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We don’t have records of N7.5bn ‘secret withdrawal’, Ministry of Finance Tells Senate

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The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, on Tuesday, said it is not in possession of documents on the alleged ‘secret withdrawal’ of N7.5 billion from the account of National Automotive Council Design and Development Council (NADDC).

The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Aliyu Ahmed, disclosed this while appearing before members of Senate Committee on Public Accounts.

The panel had summoned the officials of the Finance ministry, Office of Accountant-General of the Federation and Office of National Security Adviser to give explanation on alleged “secret withdrawal of N7.5 billion from the 2 percent NADDC Levy Account domiciled with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Speaking on behalf of Permanent Secretary, a Director in the ministry, Mr Teslim Akintoye, said: “We don’t have any document to show for that transaction.”

His submission did not go down well with member of the Senate panel, whose chair, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, countered that the approval for the withdrawal was done in the ministry.

The Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Hassan Hadejia asked, “are you telling us that no document in the Ministry to show for it, everything emanated from your Ministry.”

“You don’t appear before Senate when you don’t have anything to say,” the chairman, Urhoghide added.

The Office of Accountant General of Federation however confirmed that the money in question was released and it going to be recovered through budgetary process.

It, however, failed to present the list of beneficiaries of the fund in question a part was earmarked for car loans to Security Officers.

After heated debate, the Committee resolved to dig deeper into the fund.

“We are going to dig deeper into the matter. We have to give ample time into this matter. We must do proper status on it to let Nigerians know what is going on. We want to see what the president is going to do about this colossal fraud,” the chairman said.

The query had said, “A total sum of N3,836,000,000.00 (Three billion, eight hundred and thirty-six million naira) was irregularly withdrawn from the 2% National Automotive Council Levy Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja in 2 installments of N2,800,000,000 (in 2005) and N1,036,000,000.00 (in 2006) by the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Finance as car loan to be granted for the Security Personnel Car Purchase Scheme Loan.

“The transaction was carried out by the Presidency in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General of the Federation without the involvement of NAC, the account owner.

“However the principal and the accrued interest from the fictitious loan have not been paid back nor are records available on the beneficiaries, agreement documents, moratorium, duration of the loan, the yearly interest rates accruable and how the fund will be paid back by the beneficiary.

“The Director General has been requested to intensify correspondence with the Honourable Minister of Finance, Accountant-General of the Federation and the Presidency to recover the fund (‘loan’).”

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Business & Economy

ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisation re-elects Dr. Ezra, as president

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Dr. Ezra Yakusak - MD/CEO NEPC
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Dr. Ezra Yakusak, the Executive Director/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), has been reelected as the President of ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) Network in Accra Ghana.

Dr. Yakusat, will serve another One-year tenure and will lead 15 other member ECOWAS countries in driving trade within the sub-region.

His re-election is also in line with Article 11 of the ECOWAS TPO Network. The ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organization is a network of all Trade Promotion Organizations in West Africa established by the decisions of Council of Ministers at the Ordinary Session.

Nigeria became the pioneer president in April 2021. Dr. Yakusat, became the president following the expiration of the tenure of Mr. Awolowo as ED/ CEO of NEPC.

A statement by the council said the re-election of Dr. Ezra was at the end of 2nd Annual General Meeting of the Network held at Alisa hotel, Accra, Ghana from 19th – 20th May, 2022.

He was re-elected along with the vice president, Mr. Ben Guy Mbangue from Cote’ D’ivoire.

The duo constitute the Executive Bureau of the Network and the tenure expires after one year. All members present unanimously re-elected the President and Vice President respectively.

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World Bank projects Nigeria’s Diaspora remittances to increase in 2022

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World Bank has projected Nigeria’s Diaspora remittance inflow to increase to $29bn in 2022 because of higher food prices and the continued adoption of official bank channels.

The bank said, migrants from the country are likely to send more money home to help with the hike in the prices of staples.

A report titled, ‘Migration and Development Brief (May 2022): A War in a Pandemic: Implications of the Ukraine crisis and COVID-19 on the global governance of migration and remittance flows,’ the bank stated that remittance flows to low and middle-income countries are expected to increase by 4.2 per cent to $630bn in 2022.

It said: “With risks weighted to the downside, there are several factors that support a view for continued—though more moderate—7.1 per cent gain inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.

“Momentum for the use of official channels in Nigeria should sustain an uptrend in the year, within flows reaching $21bn.

“Though economic activity is likely to ease in the United States and Europe, fundamentals remain positive for continued gains in remittance flows to the remainder of Africa, as the influence of ‘altruistic’ motivations that were demonstrated in Africa and South Asia during the peak pandemic years will likely carry over to the period of sharp increases in staple food prices.”

The global bank further said remittance inflow to Sub-Saharan Africa was $49bn in 2021, with Nigerian contributing $19.2bn to the total inflow, adding that the use of informal channels to transfer money to the region caused a 28 per cent reduction in inflows in 2020.

“In 2022, remittance inflows are projected to grow by 7.1 per cent driven by continued shift to the use of official channels in Nigeria and higher food prices – migrants will likely send more money to home countries that are now suffering extraordinary increases in prices of staples,” the bank said.

The World Bank stated that the Naira-4-Dollar policy, which was an attempt to return remittance to formal channels, of the Central Bank of Nigeria helped boost inflows by 11.2 per cent in 2021, adding that the stabilisation of the naira against the dollar within a range of 410-415 per dollar over the last year also contributed to the pickup in recorded inflows.

It noted that the increased stability of the Naira and increased use of the e-Naira would help boost the nation’s chances of achieving $21bn in remittance for 2022.

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Double trouble for Ahmed Idris: arrested by EFCC, suspended by Minister

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Ahmed Idris - Account General of the Federation
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The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has been directed to proceed on indefinite suspension over alleged laundering of N80 billion.

Idris, was suspended on Wednesday by Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

In a letter dated May 18, 2022, the minister said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.

Ahmed Idris, was on Monday arrested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). over alleged diversion and laundering of N80 billion.

Wilson Uwajaren, Head of Media and Public Information of the EFCC, stated that verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.

Uwujaren added that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja.

According to EFCC, Idris was arrested after he failed to honour invitations by the Commission to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.

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