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Nigeria’s oil production rebounds as Shell lifts force majeure on Bonny Light exports

Nigeria’s hope of improved production may have been re-ignited as a result of the lifting of force majeure on crude exports by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) from Bonny Light terminal following repairs to a leaking pipeline.

Operational issues have hampered Nigeria’s crude production throughout the second half of this year, with disruption at several other terminals, including Qua Iboe, Forcados, Erha and Brass River.

Nigeria’s production in the last few months has been below budgetary benchmark, dropping to 1.37 million barrels a day in October, 261,000 bpd below its OPEC+ quota.

The Guardian had reported that despite ongoing amnesty and other measures to address crude theft in the Niger-Delta region and over N32 billion paid between January and July on pipeline security and maintenance cost, Nigeria’s production challenges appear unabated, as frequent pipeline sabotage is expected to see the country’s average crude loss surpass 200,000 barrels a day.

The latest monthly report of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also showed that Nigeria’s rig count slumped to nine from 11.

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The operational problems have left Nigeria falling short of its OPEC+ production ceiling in recent months, even though NNPC’s Mele Kyari had noted output should be at quota levels by the end of the year.

Shell had declared force majeure last month following a leak on the 150,000 b/d Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), one of two pipelines that feeds crude to the Bonny Light terminal.

NCTL operator, Aiteo, said repair has been completed and pipeline operations have resumed, enabling Shell to lift force majeure on 22 November.

While the NCTL becomes operational, Aiteo’s operations at Santa Barbara in Nembe Local Government area of Bayelsa State, remains a concern for the Federal Government and host communities, forcing the government to order the closure of operations in the community.

The Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Environment, Saghir el Mohammed, in a statement, said following the outcome of a joint investigation team, the Federal Government mandated the company to carry out concrete actions to address the situation that include clean-up of impacted areas, remediation of the spill site as well as damage assessment and post spill impact assessment.

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He said, “The Federal Government has directed the exploration company, AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited (AEEPCo) to halt operations in the area until proper investigation is carried out and adequate measures put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in the area.”

Argus reports that Bonny Light exports had been scheduled at 153,000 b/d this month, but no cargoes have loaded from the terminal since the Agios Sostis I departed for Singapore on 24 October, according to Vortexa data.

Three Bonny Light shipments are pencilled in for December and three more in January, although traders say Shell is likely to revise next month’s programme.

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TradeDepot raises $110 million to extend ‘Buy-Now-Pay-Later’ to retailers

TradeDepot, the leading B2B eCommerce and embedded finance platform in Africa, has raised $110 million in an equity and debt funding round to support the delivery of Buy-Now-Pay-Later services to 5 million SME retailers and drive further expansion of its merchant platform across the continent.

The new funding will also support the expansion of the innovative Merchant Platform into new cities.

The Series B equity round was led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group, with participation from Novastar, Sahel Capital, CDC Group, Endeavor Catalyst and existing investors, Partech and MSA Capital. The debt funding was led by Arcadia Funds.

Africa’s SME retailers generate $1 trillion in sales annually and contribute $2.6 trillion to the continent’s nominal GDP, but a fragmented distribution network and lack of access to financing has led to inefficiencies in distribution and many missed opportunities across the value chain.

Through its ShopTopUp platform, TradeDepot offers a broad range of consumer goods to SME retailers within its network and provides credit lines to enable these retailers to access inventory and pay in installments as they sell on to their own customers.

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The new funding will expedite the delivery of this service to more retailers, increasing penetration for consumer goods brands and driving prosperity in one of the continent’s most critical sectors.

With active operations in 12 cities across Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, TradeDepot leverages its data, technology and robust logistics operations to connect retailers with suppliers and unlock financing to fund inventory purchases for retailers, enabling increased sales, higher margins and other value-added services for all parties.

Speaking about the new funding, Onyekachi Izukanne, CEO and co-founder of TradeDepot, said, “We remain super focused on making digital commerce and financing both accessible and affordable to neighbourhood retailers across key cities in Africa. We are delighted to be joined by an elite group of new investors and have IFC’s Wale Ayeni and Brian Odhambo of Novastar joining our Board of Directors, to support us on this journey to drive growth and prosperity across the continent.”

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TradeDepot has built a network of leading consumer goods brands and SME retailers across Africa, and created a proprietary risk scoring engine that uses retailers’ purchase history, previous repayment performance and other related data points to predict their creditworthiness. This game-changing financing model coupled with industry-leading technology to support logistics operations has led to a 200 percent increase in transaction volumes for retail store owners.

“The informal sector is a large and critical part of Africa’s economy, accounting for around 80 per cent of jobs in the region,” said Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director. “We are excited to work with TradeDepot to leverage technology to help small businesses across the continent, particularly the many retailers led by women, access the resources they need to grow and scale.”

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Senate wants UK to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 travel ban

The Nigerian Senate has called on the British authorities to consider removing Nigeria from their Coronavirus (COVID-19) red list.

