Modu Sheriff & PDP, Boutros-Ghali is dead, Naira falls, Keystone Bank & buyers, Tarfa arraigned . . .
Ali Modu Sheriff to head PDP
The National Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party may have settled for Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the next chairman of the party.
The former governor of Borno State and a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, were drafted into the race by the members of the party’s National Caucus in Abuja at their meeting which ended in the early hours of Tuesday in Abuja.
The meeting was held at Ondo Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro.
It was attended by governors of the party and others.
Again, members of the National Caucus met on Tuesday afternoon at the party’s national secretariat, Abuja..
Members of the Board of Trustees of the party are currently meeting to discuss to either reject or accept the former governor as the party’s chairman.
Our correspondent gathered that at the end of the BoT meeting, members of the National Executive would meet.
The former governor was said to have been chosen because of his experience.
“He (Sheriff) has money. He is fearless and he has the capacity to galvanise the north for the PDP”, a member of the PDP National Working Committee told our correspondent.
Former UN Secretary General, Boutros-Ghali is dead
Ex- UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who led the world body from the hopeful times that emerged at the end of the Cold War to the massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia, has died at the age of 93, the United Nations announced Thursday.
The Egyptian diplomat became the first secretary-general from the African continent in 1992, but his tenure ended abruptly after five years when the United States vetoed his second term.
Boutros-Ghali, who served as the United Nation’s sixth secretary-general, died in Cairo, a UN spokesman said.
UN Security Council members observed a moment of silence in memory of Boutros-Ghali during a meeting in New York.
A former Egyptian foreign minister, the veteran diplomat headed the world body during one of its most difficult times with crises in Somalia, Rwanda, the Middle East and the former Yugoslavia.
After a series of clashes with the US administration, Washington turned against Boutros-Ghali and decided to back Ghanaian Kofi Annan for the top post.
Relations with the United States began to sour in late 1993, when a US-led operation in Somalia led to major casualties among American troops.
The operation, part of an overall UN effort to provide humanitarian aid that was being blocked by a civil conflict, led to acrimony between the US authorities and the world body.
Further problems emerged during peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia, and after the genocidal massacres of 1994 in Rwanda, which the United Nations failed to halt.
There was also friction over UN sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which had invaded and then been ejected from Kuwait a year before Boutros-Ghali took up his post.
Washington’s then ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, argued that Boutros-Ghali had failed to enact reforms needed to make the world body more efficient.
When his candidacy to serve a second term was vetoed by Washington, Boutros-Ghali felt that he was being punished for pushing UN member states to pay their membership arrears – an issue on which the United States has long been a laggard – and for condemning Israeli actions in southern Lebanon.
After leaving the United Nations, Boutros-Ghali served as secretary-general of the Francophonie group of French-speaking nations.
Boutros-Ghali was born on November 14, 1922 into a Coptic Christian family in Cairo.
He was educated at Cairo University and in Paris, where he established a lifelong connection with France.
After a university career centered on international relations, including a spell at Columbia University in New York, he became Egypt’s foreign minister in 1977, under president Anwar al-Sadat.
He accompanied Sadat on his ground-breaking trip to Jerusalem in that year, an event which both forged a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel and led to Sadat’s assassination four years later.
Naira falls to N345/$ in parallel market
The naira, yesterday, suffered its biggest daily depreciation against the dollar as it exchanged for N345 to a dollar in the parallel market.
This represents N20 depreciation when compared with the closing exchange rate of N325 per dollar in the market on Friday.
But the naira was relatively stable at the official interbank foreign exchange market as the interbank rate stood at N197.47 per dollar at the close of business, yesterday.
The naira also depreciated by N45 against the British pound as the parallel market exchange rate rose to N485 per pound, yesterday, from N340 on Friday.
Bureaux de Change sources, who confirmed the development to Vanguard, attributed the sharp depreciation to persistent scarcity of the dollar and pound sterling in the market.
According to an Abuja-based BDC operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, “the market is experiencing huge demand for dollars but there is no supply. Even those who have dollars are not willing to sell. The way things are going, the rate might reach N350 per dollar before it stabilises.”
This development widened the gap between the interbank rate and the parallel market rate to N147.53 per dollar from N127.53 per dollar last week.
