Man who opened fake government bank account, defrauded MTN of N141m remanded

Eric Agba, a 27-year-old man was on Friday remanded at a correctional facility by an Ebonyi State magistrates’ court sitting in Abakaliki for allegedly operating an illegal bank account in the name of the Ebonyi State Government.

Agba reportedly used the account to defraud MTN Communications Nigeria Limited and others, of N141m.

The suspect, it was alleged, opened the said bank account in 2018.

A report from City Round has it that the suspect committed the offence between January and December 2018, in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital. The network is currently the largest internet provider in Nigeria with the cheap MTN data plan

He was arraigned by the Department of State Services on four counts of felony, conspiracy, operating an illegal account and false representation.

The Services’ Prosecutor, C.P. Njoku, told the court that the offences were punishable under sections 516A (a), 515, 519, 1 (3) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009 and 1 (3) of Advanced Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, 2006.

The charge read in part, “That you, Eric Agba, and others now at large, between January and August 2018 in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, under the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit: assisting in the opening and operation of an illegal Ebonyi State Government Bank Account at Fidelity Bank, which received the sum of N141,585,000 from MTN Telecommunications Company and thereafter transmitted same to several other accounts, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 516A(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.

“That you Eric Agba and others now at large, at the aforementioned place and date, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; failing to use all reasonable means for the prevention of the commission of the crime of opening an illegal Ebonyi State Government Account and wherein the sum of N141,585,000 from MTN Telecommunications Company into a fake Ebonyi State Infrastructure Account, introduced by you which was thereafter fleeced into several other accounts, knowing full well that you had neither the intention or capacity to remit legitimately to the Ebonyi State Government, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 515 of the Criminal Code Cap. 33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.”

The accused was not granted bail as he had no counsel to apply for his bail.

The presiding Chief Magistrate, Nnenna Onuoha, said the matter was beyond the court to adjudicate.

Onuoha directed that the suspect should be remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Abakaliki, and his case file transferred to the office of Director of Public Prosecutions in the state for legal advice.

The matter was adjourned till February 21, 2020, for a report of compliance.

 

Why I can’t interfere in Ganduje, Emir of Kano dispute —Buhari

Image result for Buhari and ganduje

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari says the Nigerian Constitution barred him from interfering in the dispute between Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje and the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Emir of Ningi, Alhaji Yunusa Danyaya, had on Thursday pleaded with Buhari to save the traditional institution in the North from being destroyed by urgently intervening in the conflict between Sanusi and Ganduje.

The royal father, who made the appeal in a chat with newsmen at his palace in Ningi, said: “I am begging the President as a father to all to please in the name of Allah to intervene in the problem happening in Kano and settle this dispute between the emir and the governor.

“I have high hopes that Buhari will not allow the traditional institution to be humiliated and bastardised,” he added.

Buhari, however, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said: “I know my role as the President of Nigeria.

“By the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Governor of Kano State has his own roles, once a matter is in the hands of the House of Assembly (like in Kano), the President has no constitutional right to interfere.

“I am here by the Constitution, I swore by it, and I am going to stand by it. But let me tell you the bottom line of my understanding of the constitutional role is that peace and security of all Nigerians must be guaranteed, where the people are threatened, then I will use my constitutional powers,” he said.

Buhari advised elected officials to live up to the promises they made to their constituents to justify the confidence reposed in them.

“I hope you are mindful of your promises to your constituencies. You went round and you promised your constituencies. I hope the promises you made are within the resources of your state.

“If you made promises outside your resources, it will be your problem because you are going to stand again in four year’s time. This is very important and it is important for our party,” he said.

Ganduje, who led the delegation, thanked Buhari for executing numerous projects in the state including- the Kano – Abuja road reconstruction; the modernisation of Kaduna -Kano and from Kano -Niger Republic rail lines.

He also thanked him for the gas pipeline project from Ajaokuta to Kaduna and from Kaduna to Kano; dualisation of Kano – Katsina highway; as well as the construction and equipping of new terminal wing of the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport.

He also lauded the President for his government’s efforts to make life better for Kano people especially in terms of security and education.

Nigerian airlines, others recorded demand increase in 2019 – IATA

Image result for IATANigerian airlines and their counterparts across Africa recorded a five per cent demand increase in 2019,   the International Air Transport Association, has said.