The Senate also condemned what it called the United Kingdom’s inclusion of Nigeria in the COVID-19 red list without justification.

These were resolutions reached by the Senate at plenary on Tuesday, following the consideration of a motion on the “Need for Government of the United Kingdom to remove Nigeria from COVID-19 Red List”.

The motion was sponsored by Sen. Ike Ekweremadu (PDP-Enugu West).

It advised the UK government to be sensitive to the diplomatic relationship between both countries when taking decisions that affect Nigerian citizens.

The senate also urged the Federal Government to engage the British authorities on reversing Nigeria’s inclusion on the list.

It also called on the Buhari administration to remain firm in the enforcement of necessary protocols in the containment of every COVID-19 variant in Nigeria.

It further called on major vaccine powers like: Britain, Canada, America, and the European Union, among others, to take urgent steps to ensure vaccine equity in the interest of the entire human race.

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Coming under Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, Ekweremadu noted with satisfaction the efforts of the Government of Nigeria in the containment and treatment of COVID-19 cases.

He said, “Nigeria is among the countries with the lowest cases of COVID-19.

“The decision by the British Government to include Nigeria in its COVID-19 list, with its concomitant implications, will affect many citizens of Nigeria, who had planned to spend their Christmas and New Year holiday with their families.

“Also worried that Nigerians with genuine needs to visit the U.K within this period will be denied visas and those with visas will not be allowed to enter the U.K.”

He noted that Nigerians had consistently complied with all the COVID-19 protocols required by the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.K Government for travellers prior to the ban.

He emphasised that targeting African countries, especially in the COVID-19 travel ban, amounted to profiling and discrimination as well as an attack on Nigeria’s cordial diplomatic relationship with the U.K.

Ekweremadu drew the attention of the senate to global concerns over vaccine hoarding and inequity and the resulting consequences on low-income nations in the fight against COVID-19.

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In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that the decision to include Nigeria on the UK COVID-19 red list posed a strain on the diplomatic relationship between both countries.

He also decried the poor treatment of Nigeria by the UK government.

Lawan, therefore, called on the British Parliament to intervene with a view to having Nigeria removed from the country’s COVID-19 red list.

He said “Let there be justification for it. We are not saying that they can not put any country on the red list, including Nigeria, but there must be reasons for doing that.

“And of course, Nigeria has done so well to the admiration of many countries in the area of containment of COVID-19.

“Therefore, we don’t see any reason why Nigeria will be on that so-called red list. I believe that Nigerians deserve better treatment from the British government.

“I’m using this opportunity to ask the British Parliament to mount pressure on its government to remove Nigeria from the so-called red list.”

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How to check youth unemployment in Nigeria by Nwosu

President of the Ugwumba Leadership Centre for Africa and All Progressives Congress (APC), Uche Nwosu has urged the Federal Government to partner with private organizations and individuals to drive its women and youths’ empowerment policies and programmes.

He said such measures will eliminate observed sharp practices that have undermined the government’s efforts at tackling youths unemployment.

Nwosu who spoke at the grand finale of the 2021 Ugwumba Enterprise Challenge, advocated the need to incorporate vocational training in universities and other institutions of higher learning, to equip the youths with the necessary skills needed to be self-employed.

He said the Ugwumba Leadership Centre has been committed to identifying youths with business ideas and nurture and empower them with startup grants to establish or expand their existing businesses.

According to him, “President Muhammdu Buhari has done very well by opening a lot of small and medium scale enterprises,SMEs. The President brings out money and the money trickles down to the people in my village,in your village,and other villages. But the question we should ask ourselves is ‘does that money get to them?’

“When things come from government, it becomes nobody’s property. If it is government’s school,it becomes nobody’s school but if it is a private school,it is somebody’s school. So for me, government needs to partner more with individuals. it does not matter.”

He continued, what we need to do as private individuals is to give them the list of people we have interviewed and found out that the people interviewed actually need the money not where a government official will generate a list and at the end of the day,the money given to the people on the list comes back to the same person and they will say they have empowered. We need practical empowerment.”

Nwosu tasked the youths to showcase their talents to achieve success in life.

“They (youths) should be ready and showcase their talents to make it in life”,he charged.

Noting with regret that,” There are some who are not ready at all”,the entrepreneur said,”But those who are ready to work and make it in life,I want to thank them.”

“Moving forward, we want to see a country,a society where the young people who are talented would have one thing to do and will not depend solely on the government. Will not depend solely on parents but with what they have and what they have off head, where they can be able to create something for themselves with little help from well meaning Nigerians who have to support them “it might not necessarily be millions but something.

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“People start business with N5,000. I have seen a woman who started business with N5,000, selling crayfish and vegetables. So,we want to see a country,see our society where unemployment will be reduced to its barest minimum level,” he said.

Noting that the country has moved beyond depending on government’s job offers, Nwosu charged young graduates to begin to embrace what he simply referred to “Address B.”