The naira has been on steady decline since January 12, 2016, when the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, stopped weekly dollar sale to BDCs.
Prior to this action, the naira traded at N265 per dollar in the parallel market. Consequently, the naira has depreciated by N80 in the parallel market since the CBN took the action.
The steady depreciation was also aggravated by inability of the CBN to meet foreign exchange demand. Vanguard investigations reveal that the parallel market is being bedevilled by demand for foreign exchange from importers of the 41 items excluded from the official market by CBN last year as well as importers of items not excluded from the official market.
Ex-Borno Governor, Modu Sheriff, sworn in as PDP chairman
The National Executive Committee, NEC, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has confirmed the appointment of a former governor of Borno State, Ali Sheriff, as the new chairman of the party.
Mr. Sheriff is taking over from Uche Secondus, who administered the party as interim chairman since the resignation of Ahmadu Mu’azu after the 2015 general election.
Mr. Sheriff has already been sworn into office, the spokesperson of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said Tuesday.
Mr. Metuh is expected to address the media shortly.
The various caucuses of the PDP had earlier nominated the former Borno governor subject to the approval of its Board of Trustees and NEC.
The PDP is Nigeria’s biggest opposition party, and was defeated only in May 2015 after holding power for 16 years.
Mr. Sheriff has been a controversial figure amid allegations he funded and sponsored the extremist sect, Boko Haram. He denies the allegation.
In 2015, the former governor was summoned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to respond to questions bordering on allegations of “misappropriation, embezzlement of funds and abuse of office while he was governor”.
He was not arraigned.
Fidelity, Sterling, Wema Jostle To Buy Keystone Bank
Some commercial banks have begun to jostle for the purchase of Keystone Bank Ltd, the last nationalised bank owned by the Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).
AMCON had yesterday placed advertisements in major newspapers in the country calling for expression of interest for the acquisition of its shareholding in Keystone Bank Ltd where it has 100 per cent holding.
LEADERSHIP findings reveal that three local banks, Sterling Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc and Wema Bank, have shown interest in the AMCON-owned bank put up for sale yesterday.
Sterling Bank’s chief financial officer, Abubakar Suleiman, announced that the bank was looking to buy “one or two mid-sized commercial lenders” following the drop in the value of the naira.
Abubakar told Reuters that he expects devaluation to drop by as much as 20 per cent, which will impact on the capital adequacy ratio of companies; which means banks will need to raise new capital to meet CBN’s capital adequacy ratio limits.
According to him, Sterling Bank is in a prime position to pick up some banks as the bank had in January last year raised about N19 billion in private placements, bringing its total capital to N92.9 billion.
With a staff strength of 3,000 working in 185 business outlets that service 1.4 million customers, the bank’s deposit base currently stands at N582.63 billion while its total assets and total equity are at N792.55 billion and N88.2 billion respectively by September 30, 2015.
Managing director and chief executive of the bank, Yemi Adeola, in December said it was open to merger or acquisition in order to build up scale and battle the weak market and a deteriorating economy.
Adeola noted that the slowdown in the economy, along with currency weakness, provided opportunities for a market consolidation to build scale and cut costs, adding that one or two foreign banks were having discussions about possible acquisitions in Nigeria.
Fidelity Bank which had placed bids for Enterprise Bank and Mainstreet Bank but lost to Heritage and Skye Banks respectively has also begun plans to bid for Keystone, LEADERSHIP findings have shown.
A source within the bank said that the bank was still very much interested in acquiring an AMCON bank to boost its status in the banking industry.
Fidelity has a niche in corporate and retail banking with 225 branches nationwide and had emerged the reserved bidder for Enterprise Bank and the second reserved bidder for Mainstreet Bank.
Fidelity Bank, with a staff strength of 3,296 and a capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 20.6 per cent by September 31, 2015, has total assets of N1.59 trillion and total equity of N180.3 billion.
With a customer base of 3.2 million, the bank’s deposit base stood at N765.78 billion.
Also Wema Bank which was recently granted a national banking license by the Central Bank of Nigeria is being tipped for the purchase of Keystone.
With a capital base of N43.8 billion, the bank is planning a tier one capital in the first quarter of the year.
