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Ikoyi N13bn Cash: I won’t Honour Your Summon, CBN Governor Tells Reps

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                         CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele

John Ameh, Abuja

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has declined to appear before the House of Representatives to testify in the ongoing investigation into the $43.4m (about N13bn) recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The House Committee on National Security and Intelligence chaired by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Zamfara State, Mr. Aminu Sani-Jaji, is conducting the investigation.

Other sums recovered from the apartment were £27,800 and N23.2m.

The committee had thrice summoned Emefiele; the suspended Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Dr. Ayo Oke; the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu; and the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.) to testify.

The third sitting of the committee was Wednesday (yesterday).

But, like in two previous occasions, all the officials shunned the committee on Wednesday.

However, Emefiele wrote the lawmakers to say that he did not think it was appropriate for him to come because he would be in breach of the National Security Agencies Act.

In the letter, which was read out to members by Sani-Jaji, the CBN governor argued that the Act prohibited the disclosure of security information publicly.

He noted that security information was ‘classified information’, which the law barred him from releasing to the public.

The CBN governor further argued that a committee chaired by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had already investigated the cash recovery.

But the lawmakers were enraged and berated Emefiele for acting like ‘someone who lacks the capacity to differentiate between a legislature and the executive arm of government’.

Sani-Jaji stated, “This CBN governor doesn’t even know that there is something called separation of powers.”       (Punchng.com)

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Nigeria Will Exit Recession Within The Last Three Months Of This Year – Emefiele

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Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said that with the current efforts by the Federal Government to revive the country’s economy, the country should be out of recession by the third quarter of this year.

Emefiele also said the CBN would continue with its intervention in the foreign exchange market, adding that efforts by the apex bank so far had been yielding positive results.

He added that the country had started to see a downward trend in the prices of commodities, indicating a reduction in the rate of inflation.

“We are very much optimistic that by the end of the second quarter, or latest the third quarter, we should be out of recession that we are in right now,” he said.

The CBN governor said these after meeting with the leadership of the Senate in Abuja on Tuesday.

In attendance at the closed door meeting were the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Rafiu Ibrahim.

Emefiele, while briefing journalists after the meeting, said discussions were held between the apex bank and the legislature on the current state of the economy.

He said, “Actually, the Senate President invited us to come and brief the Senate leadership in a closed session and to provide some updates on the foreign exchange markets. You would have observed that in the last two months, the central bank has been involved in some form of intensive intervention in the foreign exchange market and this has fortunately resulted in a downward trend in the parallel market price of foreign exchange, from as high as N525 to a dollar to as low as N370.

“Right now, it hovers between N370 and N380. I think it’s an opportunity for me to say that we are going to continue this intervention because the reserves look very good. As I speak to you, our (external) reserves stand at above $31bn and that provides us enough of firepower or ammunition to be able to defend the currency, and we will do so with all intensity to ensure that foreign exchange is procured by everybody.

“If you want to import raw materials, you will get foreign exchange; you want to import plant and equipment, you will get foreign exchange; you want to pay school fees or you are a small business that wants to buy foreign exchange for you to import your small items, you will procure foreign exchange.”

Emefiele recalled that the CBN had last week announced a policy to encourage foreign investors in the country’s forex market.

He said, “It is the market or window that is opened for them to bring in their foreign exchange and come into the market on what we call a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis, in which case there will be no form of any price intervention by anybody, including the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Indeed, with the kind of firepower that we have, we are also going to play in that market to ensure that as the prices move on based on the managed float regime that we run, we should be able to control the price based on the willing-buyer, willing-seller basis.”

In his remarks, Ibrahim said the meeting was part of the engagements between the legislature and the executive.

He stated, “As usual, the leadership of the Senate is always engaging the most important sectors of our economy. So, we had a discussion with the Senate President and the (CBN) governor and they were briefed just like he (Emefiele) has given you an overview of the briefing.

“We have proffered more solutions, which will result in more policy directions very soon, because the major reason is for us to attract foreign direct investments so that the watchers, that is, the reserves, and the monetary aspect of the economy will be intact and the intervention will be sustainable.

