Category Archives: Money

Paris Club Debt: Outrage as Group faults planned payment of $350 million by FG to consultants

By Lucas Destiny

The move by the federal government to pay the consultants, who work for the states to reclaim the refund from the Paris Club loan, has drawn the anger of the South South Buhari Anti-corruption Group.

The group recalled that the previous governments of Olusegun Obasanjo, Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan didn’t pay because of the huge amount involved and also because the whole process was not clear enough.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had ordered for the payment of $350 million standing in favour of consultants, who worked for states to reclaim the sum of $2,689,279,365 as final payment arising from the refund of Paris Club loans.

The South South Buhari Anti-corruption Group, has, however frowned at this move by the federal government, questioning the rationale behind the payment of such huge amount.

The anti-corruption group, in a statement by its President, Imafidon Peter Odion, expressed that the move is suspicious, pointing out that the rush to pay the consultants should be investigated.

The group said that for the previous governments not to have paid means that there are things that are not right in the whole process.

The anti-corruption group said: “For this government to expressly put modalities in place to pay the consultants, which the previous governments didn’t pay shows that there are things some persons are hiding from the public.

“The anti-corruption agencies should beam their lights on the payment of this money to the consultants. They should ensure that this nation is not defrauded by few gullible persons.

“The speed at which things are been put together to expressly pay this money is suspicious and it should be investigated so that few shouldn’t benefit at the expense of the nation.”

Crypto Whale Predicts New Bitcoin All-Time High in April

Crypto analyst Michaël van de Poppe is charting Bitcoin’s short-term trajectory, as the flagship currency bounces back after a dive to the low $50,000 range this week.

In a new video, the analyst who nailed the timing of Bitcoin’s March pullback predicts that BTC’s current rally will likely stop at the $58,500 level.

“What is critical right now based on the daily timeframe is this entire region here, so anything above [$58,500] is going to bring markets to new all-time highs.

Is that expected? I’m not expecting it at this stage in which I’m assuming that we’re going to have a range bound construction.”

On the lower timeframe, Van de Poppe notes that Bitcoin is facing clear resistance at $56,200 and is attempting to find support at $54,100.

The trader warns that if the $54,000 range fails to act as support for BTC, the king coin will likely retest the $50,000 level over the course of the next week and may even move down towards $48,500 temporarily.

If the flagship cryptocurrency does bottom out towards the low $50,000 range, it will likely make room for a longer altseason.

“At least the altseason is going to last way longer or continue if Bitcoin is bottomed out.”

As for Ethereum, the analyst’s chart shows the second largest crypto asset ranging until mid-April when it will again continue its climb toward new highs.

The critical level for ETH to hold is $1,660 and if that fails, $1,500, says Van de Poppe. If Ethereum breaks out earlier than the trader expects, it will have to surge above the $1,750 level to retest its all-time high of $2,042.

Ibori Loot: We’ve Written A Formal Letter Of Protest To Buhari – Okowa

The Delta State Government has asked the Federal Government to return the £4.2 million James Ibori loot being repatriated to Nigeria by the United Kingdom to the state.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa believes that since the money was stolen from the state, it would only be just to return the funds back to the state.

“I have spoken with the attorney-general of the federation. My attorney-general went to have a meeting with him. I think that we are working and we are likely to come on the same page. We have written a formal letter of protest to Mr President,” the Governor said on Wednesday during an appearance on Politics Today.

The protest by the state is in reaction to the decision of the Federal Government to spend the funds on federal projects.

Nigeria and the UK had signed a memorandum of understanding on March 9 for the repatriation of the funds stolen by Ibori, a former Delta State.

But the development became mired in controversy shortly after the MoU was signed when the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed the money will be spent by the Federal Government.

The projects it will be spent on, he said, were the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Two Options

Governor Okowa, however, expects the Federal Government to take a similar route as the UK Government by returning the money to the source it was pilfered from.

