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FG inaugurates inter-ministerial committee to curtail unfair trade malpractices, exploitation of farmers by foreigners

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Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo - Minister of Industry Trade and Investment
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In an effort to curtail unfair trade malpractices and exploitation of Nigerian farmers by foreigners, the Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated an inter-ministerial standing committee to oversee the implementation of a memo on the Promotion of Agri-Business in Nigeria through Right Farm Gate Pricing and Ban of Foreigners from Purchasing Agricultural Commodities at the Farm Gates.

The document was jointly presented by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on March 9, 2022 and was approved by the Federal Executive Council.

At the inauguration in Abuja, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, said that the move was part of government’s efforts to provide the enabling environment for the commodity subsector to thrive.

Adebayo, noted that the memo is “aimed at addressing the challenges impeding the development of the agricultural commodity subsector of the economy, curtailing unfair trade malpractices and exploitation of Nigerian farmers by foreigners and promoting competitive premium pricing as impetus for increased productivity in the commodity subsector amongst others.”

He decried the exploitation of farmers by foreigners who come to Nigeria to mop up agricultural commodities at the farm gates and in turn offer farmers prices below market value.

He said: This situation has indeed led to the failure of many contractual agreements between farmers and indigenous off-takers. It has also affected the production capacity of our local factories due to the fact that foreigners buy off supplies and deprive the factories of required stocks.

“The current practice of direct purchases of agricultural commodities at unfair prices by foreigners at our farm-gates poses serious dangers which include: reduction in farmers’ income, declining productivity in the agricultural sector, unemployment and insecurity.”

Adebayo, further said: “a number of activities have been outlined for implementation and the Committee is expected to ensure that they are properly articulated and implemented for the growth and development of our economy.”

He charged the committee to come up with appropriate implementation mechanism and guidelines for implementing the approved FEC Memo as well as liaise with States, Local Governments and other relevant stakeholders nation-wide to enforce the ban and compliance.

Other terms of reference for the committee include: “To facilitate establishment of enforcement organs in the States and Local Governments; To facilitate signing of Executive Order by Mr. President, specifying penalties and fines for violators.

“To liaise with the State Governments for establishment of commodity aggregation centres for export in some strategic locations nation-wide and “To carry out periodic assessment (quarterly) on the implementation and Honourable Minister,” he said.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said the committee is saddled with the duty of ensuring 100 per cent implementation of the approved memo.

Ngige, represented by the Director, Human Resource Management in the Ministry, Mr Yisau Adepoju, said that part of the mandate of the ministry is to formulate and implement policies and programmes to attract investment, boost industrialization, increase trade and export, and develop enterprises with a view to promoting economic growth, create jobs and generate wealth.

“As you are aware, the Ministry is passionate about the promotion and development of the non-oil sector having realized the enormous potentials of the sector and its contributions to the national economy.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that wealth from crude oil is not sustainable given the fact that the oil wells will certainly dry up someday. Nigeria is naturally endowed with vast and fertile arable lands suitable for production of many commodities.

“The production, processing and marketing of these commodities not only provide food security but also jobs, income and foreign exchange, amongst others,” she said.

The permanent secretary, further said the ministry has put in place a number of programmes and initiatives to reposition the subsector.

According to Ngige, the initiatives include the campaign on patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products, Nigeria Agri-business and Agro-industry Development Initiative, NAADI, Domestication of lobal GAP, E Commerce and the Commerce 160 Initiative, amongst others.

On his part, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Suleman Audu, expressed the readiness and willingness of the committee to provide the required leadership and coordination to ensure efficient implementation of its mandate.

Audu, said the assignment has come just-in-time when the present administration has reiterated its focus on the development of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

“Indeed, the full implementation of the FEC approval on Promotion of Agribusiness in Nigeria through Right Farm Gate Pricing and Ban of Foreigners/Representatives from Purchasing Agricultural Commodities at the Farm Gates will no doubt ensure that farmers get commensurate value for their hard-work, eliminate the threats to sustenance of the nation’s non-oil xport, particularly in the agric-commodity sub-sector and strengthen Government’s efforts at diversifying the economy away from oil and gas.

“We will roll our sleeves and shall hold the inaugural meeting immediately after the successful inauguration. We assure your excellency that we shall work as a team. We shall be guided by the terms of reference and the interest of the nation,” he said.

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BREAKING: Governorship Aspirant Jailed 42 Years Over Corruption

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Senator Bassey Albert
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The governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Bassey Albert, has been sentenced to 42 years in prison for corruption.

A Federal High Court in Uyo, on Thursday, convicted and sentenced Mr Albert who was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He has been taken to Ikot Ekpene prisons, Akwa Ibom State, to serve his prison term.

Mr Albert, a serving senator representing Akwa Ibom North East District, was accused of receiving bribes of 12 cars worth N254 million from an oil marketer, Olajidee Omokore, during his (Albert’s) tenure (2010 – 2014) as commissioner for finance in Akwa Ibom State.

The convicted senator was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, the ruling party in the state, before he defected months ago to the YPP, where he secured the party’s ticket for the 2023 governorship election.

He was a major challenger to the PDP candidate, Umo Eno, in next year’s governorship election in Akwa Ibom State.

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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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