“So, we are happy with what they (CBN) are doing and we have been able to proffer more solutions as usual and more suggestions. We are hopeful that by the grace of God, we will be able to sustain working together.”   (Punchng.com)

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Bank Accounts Without BVN Will Be Barred By August 1, Owners Unable To Withdraw-CBN

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Stories by Omodele Adigun

As from August 1, all customers without Bank Verification Number (BVN) linked to their bank accounts will not be allowed to make withdrawal from those accounts, says the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to the apex bank, the measure becomes necessary as the absence of a unique identifier in the banking industry is a major challenge inhibiting the effectiveness of the Know Your Customer (KYC) principle.

In a letter to all Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) by its Director, OFIs Supervision Department, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, obtained from CBN website on Monday, the apex bank stated that it has become necessary to extend the BVN enrolment to customers of OFIs, especially as some OFIs are located in the rural areas and have customers that may not have enrolled with commercial banks.

“In view of the foregoing, all OFIs are required to enroll their customers on or before July 31, 2017; conspicuously display notices sensitising customers on BVN in the banking hall; ensure that all new customers have BVN and forward to the Director, OFIs Supervision Department schedule of customers’ accounts with BVN on Auguast 7, 2017,” the circular stated.

Enumerating the benefits of BVN enrollment to both customers and the banking sector, Mrs. Martins said: “The BVN is expected to minimise the incidence of fraud and money laudering in the financial system as well as enhance financial inclusion. The BVN enrollment will support the achievement of the zero default credit targets set for the Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Department Fund (MSMEDF). It will also open opportunities for credit to millions of Nigerians without a standard means of identification.”

Going down memory lane on the history of the BVN, she stated: “To address this challenge (absence of a unique identifier) and complement the existing means of identification of customers, which include driver’s licence; international passport; National Identity Card and the Permanent Voter’s Card, the CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, launched the BVN project in February 2014. The implementation of the BVN initiative, which started with the customers of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) has been very successful. However, to avoid a broken identification link in the banking system, it has become necessary to extend the BVN enrolment to the customers of OFIs, especially as some OFIs are located in the rural areas and have customers that may not have enrolled with    (The Sun)

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Federal Government Recorded N3.2trn Deficit In 2016, Says Central Bank

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Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The Federal Government recorded a fiscal deficit of N3.21tn in its operations last year, figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria revealed.

The figures are contained in the Financial Stability Report prepared the apex and released in Abuja on Wednesday.

It stated that the fiscal deficit for the second half of the year, which was put at N1.47tn, was lower than the N1.75tn recorded in the first half of 2016.

These figures, according to the report, are also higher than the budgeted deficit of N1.1tn provided for in the second half of 2016.

The deficit, according to the CBN report, was financed through domestic sources, including issuance of government securities.

The apex bank said the fiscal stance of increased spending to address the challenges of the negative growth (recession) led to higher government expenditure in the second half of 2016.

For instance, it said the Federal Government expenditure grew by 10.3 per cent to N4.02tn in the second half, noting that this was above the N3.65tn in the first half of 2016.

It added that the expenditure figure of N4.02tn was also higher than the budgeted expenditure of N3.12tn for the second half of the year under review.

The report explained that the recurrent expenditure component of the total expenditure accounted for N3.46tn, representing 86.9 per cent; while the capital and statutory transfer components accounted for N264.9bn or 6.6 per cent and N263.4bn or 6.5 per cent, respectively.

The report stated that the Federal Government’s retained revenue for the second half of 2016 increased to N2.55tn, above the N1.89tn recorded in the first half and the half-year budget estimate of N2.2tn.

The increase in the retained revenue relative to the first half, it added, was due to increase in non-oil receipts.

A breakdown of the retained revenue showed that the Federal Government’s share of the Federation Account was N1.26tn or 49.4 per cent; Value Added Tax Pool Account, N90.7bn or 3.5 per cent; while the Federal Government Independent Revenue was put at N267.8bn or 10.5 per cent.