The bank, with a branch network of 135, a customer base of 1.6 million and staff strength of 1,106, has total assets of N344.63 billion and a deposit base of N234.09 billion. Its CAR currently stands at 18.94 per cent.
The deadline for the expression of interest for the purchase of the bank has been fixed for 5pm, Friday March 4, 2016, giving a three weeks’ timeframe for prospective buyers.
Keystone Bank by December 31, 2015 had four operational subsidiaries, two of which are international, 156 branches, 22 cash centres and 306 automated teller machines.
Based on the audited financial statement of the bank, by June 30, 2015, the bank’s total assets stood at N317 billion, customer loans at N98.2 billion, customer deposit at N245 billion and total equity at N18.9 billion.
Keystone Bank is the last of the three nationalized banks created after the 2009 banking crisis and meant to be sold. Its sale which was meant to have taken place last year had been delayed due to the change of baton at the bank that saw its former managing director, Mustapha Chike-Obi, replaced by Ahmed Kuru, the managing director of Enterprise Bank, before it was sold to Heritage Bank.
AMCON noted that upon receipt of the expressions of interest (EoIs), it would make a shortlist of those who it deemed fit to be suitable from a regulatory perspective, among other things, to proceed to the first phase of the transaction.
BoI Declares N12bn Profit, Disburses N84bn In 2015
The Bank of Industry (BoI) has announced a profit after tax of N12 billion and an exceptional income of N37 billion from the disposal of WAMCO shares for the financial year ended December 31, 2015.
Besides, the bank, hinging its improved profitability on operational efficiency during the financial year, also disbursed loans worth N83.5 billion to 776 enterprises, which comprises 47 large enterprises and 729 SMEs in the year.
The bank explained that the loans to large enterprises went to companies in Nigeria’s real sectors such as agro-processing, food processing, solid minerals, gas value-chain, engineering and technology and light manufacturing.
According to the bank, the loans for small and medium enterprises were disbursed to companies in the various SME clusters such as fruit juice, cassava processing, fish farming, bakery and furniture, among others, adding that the loans resulted in the creation of over 90,000 jobs in 2015.
“The bank’s operating results are underpinned by strong growth in the Bank’s balance sheet, improvement in the Bank’s non-performing loan ratio from 18 per cent in May 2014 to four per cent in December 2015, and efficient cost management which saw the growth in operating expenses limited to only 12 per cent in 2015,” the bank said.
Speaking on the result, the managing director, Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, said, “I feel very proud of what we achieved in 2015. We made significant developmental impact through the disbursement of over N83billion to nearly one thousand enterprises. We commissioned two of the six rural solar micro grid projects we financed. We introduced many products and programmes to support the SME ecosystem.
“We obtained our ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System Certification. We also secured our first ever international rating from Fitch Ratings (BB-) and Moody’s (Ba3), moving the Bank closer to global best practices.”
He expressed gratitude to all the Bank’s development stakeholders for their continuing support to the BoI, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria and the 200 Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs).
Senior Nigerian lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, arraigned; floods court with over 90 SANs
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday arraigned a senior lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, before Justice Aishat Opesanwo of Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, on 2-count charge of obstruction of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Mr. Tarfa pleaded not guilty to both counts.
Based on his plea, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo prayed the court for a trial date and to remand the defendant in custody.
However, Adeniyi Akintola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, who led a team of over 90 Senior Advocates and other lawyers to represent Mr. Tarfa, said they had filed an application for bail which he said was served on the prosecution on the 10th of February, 2016.
In his application for bail, the defence counsel told the court that the defendant went to court voluntarily and that he was granted administrative bail by EFCC on self-recognition.
He said the defendant was a very senior member of the bar with no criminal record. He said there was nothing to show that the defendant would jump bail.
However, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, urged the court to dismiss the application as the offence was grave. He urged the court to dismiss the application and order for an accelerated hearing.
Justice Opesanwo, in her ruling, granted bail to Mr. Tarfa on self-recognition but ordered that he must not travel out of the country without the permission of the court.
The trial judge bemoaned the number of counsel who were in court for the defendant. She noted that there was no need for such magnitude of support as it amounts to harassment and intimidation of the court.