According to the IATA, the airlines recorded a capacity increase of 4.5 per cent while load factor went up by 0.3 percentage point to 71.3 per cent.

The association stated in its full-year global passenger traffic results for 2019 that Africa led all regions with the five per cent demand increase, which was, however, down from the 6.3 per cent growth recorded in 2018.

It added that airlines in the region benefitted from a generally supportive economic backdrop in 2019 as well as increases in air transport connectivity.

The IATA stated that globally, demand rose by 4.2 per cent compared to the full year of 2018.

The IATA report noted that the 2019 result was a slowdown compared to 2018’s annual growth of 7.3 per cent and marked the first year since the global financial crisis in 2009 with passenger demand below the long-term trend of around 5.5 per cent annual growth.

“Full-year 2019 capacity climbed 3.4 per cent, and the load factor rose 0.7 percentage point to a record high of 82.6 per cent. The previous high was 81.9 per cent set in 2018,” the IATA said.

“December 2019 revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs increased 4.5 per cent against the same month in 2018. That was an improvement over the 3.3 per cent annual growth recorded in November, primarily due to solid demand in North America,” the association added.

The IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, Alexandre de Juniac, said airlines did well to maintain steady growth in 2019 in the face of a number of challenges.

“A softer economic backdrop, weak global trade activity, and political and geopolitical tensions took their toll on demand,” he said.

According to de Junaic, astute capacity management and the effects of the 737 MAX grounding contributed to another record load factor, helping the industry to manage through weaker demand and improving environmental performance.

FIRS moves to block $10bn tax leakage by multinationals

Image result for Muhammad NamiThe Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Muhammad Nami,  has said that the tax collection reform currently being implemented by the service under his watch will help to block about $10bn tax leakage by multinational companies.

He said this on Friday in Abuja at the opening session of the FIRS’ 2020 management retreat.

He said the reforms which were being anchored on four pillars would also help to achieve and even surpass the N8.5tn tax collection target set by the Federal Government for the agency this year.

The N8.5tn target is broken down into oil tax target of N3.7trn and non-oil taxes target of N4.8tn.

Nami gave the four cardinal pillars as rebuilding FIRS’ institutional framework; robust collaboration with stakeholders; building a customer or taxpayer-centric institution; and a making the FIRS data-centric institution.

Nami said currently, Nigeria was losing about $10bn of tax revenue through illicit profit shifting by multinational corporations operating in the country.

This amount, he noted, could have been applied to critical infrastructure development by the three tiers of government. He said the $10bn tax leakage accounts for about 20 per cent of the entire $50bn being lost by the African continent.

He said, “Looking at our performance in the recent past, one may look at the 2020 target as ambitious, but I can assure you that it is achievable especially with the ongoing reforms and business process re-engineering that are taking place in the Service.

“These reforms are aimed at improving both filing and payment compliance, re-activating dormant taxpayers through aggressive intelligence gathering and information sharing and blocking of leakages.

“In addition, if we are able to detect and block tax avoidance schemes by multinational corporations, that will also go a long way to improve our tax revenue collection. “

“The African Union Illicit Financial Flow Report estimated that Africa is losing nearly $50bn through profit shifting by multinational corporations and about $10bn of this amount, is from Nigeria alone.”

He told participants at the event that the management team of the FIRS had also set a target of improving the service’s performance over the next four years by a minimum target of $5m staff-to-revenue- ratio and a 10 per cent tax-to-GDP ratio.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed urged the management of FIRS to come up with an effective strategy to implement the 2019 Finance Act. She said one of the key features of the Act was the repositioning of the Small and Medium Enterprises sector adding that the government did this to support the growth of SMEs.

She urged the staff of FIRS to carry out their duties in a transparent and accountable manner adding that through this, the level of tax payers in the system would continue to increase.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance Solomon Adeola, said that the senate would continue to support the service to achieve its objectives.

He said, “The Senate will not shy away from legislative interventions where necessary as well as a robust oversight of all revenue generating agencies

The President, Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria, Nnamdi Okwuadigbo, described the retreat as timely as it was coming at a time when the nation was looking for a viable alternative to increasing its revenue base.