area Council is also limited to N30 million. A councillorship candidate must not spend beyond N5 million.

No individual or other entity shall donate to a candidate more than N10 million. Section 91(10) stipulates that a candidate, who knowingly acts in contravention of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of 1% of the amount permitted as the limit of campaign expenditure under the Act or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.

Clause 14 was introduced into the bill to amend Section 49 (4) of the Principal Act that deals with failure of the smart card reader.

The clause states: “Where a Smart Card Reader deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any polling unit and a fresh Card Reader is not deployed three hours before the close of the election in that unit, the election shall not hold but be rescheduled and conducted within 24 hours thereafter, provided that where the total possible votes from all the affected card readers in the unit or units does not affect the overall result in the constituency or election concerned, the commission shall notwithstanding the fact that a fresh card reader is not deployed as stipulated, announce the final results and declare a winner.”

Clause 24 was also introduced to amend Section 87 (13) of the Principal Act, which deals with the issue of deadline for primary elections: ”The dates of the primaries shall not be earlier than 150 days and not later than 90 days before the date of the election to the elective offices.”

“The same section also stipulates a specific period within which political party primaries are required to be held since the unintended consequences of leaving lNEC with only nine days to collate and compile lists of candidates and political parties for the various elections. This is because the earlier Electoral Act Amendment Bill did not properly amend Sections 31, 33 and 85 of the principal Act that stipulates times for submission of lists of candidates, publication of lists of candidates, notice of conventions and congresses for nominating candidates for elections,” the report said.

Also, Clause 32 was introduced to amend Section 140 (4) of the Principal Act that deals with the omission of a candidate’s name or a political party’s logo.

The clause states: “If at the point of display or distribution of ballot papers by the commission a candidate or his agent discovers that his name, the name or logo of his party is omitted, a candidate or his agent shall notify the commission and the commission shall postpone the election to rectify the omission; and appoint another date to conduct the election, not later than 90 days.

“Where the election is postponed due to omission of a political party’s name or logo, the commission’s officer responsible for such printing of party names or logo commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for two years or a fine of N2,000,000.00 or both.”

According to the lawmakers, the new amendment is meant to, among others, “provide for the use of Card Readers and any other similar technological devices in conducting elections; to provide a time line for the submission of list of candidates as rightly captured in Section 31 (6) and 85 (l) of the Bill; to identify criteria for substitution of candidates, limit campaign expenses; and to address noticed problems related to the omission of names of candidates or logo of political parties”.

The Senate agreed with the Nazif report that all the issues raised by President Buhari for declining assent to the bill had been addressed in the adopted report.

In passing the bill, the Senate had restricted the amendment to the particular areas  objected to by the president.

Commenting on the latest amendment, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba South) hoped that the President would not send the bill back to the legislature again.

He urged the President to assent to the bill, saying that acting contrary would send the wrong signal to the public.

Senate President Bukola Saraki hailed the committee for its good job, saying that the amended bill, if signed into law, would go a long way in strengthening the nation’s electoral laws.

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Economy

Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu Urges Sacrifice, Integrity For National Rebirth

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Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu urges sacrifice, integrity for national rebirth

 President Bola Tinubu has urged Nigerians to continue to make sacrifices and exhibit integrity for national development.

Tinubu said this after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Eid Ground at Dodon Barracks on Wednesday in Lagos.

The President also called on Nigerians to continue to have faith in his government and remain patriotic citizens.

Tinubu said that the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration, aimed at bringing prosperity to Nigerians, was being diligently implemented.

Encouraging Muslims to extend the values of sacrifice and resilience beyond the fasting period, Tinubu emphasised the need for Nigerians to prioritise the exhibition of love for their country.

‘’The resilience and sacrifice that we have shown and made during these months should be preserved.

“Be a kind and cheerful giver. We must love our country more than any other country because this is the only one we have.

‘’We must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The Renewed Hope Agenda is alive, well and fine, and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful. Without hope, there is no salvation.

“Without hope, there is no development. Without hope, there is no life. Eid Mubarak,’’ the President said at the end of the prayers led by the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla.

Earlier in his sermon, the Chief Imam urged Nigerians to shun all acts of violence, ensure peaceful co-existence, and continue to have faith in the country.

He asked those in leadership positions to remain faithful to their oaths of office and work towards alleviating the suffering of the less privileged.

‘‘Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Gaza and other areas of conflict,’’ the Chief Imam said.

He offered prayers of God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection for the President and the Lagos State government, as well as for peace and stability in the country.

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Economy

Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

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Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta), on Wednesday, disclosed that he had secured the release of four family members involved in manufacturing arms at the Onicha-Olona Illegal Arms Factory in Delta.

Nwoko representing Delta North Senatorial District, who disclosed this in an interview in Abuja, said that the release of the four persons was through collaborative efforts.

On March 12, troops of 63 Brigade, Asaba, uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Onicha-Olona, Delta North Senatorial District and arrested eight family members in connection with the crime.