“In the same manner of the relationship created between the UK and Nigeria, we also expect that the Nigerian Government will do the same thing by being magnanimous to return the money back to the source, which is Delta State,” he said.

To guarantee that Deltans benefit from the repatriated loot, the governor said it had provided options to the Federal Government and made a compelling case for the state.

“We have made two suggestions; return the money directly to us or apply it directly to projects that we feel are of importance and are in Delta State so that Deltans can directly benefit from the repatriated funds and I don’t think anybody can fault that line (of thinking)”, he said.

The governor is not alone in his position.

A day after the news of the planned return of the loot broke, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the Federal Government to ensure that it was returned to Delta State.

Lawmakers passed the resolution after their colleagues from the state moved a motion of urgent public importance.

As far as they were concerned, the funds were stolen from the state and should be returned to it.

Ibori, who was Delta State Governor from 1999 to 2007, was convicted by a UK court in 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years in jail with several of his assets forfeited to the UK Government. He was released in 2016.

Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana also backed the calls for the return of the funds to the state.

He commended the Federal Government for negotiating and pursuing the return of the loot to Nigeria but insisted that it be returned to the source.

“Since the money left the coffers of the Delta State Government, it has to be returned once it is recovered,” Falana said during an appearance on Politics Today.

The attorney-general of the federation, however, has a different argument.

“The major consideration relating to who is entitled to a fraction or perhaps the money in its entirety is a function of law and international diplomacy,” Mr. Malami told Channels TV of the Federal Government’s decision.

“All the processes associated with the recovery were consummated by the federal government and the federal government is, indeed, the victim of crime and not sub-national.”

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, says the Ibori loot will be spent on, the construction of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Ultimately, Governor Okowa believes President Muhammad Buhari will grant the state’s request as that is the right thing to do.

“I do believe that with the approach that we have undertaken it is unlikely that they will refuse the request. It is a strong appeal,” he said.

The governor rubbished claims that if the money is returned to Delta State “it will develop wings”.

“I don’t see how the money will develop wings anyway,” he said. “That is why we have directly put down projects – three projects where this money can be applied directly to such a manner that it is something you can investigate.

Channels TV

How APC leaders frittered away N15 trillion under Buhari–PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Wednesday chided the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, over what it called the ruling party’s attempt to cover some of its leaders who siphoned and frittered over N15 trillion from the national coffers, instead of advising President Muhammadu Buhari to recover the looted funds from them.

In a statement signed by Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesman of the party, the PDP said the alleged cover up “is a classical case of corruption in the APC fighting back and justifying its loathsome activities.”

The statement read: “Since the APC has now turned itself into the mouthpiece in defence for the stolen N15 trillion, our party invites Nigerians to also hold the Mai Buni-led APC leadership accountable for this humongous treasury looting, which is responsible for escalated unemployment, collapse of infrastructure and hardship in our nation.”

“PDP asserts the shameful attempt by the APC National Caretaker Committee to justify and provide cover for looters in their party at a time over 40 million Nigerians have lost their means of livelihood, with many more living in abject poverty because of the unbridled widespread looting by APC leaders, further confirms that the APC is an irredeemable citadel of corruption.

“It is not surprising that the Governor Mai Mai Buni-led APC leadership has become the mouthpiece for the treasury looters in their party, whose conduct has brought our nation to its knees in the last five years.

“We invite the new spokesperson in the APC to answer to the leaked NNPC official memo which detailed how a whooping N9.3 trillion was stolen by alleged APC leaders as well as the reported N1.1 trillion worth of crude allegedly stolen with 18 unregistered ship belonging to certain APC leaders.

“This is in addition to the reports in the public space of over N3 trillion stolen from various agencies including the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the Social Investment Programmes where the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, exposed that N500 billion was siphoned as well as the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA)l, in which a very top APC government official was indicted.

“The APC spokesperson should answer the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, over its recent report that unemployment had escalated to an alarming 33.3 per cent under the corrupt and treasury looting APC administration; a revelation that shows that claims of massive job creation by the deceptive APC are mere statistic hoax.

