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NEPZA, foreign medical coys fast-tracking Lekki medical zone’s take-off

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NEPZA Headquarters, Maitama, Abuja
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The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says scores of prospective anchor tenants seeking to establish world class hospitals and pharmaceutical industries in the new Special Medical Free Zone in Lekki area of Lagos signal gradual end to unnecessary medical tourism abroad.

Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA Managing Director made the remark while playing host to officials of two foreign Hospital Management Companies, Citizens Health Limited and Brown Brommel Medicals in Abuja.

The two health management companies are to invest in world class hospitals for cancer and kidney respectively.

The NEPZA boss described the development as a realisation of a joint dream, adding that the Authority was working toward using the special medical zones to end decades of medical tourism by Nigerians abroad.

According to him, the frequent and sustained medical trips abroad by citizens continues to hurt the economy badly.

Adesugba explained that the newly approved special medical zone located in Lekki was attracting expected attention.

He further said that the huge area overlooking large body of water and isolated swamps clustered by the Lekki Quadrant of Lagos Free Zone, Lekki Free Zone, Dangote Free Zone Enterprises as well as Alaro City Free Zone made it a hot-spot for investment chains.

Adesugba promised that the Authority was prepared to relax perceived stringent rules to ensure the comfort of anchor tenants, adding that the future gains that could accrued to investors who dared to first explore the zone usually would out-weigh the initial challenges.

“The Special Medical Zone in Lekki will be competitive as we are working toward the concentration of world class hospitals there. We are searching for anchor tenants to drive this revolution. Already, scores of prospective investors have come knocking on our door, so you are welcome to collaborate with us.

“I hope you are aware that the location is one of the best sites in the country with great opportunity for other business chains ranging from transport/logistics, electricity, estate development, tourism/hospitality among others.

“We are also opened to bringing into the zone world class pharmaceutical companies to serve Africa and the rest of the world from Lekki. The prospect of the zone is unimaginable.’’ Adesugba said.

The NEPZA chief executive officer also explained that investors should prospect similar zones in Katsina and Ilorin, saying that the Federal Government was committed to using the special medical/pharmaceutical free zones to drastically reduce medical tourism abroad.

Mr Brain Barnes, Vice President of Brown Brommel Medicals said the company had come to explore the possibility of setting up of an advanced Modern Integrated Diagnostic and Dialysis Center at the zone, adding that the center proposed to sit on 10 hectares of land would also provide sundry medical services.

Barnes, who was represented by Mr Chris Obuekwe, Group Managing Director, said the company was delighted to take advantage of the country’s free trade zone scheme, adding that citizens deserved to enjoy the best of medical services the world could provide.

On her part, Ms Cynthia Okirie, a Director with the Citizen Health Limited said the company aimed at tapping into the free zone incentives to transfer the required health technology and services into the country.

She explained that Citizen Heath Limited UK was known for its proficiency in the treatment and management of cancer, adding that the Lekki special medical free zone would serve as the ideal lunch pad for the improvement of the health sector in Nigeria.

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BREAKING: Appeal Court Sets Nnamdi Kanu Free, Challenges High Court’s Jurisdiction

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Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu
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The Appeal Court sitting in Abuja has discharged the embattled leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu is being prosecuted by the Federal Government at the Federal High Court in Abuja for 15 count charges bordering, including treasonable felony and terrorism, offences he allegedly committed in the course of his separatist campaigns.

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal said the Federal High Court lacks the jurisdiction to try him in view of his abduction and extraordinary rendition to Nigeria in flagrant violation of the OAU convention and protocol on extradition.

The court held that the 15-count charge preferred against Kanu did not disclose the place, date, time and nature of the alleged offences before being unlawfully extradited to Nigeria in clear violation of international treaties.

The court further held that the Federal Government failed to disclose where Nnamdi Kanu was arrested despite the grave allegations against him.

The court noted that the act of abduction and extraordinary rendition of Kanu from Kenya without due process is a violation of his right.

It added that the manner in which Nnamdi Kanu was procured and brought before the court was not evaluated by the lower court, before assuming jurisdiction to try him.

The lower court having failed to address the preliminary objection challenging its jurisdiction particularly the issue of abduction and extraordinary rendition from Kenya to Nigeria, the lower court failed to take cognizance of the fact that a warrant of arrest can only be executed anywhere within Nigeria, the appeal court judgement said.

The court further held that the trial judge was in grave error to have breached the right to fair hearing of Nnamdi Kanu

The African Charter on Human and People’s rights are part of the laws of Nigeria and courts must abide by the laws without pandering to the aim of the Executive, the appeal court said.