The report put the Federal Government’s share of the Excess Crude Account at N141.4bn (5.5 per cent); exchange gain, N316.4bn (12.4 per cent); while others, including Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation refunds, accounted for the balance of N479.3bn or 18.7 per cent.              (Punchng.com)

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Buhari Orders Fresh Paris Club Loan Refund To States |The Republican News

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Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to immediately release the second tranche of the London-Paris Club loan refund to states.

He said the presidential order should be carried out “appropriately and with dispatch.”

The President, who returned to the country on Friday from his 49-day medical vacation, also turned down advice by state governors to take more rest.

Buhari said he would not take any further rest until he had addressed all issues affecting Nigerians.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke while addressing a meeting of the National Economic Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The council, which is made up of state governors, is chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Buhari, who had earlier released the first tranche of N388bn to the state governments in December 2016, said the latest release was meant to ease their financial hardship.

He stressed the need for the state governors to ensure the settlement of unpaid salaries and pension arrears of their workers with the funds.

“I will not rest until I address those issues that affect our people.

“One of these basic things is the issue of salaries.  It is most important that workers are able to feed their families, pay rent and school fees, then other things can follow,” the President was quoted to have said.

He, however, thanked the governors for their display of “love and respect” for him.

Buhari said he was overwhelmed by his recent experience in which states, irrespective of political differences, charged their citizens to pray in mosques and churches for his well-being.

He apologised to the governors for barring them from visiting him while he was in London.

“I didn’t want government to move to London. I wanted it to remain here and I am glad it did,” he said.

After narrating what he went through while on that vacation, Buhari noted the suggestion by the governors for him to take more rest, but insisted that he would remain relentless in the pursuit of the interest of the Nigerian people at all times.

This, according to him, was the only way to show his gratitude to the people who, he said, “had given so much to me.  I was overwhelmed by the celebration of my return all across the country.”

The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara State, assured the President, on behalf of his colleagues, that they would continue to support his policies and actions which they had adjudged as being in the nation’s best interest.

The governors of Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Osun and Abia states thanked the President for saving the day for the states through the first tranche of the London-Paris Club loan refunds.

They, however, called for the immediate release of the second one.

They also commended the trust the President reposed in Osinbajo, whom they said did not disappoint when he acted as President.

Buhari had arrived the venue of the meeting chaired by Osinbajo at about 12.30pm while it was already underway.

He went round the hall to shake hands with the state governors and deputy governors standing in for their governors one after the other.

The governors also presented the President with a “get-well” card which they all signed. (Punchng.com)

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Market Gains N29bn As CBN Reviews Forex Policy |The Republican News

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CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

Stanley Opara

The Nigerian equities market appreciated by N29bn on Monday as the Central Bank of Nigeria released a new foreign exchange policy in the country with immediate effect.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange market capitalisation rose to N8.738tn from N8.709tn, while the NSE All-Share Index closed at 25,249.49 basis points from 25,164.91 basis points.

The new policy is the outcome of the last Thursday’s directive by the National Economic Council for immediate review to stem the widening gap between the inter-bank foreign exchange and parallel market rates.

The CBN said in order to ease the difficulties encountered by Nigerians in obtaining funds for foreign exchange transactions, it would henceforth be providing direct additional funding to banks to meet the needs of Nigerians for personal and business travel, medical needs, and school fees, with immediate effect.

The equities market started the week on a positive note, advancing by 0.34 percent, to settle the year-to-date return at -6.05 per cent. There were  10 gainers and 18 losers.

A total of 110.016 million shares worth N985.667m were traded in 2,160 deals.

PZ was the top gainer for the second consecutive trading day, advancing by 9.04 percent, to close at a year high of N14.60.