“Furthermore, the APC mouthpiece should respond to reports by credible international bodies such as Transparency International (TI) that corruption in Nigeria has worsened under the APC, with our nation falling 13 places in the corruption index since 2015 under the watch of their “Mr. Integrity”

“It is clear that the APC is seeking ways to cover the looting of N15 trillion belonging to our nation as Nigerians are clamoring for the investigation of the indicted APC leaders and recovery of the money.”

High expectations as Eastern rail project takes off

The ground-breaking of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri narrow gauge line, otherwise known as the Eastern rail, this morning would go down as the continuation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ambitious’ mandate to link all parts of the country by rail, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE

Finally, the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, will today bring the dividends of democracy closer home, as he, on behalf of his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, performs the ground breaking of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway project.

The Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project with a construction time of 36 months estimated at about 1,000 kilometres, is expected to cost $3billion, with the Federal Government obligated to pay only 15 percent counterpart funding.

Instructively, the project is coming with two new elements – the link to the Bonny Deep seaport and the Railway Industrial Park – to be located in Port Harcourt.

The project, which would be executed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, (CCECC), had been approved since September, to link Port Harcourt on the Atlantic Coast, southsouth, to Maiduguri, on the border with chad, on northeast Nigeria.

Amaechi, who broke the news to reporters during his routine inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project, expressed happiness that at last his people would be happy that the railway is, at least, coming closer home.

The minister added that two new spurs (branch lines) may be added to the project to link Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital and Akwa, the Anambra State capital, thereby achieving the dream of linking the Southeast capitals by rail system.

He clarified that the ground breaking entailed only the take-off of front end engineering procedures including engineering designs and planning, after which the actual construction is expected to begin.

On the viability of the corridor, Amaechi said though the Lagos-Kano rail could move 30 million tons of cargo; when completed, the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line would move 11 million tons of cargo.
He said: “When we complete the railways, there are certain cargoes that will no longer be allowed on the roads.
“This is to encourage the movement of cargo on the rail lines and to ensure that our roads are preserved.
“Moving cargo across the country through rail would be cheaper and faster than the roads.”

The Global Construction Review, a website of the Chartered Institute of Building, quoted the minister as saying last year, that the Federal Executive Council has approved the award of contracts for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow-gauge railway, with new branch lines and transshipment infrastructure. These are the construction of a deep-sea port in Bonny and a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt.
According to the website, the minister said the reconstruction of the railways would cost around $3billion. The industrial park is expected to cost $240million and the port $480 million.

These last two projects would be developed as public–private partnerships “at no cost to the federal government”.

The port at Bonny will have a rail connection to the Port Harcourt line. Others will be built to Owerri, the Imo State capital, and Kafanchan in Kaduna State.

The Eastern rail line project was started by the British colonialists from Port Harcourt to Enugu, 243 km between 1914 and 1916, from Enugu it extended to Makurdi 223km from 1916–1924, and from Kaduna to Kafranchan 179 km 1924-1927, and Kafranchan to Jos, 101 km from 1924 -1927.
For about 31 years, 1927 -1957 there was a lull in railway development until 1958, when the rail line was extended from Kafanchan to Bauchi in 1961, 238 kms and, ultimately, to Maiduguri 302 kms from 1963 to 1964.

This development, in addition to the western narrow gauge rail line, brought the nation’s total narrow gauge assets to 2,505 and track kilometres to 4,332 managed by the Nigerian Railway Corporation.

From its peak of glory, regarded as the golden age of the early ‘60s, the railway fell into stormy waters, because there were no comprehensive maintenance provision for the narrow gauge, and the corporation went into bankruptcy.

The corporation existed in fits and starts until 2002, when the government birthed the 25-year strategic vision for the railway, which favoured the modernisation of the rail system with the construction of the standard gauge.