Treason charges

Mr Kanu has repeatedly called for the breakaway of a significant chunk of southern Nigeria to form the Republic of Biafra.

On October 2015, he was arrested by Nigerian authorities on an 11-count charge bordering on “terrorism, treasonable felony, managing an unlawful society, publication of defamatory matter, illegal possession of firearms and improper importation of goods, among others.”

He was granted bail on April 2017 for medical reasons.

However, Mr Kanu fled the country in September 2017 after an invasion of his home by the military in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State.

He was then sighted in Israel and later continued to rally his supporters in Nigeria to employ violence in achieving secession.

“He has, upon jumping bail, been accused of engaging in subversive activities that include inciting violence through television, radio and online broadcasts against Nigeria and Nigerian State and institutions,” Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said after Kanu was rearrested and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021.

“Kanu was also accused of instigating violence especially in the Southeastern Nigeria that resulted in the loss of lives and property of civilians, military, para military, police forces and destruction of civil institutions and symbols of authorities.”

Mr Kanu has denied any wrongdoing.

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3rd time in a row CBN raises lending rate to rein in inflammation

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday raised its main lending rate by 150 basis points to 15.50%, its highest level yet and more than forecast, forging ahead with efforts to rein in inflation and ease pressure on the currency.

The lending rate decision comes after annual inflation rose for a seventh straight month in August, to 20.52% from 19.64% in July.

The decision by the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was the third time in a row the Apex bank would raise its interest rate.

With the inflation at its highest in 17 years, the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele at the end of the meeting said the Committee had to continue with an aggressive stance.

According to the CBN governor, using the interest rate hike is the easiest and most preferred option, stressing that the option has been adopted globally.

“If you want to rein in inflation, the option is to raise the interest rate to a level that is equal or possibly higher than the inflation rate, so that inflation rate must lag policy rate,” Emefiele told a news conference

He further stated that if the inflation rate does not lag the interest rate, it becomes a negative interest rate and a disincentive to investors.

The Apex bank Governor is of the view that as long as inflation keeps rising, not raising interest rates will retard growth and leave the people poorer than they could have been.

“Therefore it is imperative that you must raise interest rate in order to rein in inflation,” Emefiele further said.

He, however, admitted that though raising interest rates may retard growth all the same but the reason for raising interest rates is not to help slow down inflation but compensate for an aggressive rise in inflation.

According to him, if the CBN does not raise the rate, consumption and expenditure would be affected because the purchasing power of individuals would be eroded or dissipated.

He added that the quantity of goods people will be able to buy would also shrink and this will invariably increase the level of poverty.

He, therefore, concluded thus: “You don’t have a choice but to raise interest rates.”

The Apex Bank adjusted Asymmetric Corridor at +100 & -200 basis points around the MPR (interest rate), raised the Liquidity Ratio to 30 per cent and also increased the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of banks to a minimum of 32.5 per cent and stressed that commercial banks will be debited from their reserves by Thursday at the most.

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Export Rejects: NEPC, other Inter-Agencies on a fact-finding mission to UK

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In a bid to curb the incidences of export rejects, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is leading an Inter-Agency team to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of strategic effort to address the issue which constitute a major constraint to the growth of the non-oil export sector.

The National Food, Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) Federal Produce inspection Service (FPIS) and Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) are among the Agencies participating on the fact-finding mission.

The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak who led the team lamented that these cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regime on Nigerian exports in the importing countries and in some cases led to the suspension or ban of some products.

According to him “It also attracts unfavourable international media attention, gives the country a negative image as well as constitutes financial burden to the exporters who have to bear the cost of either reshipping the banned product to Nigeria or destroying the product.”

A statement by Ndubueze Okeke, the Head Cooperate Communication of the NEPC, the objective of the 5-day visit is to provide Nigerian export-regulatory and facilitating agencies the opportunity of observing the processes of agricultural commodities import procedures and interface with Port Health and Food Import Regulatory Agencies at the Border Control Points (BCPs) in the UK.

Other areas to be visited by the team are, Southampton Port (the second busiest port in UK), Spitafield Market – a one-stop aggregation and distribution centre for imported food in the UK as well as the Food Standards Agency (FDA), the parliament among others.

The team also held an interactive session with some Nigerian food importers in UK as part of effort to address the challenges encountered in importing food items from Nigeria to UK. It will be recalled that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) Otunba Niyi Adebayo recently inaugurated a Technical Committee to address the incidences of export rejects with view to proffer solutions to the problem.

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