Diamond Bank Plc, Nascon Allied Industries Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc and Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc also appeared on the top gainers’ list appreciating by 4.88 per cent, 4.55 per cent, 4.18 per cent and 3.33 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Forte Oil Plc declined the most in share price by 5.02 percent to close at N53.87. UACN Plc, Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc, Honeywell Flour Mill Plc and Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc also appeared on the top losers’ table dropping by  4.95 per cent, 4.67 per cent, 4.55 per cent and 4.35 per cent, accordingly.

The NSE food and beverage index was the only index to close positive, with the oil/gas, banking and insurance indices declining by 0.63 per cent, 0.20 per cent and 0.11 per cent, respectively, while the industrial index traded flat.

Responding to the state of the market, analysts at Meristem Securities said, “The much-expected upturn witnessed in the market today can be attributed to bullish activities on certain large-cap tickers, as well as intensified position-taking ahead of the 2016 financial year earnings releases and corporate actions.

“As we expect this to continue for most of the week, we advise value-seeking investors to temper their optimism with caution.”

Meanwhile, there was a decline in system liquidity, resulting in a 2.57 percent increase in the average money market rate to 20.82 percent, at the close of the trading session. The open buy-back and overnight rates rose by 2.67 per cent and 2.47 per cent, respectively, to settle at 20.50 per cent and 21.14 per cent, accordingly.

Activities in the Treasury bills space were characterised by bearish sentiments on February 17, 2017.

The one-month, three-month and six-month instruments recorded yield increases of 0.15 per cent, 0.02 per cent and 0.32 per cent, respectively. The average Treasury bills yield stood at 16.24 per cent (+0.16 per cent), at the close of Monday’s trades.

Similarly, in the treasury bonds space, yields advanced across most instruments, save for the March-2036, May-2018 and June-2019, which recorded declines of 0.04 per cent, 0.18 per cent and 0.03 per cent, accordingly. Consequently, the average bond yield increased by 0.12 per cent, to peg at 16.65 per cent at the close of trades.

The naira continued its downward trend at the parallel forex market, as it depreciated by 0.77 percent, to settle at N520/dollar. However, the currency appreciated by 0.08 per cent at the interbank forex market, to close at N305.25/dollar.  (Punchng.com)

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AGF: Malami Queries Emefiele On Alleged Forex Fraud In CBN

 Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said there are corruption allegations in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s foreign exchange allocation and transactions.

Malami added, on Wednesday, the fraud allegations were “supported by several documents.”

The PUNCH sighted a subtle query issued by Malami to the Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, demanding “prompt response” to the allegations.

Malami’s letter, dated February 6, 2017, and with reference number, HAGF/CBN/2017/VOL.1/1, was sighted with an official, close to the legal unit of the apex bank.

The letter, in polite terms and without giving any ultimatum, asked Emefiele to respond to the allegations “to enable us to advise the Presidency and take appropriate measures.”

Titled ‘allegations of racketeering in the Central Bank of Nigeria; disparity in allocation of foreign exchange’, and addressed to Emefiele, the letter was delivered to the CBN governor’s office on Monday.

The minister, in the letter, said he became aware of the corruption allegations through several petitions.

Four major allegations contained in Malami’s letter to Emefiele include alleged corruption in the apex bank’s “foreign exchange allocation transactions.”

The second is “questionable policy” in the apex bank’s allocation and sale of foreign currency to Nigerians.

The third is the issue of “arbitrary allotment of different exchange rates for same purposes” by the CBN.

The last is allocation of conflicting foreign exchange rates by the CBN.

The letter partly read, “Some of these petitions have been supported by several documents allegedly showing that the central bank has implemented a questionable policy in its allocation and sale of foreign currency to Nigerians.

“It is further alleged that this arbitrary allotment of different exchange rates for same purposes at the same time is being pursued as policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria. See attached documents from Leadershipng publication.

“Also attached is a report of the October 2016, allocation of conflicting foreign exchange rates by the central bank.

“In view of these allegations of corruption and arbitrary allocations of foreign exchange to a certain class of persons, you are kindly requested to comment on these allegations to enable us to advise the Presidency and take appropriate measures as may be dictated by the circumstances of the case.”