The vision has three phases: Phase One; system transition from 2002 to 2007, entails the transition of the narrow gauge rehabilitation which narrow gauge functions effectively and become attractive to concessionaires. Phase two includes system modernisation from 2007 to 2015, and both phases are being implemented concurrently and because of some delays in budgetary allocation and implementation, which involves the construction of new standard gauge infrastructure and the attraction of private investment and modernisation of operations and increasing local technological capacity.
Phase Three system stabilisation 2015 to 2027. This will consolidate on the advancements of the two previous phases with the extension of new routes to reach all the state capitals and commercial centres and effective commercialisation of rail operations and development of high speed lines with optimal efficiency.

The Port Harcourt narrow gauge rail line would have been in total comatose but for skeletal services being provided by the NRC between Port Harcourt and Calabar, which has been suspended due to COVID-19 and loss of tracks.

In May 2010, former President Goodluck Jonathan launched an ambitious rail rehabilitation project meant to see the rail network rehabilitated. One of the lines identified for immediate rehabilitation was the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri corridor, which was partitioned into three contracts, the 463 km Port Harcourt- Makurdi, which collapsed and was abandoned, in need of reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Logistics stakeholders said the rehabilitation of the rail corridor would unleash huge economic potential of the areas and support economic diversification and job creation.

The Nation

Court discharges, acquits couple accused of operating ‘wonder’ bank

A Federal High Court in Enugu, on Wednesday discharged and acquitted Patrick Nwokike and his wife, Rosemary of allegations of operating a “wonder” bank.

Delivering judgment, Justice R. O. Dugbo-Oghoghorie, held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to prove its case against the couple and their firm, “Let’s Partner With You”.

The judge held that in criminal proceedings, the burden lay on the prosecution to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt as against beyond every shadow of doubt.

The judge, therefore, resolved all the issues on a four-count charge preferred against the defendants by the EFCC in favour of the defendants.

However, the court held that non of the witnesses presented by the prosecution was able to establish that the defendants were either operating a banking business or invited the public to deposit money.

“The law provides that for a business to constitute banking business by receiving deposits, the cash deposit must have been received on current account, savings account or other similar account,

“As regards counts one and two of the charge, the business of the defendants is not banking business as provided for under the laws upon which they are charged.

“On counts three and four, the prosecution failed to provide cogent and compelling evidence for this court to hold that the defendants made advertisements for the public to deposit cash on current account, savings account or other similar account,” Dugbo-Oghoghorie said

NBS ranks Abia third for 2020 capital inflow

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has ranked Abia State as the third state with top capital inflow in 2020.

According to NBS, “By destination, Lagos emerged as the top destination of capital investment in Nigeria with $8.3 billion, followed by Abuja, which received $1.3 billion.

“The others on the list are Abia State with relatively $56 million, Niger with $16.4 million, and Ogun with $13.4 million.

Anambra State recorded $10.2 million, Kaduna State recorded $4.03 million, Sokoto got $2.5 million and Kano got $2.4 million”.

It stated that the remaining 26 states received no foreign capital inflows the entire year.

The states include: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara States.

Another investment firm in Rivers State flees with depositors’ funds

An investment company in Igwuruta, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State has left its customers devastated after their office was found shut on Tuesday.

This came barely two months after a popular investment company in Port Harcourt, the state capital, MBA Forex Trading and Investment Limited failed to meet up with payments running into months to thousands of residents who invested with them.

The chief executive officer of the company had released a video in January this year, explaining his challenges and inability to continue with the business, saying the company will gradually liquidate, but promised that customers would be refunded their investment capital.

It was further gathered that hundreds of investors who had hoped to cash out their earnings on Monday were disappointed.

Many of the investors, most of whom are rural folks raced to the company when news of their disappearance filtered into the community.

Some held their heads with their hands, while tears flowed freely down the cheeks of many, who expressed shock at the development, as their fate hanged in the balance.

One of the affected investors, a male, said, “I invested with N100,000 and I was supposed to cash out today. I tried to contact them, but I couldn’t. I went to their office, it was shut down.

