- As Three Russians jump bail over Illegal’ crude oil deal
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said about $40 billion was depleted from the nation’s external reserves in 10 years due to the taste for imported goods by Nigerians. The bank urged Nigerians to begin to process raw materials so as to get more value and earn more foreign exchange.
Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, said “exported raw materials such as crude, wood, cocoa amongst others whose end products are later imported, are being sold cheaply and bought back at more expensive rates.” He said the level of the external reserve will be significantly beefed up if fuel, which takes up 20 per cent of Nigeria’s import bill, is locally produced.
Defending the decision of the CBN to support the real sector, Emefiele said the apex bank “is convinced that the sector has sufficient employment capabilities, high growth potentials, contributes significantly in accretion to foreign reserves, expands the industrial base and diversify the growth potentials of the economy.”
Emefiele said Nigerians must, by now have been tired of hearing people talk about the potentials of Nigeria, adding that now is the time to live that dream.
“We can achieve our goals and give Nigerians the chance to live longer, better and more fulfilled lives,” he said.
To make this possible, the CBN governor appealed “to Nigerians to patronise locally made products to encourage the manufacturers to remain in business, interventions by the bank are centered around agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Infrastructure intervention.”
The CBN governor also disclosed that in order to make the real sector attractive to the banking industry, the apex bank has injected over N1.3 trillion into the sector.
Speaking at the annual finance corespondent sand business editors seminar in Ibadan yesterday, Emefiele said the desire to revive and stimulate credit to the real sector was what informed the bank’s efforts to pump such huge amount of financial resources into the real sector.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Adebayo Adelabu, Emefiele noted that by injecting funds and subsidising rates, and through relevant policies, the CBN has assisted in growing the economy and promoting the growth of the different sectors of their economies.
According to Emefiele, the interventions that culminated in the over N1.3 trillion support for the real sector include “the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF),the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), the Agricultural Credit Support Scheme (ACSS), the N300 billion Real Sector Support Facility (RSSF), the N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), the Small and Medium Enterprises Refinancing and Restructuring Facility (SMERRF), the N75 billion Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the N213 billion Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Fund and only recently, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme launched by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The CBN is also supporting the Nigeria Export Import Bank (NEXIM) with N50 billion export refinancing and restructuring facility as well as N500 billion as non-oil export stimulation facility.
“If you add all these it is in excess of N1 trillion that have been deliberately injected into the system to ensure that they are fully resuscitated and they become attractive for commercial banks” Emefiele said.
In the meantime, three Russians among 14 foreigners accused of dealing in crude oil without licence have jumped bail, the Federal High Court in Lagos heard yesterday.
Justice Ibrahim Buba issued a bench warrant for their arrest.
He also revoked the bail granted the other accused persons.
Among the accused are Russians, Ukrainians, Japanese and English, namely Artur Pakhladzhian, Sergo Abbgarian, Vasily Shkundich, Vitaliy Bilours, Hlarion Regipor, Laguta Oleksiy, Cadavis Gerarado, Kretov Andry, Badurian Benjamin, Chepikov Olksan, Naranjo Antero, Patro Christian, Alcayde Joel and Caratiquit Beyan.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged them after they were arrested by the Navy, which last March 27 intercepted their vessel, MT Anukpet Emerald.
The vessel was laden with crude oil estimated at 1,738.087 metric tonnes.
Parties were to adopt their written addresses yesterday, but defence counsel Babajide Koku (SAN) said the fourth, sixth and 11th defendants could not be found.
He said he contacted the Russian Embassy, but was told it did not know the accused person’s whereabouts.
“As we speak, I do not know the whereabouts of the three. And it’s highly embarrassing to say this, my Lord,” Koku said.
The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, prayed the court to order their arrest and to revoke the bail granted the others.
Koku said: “The application for their arrest is definitely meritorious to secure their attendance.”
He, however, pleaded that the sins of the three Russians should not be visited on the others by revoking their bail.
Justice Buba held that since the three, who jumped bail, were leaders of the crew, not revoking the others’ bail would be risky.
He, therefore, cancelled the bail granted the others and ordered that all accused persons be remanded in prison custody.
Justice Buba said the bank, which posted a bail bond for them, should explain why it should not lose the N150 million now that the three accused persons have fled.
The prosecution said they violated Section 4 of the Petroleum Act, Cap 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the four counts when they were arraigned and were granted N50 million bail each.
The foreigners were also charged with dealing in 1,500 metric tons of Automated Gas Oil as well as 3,035 metric tons of Low Pour Fuel Oil without lawful authority.
Justice Buba adjourned till February 16.