Media reports, relying on the document tiled ‘Bank utilisation report on 60:40 rule for October 2016’, which was attached to Malami’s letter sent to the CBN governor, had raised allegations of corruption and the implementation of questionable foreign exchange allocation policy.

In October 2016, alone, as revealed by the document, no pattern or template could be deciphered to have been used in calculating the exchange rates.

The criteria used in selecting the firms or sectors for which certain volume of foreign exchange was allocated and at what rate could not be pinned to any template.

The 1,312-page document revealed the names of various customers, their corresponding addresses, form numbers, amount allocated to them (in United States dollars), the items or purposes, the sector and the banks used for the month of October alone.

It shows how some companies and individuals got foreign exchange in US dollars at the rates as low as low as N0.61 to $1 while others got it in rates that were as high as N470 to $1.

For instance, an individual got $4,327 at the rate of N23.34 to $1 through “credit card payment” for “invisible” purpose and under “invisible sector”.

A bank also got $3,589.11 at the rate of N3.19 to $1 also for “invisible” purposes and under “invisible” sector.

There was a transaction involving sale of $66.72 at the rate of N0.62 to $1.

There was also a sale of $5.56 to a company at the rate of N0.61 also for “invisible” purposes.

A particular transaction also involved the sale of $570.8 at the rate N3.17.

In contrast, there was a company, who purchased $1,462,480.83 at the rate of N425 to $1.

The document shows that individuals and companies got foreign exchange for purposes ranging from importation, PTA, school fees, “invisible”, family maintenance allowances, mortgage payments and medical travel among others.

But the CBN had debunked the allegations in a publication posted on its website on January 30, 2017.

The publication titled ‘CBN clarifies alleged wrong FOREX purchase figures’, was signed by the apex bank’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor.

The bank stated that it neither allocated foreign exchange nor did it deal directly with bank customers.

Insisting that its forex policy was transparent, the apex bank also said it was not responsible for fixing FOREX rates for transactions by individuals or companies.

The statement read, “Following  media  reports alleging  irregularities  in  the  rates  at  which foreign  exchange  was  obtained  by  some individuals  and  companies from  different Deposit  Money  Banks under  the new  [60:40] Foreign  Exchange  Policy  by  the Central  Bank  of  Nigeria,  which prioritises  FOREX  sales  to  manufacturers, agriculture,  plant  and machinery,  critical  raw materials,  among  others,  we  wish  to  make the following  clarifications:

“The  Central Bank  of  Nigeria  neither  allocates  foreign exchange nor  does  it  deal  directly  with  bank customers;

“The CBN does not fix FOREX rates for  transactions  by  individuals or companies.

“In  line  with  our  principle  of transparency,  we  directed  DMBs  to forward to  us  evidence  of  FOREX  sale  to  end users  and  to advertise  same  in  national dailies.

“Since  the  introduction  of  the  new FOREX  Policy  in  2016,  we  have published, monthly,  the  evidence  of  sale  from  DMBs, as  received from  the  banks  and  without  any alteration  by  us  in  the  spirit  of transparency.

“We  have  recently  observed,  however,  that some DMBs forwarded  inaccurate  data, which  were  erroneously published  and  gave a  wrong  impression  of  disparate rates;

“The DMBs involved in providing inaccurate data  have  since  been issued  queries accordingly.  Some  have  returned  a response, indicating  that  some  of  the  figures were related  to formatting errors, which  do not  affect  the  true  rates  of  the  affected transactions.

“As  the  constitutionally  authorised  industry regulator,  mandated  to manage  the  FOREX market,  maintain  external  reserves  and  to safeguard  the  international  value  of  the legal  tender  currency,  we  wish to  state unequivocally  that  the  CBN  has  a  duty  to perform  and  would not  indulge  in  acts capable  of  discrediting  the FOREX  market.

“We  therefore  wish  to  reiterate  that  the  sale of  FOREX  under  the  new policy  is  most transparent  and  it  is  not  intended  to  benefit any individual  or  corporate  body  in  anyway.”  (Punchng.com)

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