Nwoko disclosed that efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“Following my recent visit to the headquarters of 63 Brigade, Asaba and productive discussions with the Brigade Commander, I am pleased to announce progress in addressing the situation regarding the illegal arms factory discovered in the Onicha-Olona community, Delta.

“Efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“I am pleased to reveal that through collaborative efforts, I have successfully secured the release of four family members implicated in the illegal activity.

“However, our commitment to upholding the law remains unwavering, and endeavours continue for fair judgment and potential pardon for the remaining four individuals,” he said.

The lawmaker stressed that the underlying issue highlighted by the discovery, however, remained of paramount importance.

“We must seize the opportunity to redirect the talents demonstrated by those involved towards lawful and productive endeavours.

“The young man in the family, known for his passion and ability to build drones, exemplifies this potential.

“His skills should be harnessed and put to good use,” he said.

Nwoko added that the Industrial Revolution served as a pertinent historical precedent where individual efforts catalysed transformative change and made possible by governments that created conducive environments.

“We can emulate this model here. We can provide support and opportunities for talented individuals like the young drone builder, and stimulate a new wave of innovation and economic growth in Nigeria.

“As previously stated, Nigeria’s economy faces significant challenges exacerbated by escalating imports, particularly in the realm of arms and weaponry.

“Therefore, we must harness our indigenous talents for the greater good and bolster our local industries,” he said.

Nwoko further said that the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology, have crucial roles to play in this regard.

According to him, by engaging with individuals possessing such skills, we can offer them legal avenues for their expertise to flourish.

“The aim is not only to prevent the proliferation of illegal arms or other weapons manufacturing but also to channel these talents towards legitimate industries for national development.

“I reiterate the need for the government to support and integrate such offenders with specialised skills and talents into the formal economy.

“This initiative should focus on recognising their capabilities and providing opportunities for them to contribute to the development of our local indigenous technology.

“As noted earlier, an individual capable of modifying an AK-47 magazine, originally designed to hold 30 rounds, to accommodate 60 rounds using rudimentary equipment, holds immense potential for greater achievements.

”Such individual can do more with proper legal support and access to adequate resources.”

He disclosed that he was committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partnering with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.

“I am committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partner with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.”

“They have the intelligence and insights of the potential beneficiaries of this “amnesty” drive towards creating a new cadre of indigenous technologists.

“This law would establish an agency dedicated to providing government support and resources to rehabilitate and engage these individuals in legal and productive activities.

“I tentatively suggest naming this proposed law the “National Talent Rehabilitation and Integration Act”.

“This legislation will not only focus on rehabilitation but also on harnessing the skills and talents of offenders for the benefit of society.

“By providing a structured environment and necessary support, this agency will facilitate the transition of individuals from illicit activities to lawful and productive ventures.

”And they will be contributing to both their personal rehabilitation and national development,” Nwoko added.

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Economy

NGX Market Capitalisation Gains N836bn

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Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

…Tantalizers, NASCON lead the losers’ chart 

The Nigerian Exchange Ltd.(NGX) market capitalisation, which opened at N57.697 trillion on Tuesday, gained N836 billion or 1.45 percent closing at N58.533 trillion.

Also, the All-Share Index rose by 1.45 percent or 1,480 points to close at 103,524.44, as against 102,044.84 recorded on Monday.

As a result, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return rose to 38.45 percent.

Interest in Telco heavyweight and Tier-one banks such as MTN Nigeria, UBA, Access Corporation, Guaranty Trust Holding Company(GTCO), and sustained interest in Transcorp Power(TransPower) kept the market in the green.

Market breadth closed positive with 35 gainers and 14 losers.

On the gainer’s chart, UBA led in percentage terms of 10 to close at N25.30, followed by MTN by 9.98 percent to close at N243.50 per share.

Julius Berger also gained 9.71 percent to close at N61, While Access Corporation rose by 9.51 percent to close at N22.45 per share.

Veritas Kapital Assurance went up by 9.38 percent to close at 70k per share.

Conversely, Tantalizers led the loser’s chart by 7.89 percent to close at 35k, and National Salt Company of Nigeria(NASCON) trailed by 6.77 percent to close at N53.70.

Morison Industries Plc shed 6.62 percent to close at N1.41, C&I Leasing lost 6.45 percent to close at N3.48, while Cutix Plc dropped 6.30 percent to close at N2.53 per share.

However, analysis of the market activities showed trade turnover settled lower, relative to the previous session.

The value of transactions was also down by 16.76 percent.

A total of 565.79 million shares valued at N14.23 billion were exchanged in 11,519 deals,  compared to 436.90 million shares valued at N17.09 billion exchanged in 11,344 deals traded on Monday.

On the activity chart, Transcorp led in volume with 170.72 million shares traded at a value of N3.13 billion, Access Corporation followed by 48.57 million shares valued at N1.06 billion.

GTCO sold 39.04 million shares worth N165.80 million, Jaiz Bank traded 36.78 million shares valued at N72.51 million and UBA transacted 31.96 million shares valued at N796.24 million

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