He said, “Not only me, a lot of people were there crying and regretting ever putting in their money. Their office is at Igwuruta. I am just confused; I don’t know what to do.”

On her part, a female said she used about N150, 000 from her savings to invest in the company, hoping to make enough money to support her studies.

Financial experts and agencies of government have warned against investing in suspected Ponzi schemes, saying they operate on ‘greater fool theory’ which comes up with juicy returns within a short period of time to attract unsuspecting members of the public who they term greedy.

Eholor hails emergence of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala as WTO DG, says she’s a shining light

The Global President of One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Osagie Eholor has eulogized the newly-elected Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, describing her emergence as well deserving judging by her antecedents.

In a Congratulatory Message signed by him, Eholor, expressed delight at her emergence, saying she had always been known to shine brilliantly wherever she found herself.

Eholor stated that Okonjo-Iweala’s track record of success, both in Nigeria as Finance Minister and across the world where she successfully served in various high profile positions in many global organizations and agencies, including the World Bank, stood her out as the right candidate for the job.

Eholor further commended the member-nations of WTO which, he said, put merit above sentiments in electing a very capable person for the job. He equally appreciated Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari for recognizing the great potentials in Okonjo-Iweala and nominating her for the job, noting that her emergence in the position is a huge blessing to the country.

Eholor prayed God to give Okonjo-Iweala the wisdom to deliver on her new mandate: “May God Almighty grant you the wisdom and strength to succeed in this globally powerful organization.”

Bitcoin tops $50K as major companies jump into crypto

Bitcoin’s price broke above $50,000 for the first time in history Tuesday, continuing its blistering rally as major companies appear to be warming to cryptocurrencies.

The world’s largest digital currency by market value rose more than 3% to an all-time high of $50,487 at about 7:30 a.m. ET, according to data from Coin Metrics. It later fell below the mark, trading 0.2% higher at a price of $48,760.

Bitcoin has gotten a boost from news of large firms like Tesla and Mastercard showing support for crypto. Tesla last week revealed it had bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and plans to accept the digital coin as payment for its products, while Mastercard said it will open up its network to some digital currencies. PayPal and BNY Mellon have also made big moves to support crypto.

Tesla’s use of corporate cash to buy bitcoin sparked speculation over whether other major companies would follow suit. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC last week that the company had discussed but “quickly dismissed” the idea of buying bitcoin but is considering whether to accept cryptocurrencies as payment.

These developments have led many crypto investors to believe the latest bull run is different than past rallies.

Bitcoin skyrocketed to nearly $20,000 in late 2017 before losing more than 80% of its value the following year. Bitcoin believers say that, whereas the 2017 bubble was driven by retail speculation, the current cycle is being fueled by demand from institutional investors.

“I think bitcoin is a much more stable asset class today than it was three years ago,” Michael Saylor, CEO of enterprise software firm MicroStrategy, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” program on Tuesday. “It used to be dominated by leveraged retail traders … on international markets with a lot of leverage.”

MicroStrategy and Jack Dorsey’s fintech firm Square hit the headlines last year after taking the unusual strategy of using corporate cash to purchase bitcoin.

“I think that starting in March of 2020, you saw institutions start to arrive, and I think in 2021 you’re going to see that trend continue,” Saylor added. “There’re enthusiasts for bitcoin as a medium of exchange, … but I personally believe that the compelling use case is a store of value.”

MicroStrategy has seen its share price climb more than sevenfold since it first bought bitcoin in August. The company announced Tuesday that it will offer $600 million in convertible bonds to buy more bitcoin. There has been speculation that MicroStrategy offered a blueprint for Tesla’s bitcoin purchase after an exchange between Saylor and Elon Musk on Twitter about making “large transactions” with the cryptocurrency.

Still, skeptics see bitcoin as a speculative asset and worry it may be one of the biggest market bubbles in history.

Economists like Nouriel Roubini say that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value. And a recent Deutsche Bank survey said investors view bitcoin as the most extreme bubble in financial markets.