Soon after the ruling, Mr. Akintola told the court that he had filed an application to quash the charge.
Mr. Rotimi responded that he had not been served. He was subsequently served by the defence counsel in open court.
Justice Opesanwo adjourned the matter to March 14, for hearing of the application to quash the charge while the substantive case was fixed for April 20, 2016 for trial.
Mr. Ricky Tarfa, SAN, is accused of willfully obstructing two officers of the EFCC, Moses Awolusi and Sanusi Mohammed from arresting Gnanhooue Sourou and Nazaire Odeste, who were suspected to have committed economic and financial crimes in contravention of Section 38(2) (a) of the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Also, he is alleged to have engaged in improper communication with Justice M. Yunusa of the Federal High Court Lagos between May 11 and June 25, 2015 while the case between the EFCC and two others was pending before the judge.
“That You Rickey Tarfa (SAN) on or about the 5th day of February, 2016 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, wilfully obstructed Moses Awolusi and Sanusi Mohammed, authorized officer of Economic and Financial Crime Commission from arresting GNANHOUE SOUROU and NAZAIRE ODESTE who were reasonably suspected to have committed economic and financial crimes by keeping the said suspects in your car between 11.00 hours to 16: 30 hours”
“RICKEY TARFA (SAN) between 11th of May and 25th of June, 2015 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court attempted to pervert the course of justice by communicating with Hon. Justice M.N. Yunusa of the Federal High Court through your mobile Telephone No. 08034600000 whilst suit No: FHC/L/CS/715/2015 between Rana Prestige Industries Nigeria and EFCC and Suit No: FHC/L/CS/716 between Hair Prestige Manufacturing Nigeria and EFCC filed by you on behalf of the applicants in the two suits seeking to retrain the commission from performing its statutory duties were pending before the said judge”.
Okorocha Reconciles Ohaneze Factions
Governor of Imo state, Chief Rochas Okorocha has reconciled the two factional leaders of Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo, Chief Gray Enwo-Igariwey and Dr. Ralph Obioha with Dr. Obioha dropping his claim to the President-General of Ohaneze and accepting Chief Enwo Igariwey as the only President-General of the Organization. Dr. Obioha also pledged to give Chief Igariwey all the needed support and cooperation to enable him succeed.
The reconciliation of the two factions had come at the end of a very lengthy meeting between the two leaders, members of their respective Exco and delegates from the states that make up Ohaneze, at the Government House Owerri, with Okorocha presiding the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Obioha dropped his lingering claim of being the authentic President-General of Ohaneze, and declared that he and his faction had accepted the leadership of Chief Igariwey as the President-General of Ohaneze, and his declaration elicited jubilation in the Ndubuisi Kanu Exco Chambers, Government House, Owerri.
Dasuki Accuses Government of Denying Him Opportunity to Prepare for His Trial
Former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki has accused the Federal Government of denying him the opportunity to prepare for his trial.
Speaking through his lawyer, Chief Joseph Daudu, SAN, he said that if allowed to go on in the circumstance, the trial would make a mockery of the judiciary.
Dasuki is being tried for unlawful possession of firearms and money laundering.
He is claiming that the federal government no longer had the moral right to put him on trial having been in contempt of the judiciary in three separate courts that admitted him to bail.
At the resumed trial on Tuesday, Daudu said that government must first purge itself before it should be granted the indulgence to commence the trial.
Cameroon soldiers kill 162 Boko Haram fighters
retake Nigerian town
Soldiers from Cameroon have retaken Nigeria’s north-eastern town of Goshi from Boko Haram, killing 162 militants in a weekend operation, Cameroon’s government has said.
Soldiers from Cameroon have retaken Nigeria’s north-eastern town of Goshi from Boko Haram, killing 162 militants in a weekend operation, Cameroon’s government has said.
Communications minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said Cameroon special forces also freed about 100 people being held by the extremists, including Cameroonians and Nigerians. He said two members of Cameroon’s military were killed.
Mr Bakary said the operation from February 11 to February 14 destroyed several bomb factories and two training centres in the former Boko Haram stronghold, and soldiers seized vehicles, weapons and ammunition.
Amnesty International says Nigerian-based Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people in its six-year insurgency.