“The country has moved beyond the point of ‘ I’m a doctor,there is no job,let me sit at home and I’m a petroleum engineer and SEPLAT or SHELL has not employed me, let me sit and wait.

“You need to have address B. Your address A is your theoritical certificates and so your address B is the other one, that is the practical, what you can do as a barber,what you can do as a tailor,what you can do by using anything that is not anything in the society to create something in the society”.

Commending the efforts of the Centre at promoting security and social order in the society, the Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, enjoined Nigerians to support efforts of government to empower the women and youths.

Bichi who was represented by DSS spokesperson, Mr. Peter Afunanya, said what the Ugwumba Leadership Centre is doing, is one of the ways individuals can assist the government to tackle security challenges.

In his words, “for us at the DSS, we do not do anything that will undermine the welfare of women and youths, so in this regard, we align ourself with the project of this Centre.

“If you resolve the problems f the youths for instance, or if you resolve the issues of discrimination against women, you would have resolved the issues of insecurity.

“Today we are aware that our country is facing security challenges and it is not peculiar to Nigeria, world over, countries are facing different dimensions of challenges. It is not just combating the security challenges, empowering the youths through Small Scale Enterprises, is the way to go.

“The DSS wishes to commend the Ugwumba Leadership Centre for all they are doing to empower our youths, for all they are doing to bring about peace, harmony and social order in their localities and Nigeria at large.

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“So we will continue to support whatever that is legal, whatever that is lawful to achieve peace and security in our country and every person should please support that”.

Also applauding the Centre, former Imo governor and Senator representing Imo West, Senator Rochas Okorocha, enjoined the youths to take advantage of the initiative to achieve success in their chosen endeavor.

He further urged them to be passionate in whatever they are doing, adding that one can become successful doing what others may consider as menial.

The Senator commended the President of the Centre, Nwosu, for his large-heartedness in deploying his personal resources to empower women and youths.

He said, “many people will misunderstand what you’re doing as a show of affluence or political gimmick but if empowering the youths can be achieved through that way, let every wealthy Nigerian begin to do so. It does not take one having the whole money to do what you’re doing, it is just sacrifice, it doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do with your money but you’re driven by passion and love for humanity. I salute you for your large heart.

“And to the beneficiaries, I urge to be passionate about what you’re doing, that is the only way you can succeed. I have seen a shoe cobbler who became wealthy because he was passionate with what he was doing”.

Director-General of the Centre, Remy Chukwunyere, disclosed that the Centre had empowered over 5000 youths since its inception in 2018.

Explaining the Centre’s 2021 enterprise challenge, the DG, revealed that , “520 participants across the country were selected and admitted into booth camps, where they started pitching competition.

“At last ten finalists were selected and at the grand finale, the best three will get N1m each, while the rest will receive consolation prizes.

“Between 2018 to 2020, we have empowered about 5500, we also have a community of about ten thousand who are benefitting. The Centre has been doing this alone, if we begin to receive support for external sources we can expand what we’re doing. We are motivated from the amazing feedback we get from participants.”

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Afghan currency slides on bank collapse fears

Afghanistan’s currency hit 100 to the US dollar Tuesday, losing five percent of its value in one day in a panic triggered by fears that one of the country’s biggest banks could collapse, traders said.

Afghanistan has been hit by an enormous shortage of dollars since the Taliban marched into Kabul and seized power on August 15, as international donors suspended billions in aid provided annually to the previous regime.

Since the Taliban takeover, the US has frozen around 10 billion dollars in reserves that Afghanistan’s central bank had parked in the US Federal Reserve.

The crisis looked set to deepen overnight and this morning when news circulated that Maiwand Bank — among the country’s five biggest lenders — had collapsed.

“That was false,” said Haji Sher Shah Ahmadzai, who heads the dispute resolution committee at Kabul’s Money Exchange Commission.

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But “trust has been eroded,” he said, as Maiwand has in recent weeks failed to return funds owed to the commission, which has some eight million dollars deposited in the bank, Ahmadzai said.

One financially insolvent trader among the hundreds at Kabul’s open air exchange held his head in his hands, repeatedly crying out: “I have drowned!”

The Afghani stood at 104.5 to the greenback in late Tuesday trade, compared to around 80 in early August.

One trader said that the market is being hit by fears of a much wider collapse of the country’s financial system.

“There are rumours about the collapse of all Afghanistan’s banks,” said Bilal Khan as he counted batches of Afghanis.

“There is no money in the banks. The banks are refusing to pay your own money to you.”

Khan also cited a dawning realisation in the market that the Taliban will not be recognised by the international community any time soon.

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Traders had initially expected that “the new government would be recognised,” he said.

But consequent disappointment “is causing heavy devaluation of the Afghani against the dollar, Pakistani rupee and the Euro”.

The Taliban last week announced a ban on using foreign currencies in Afghanistan.

But the rules are not being enforced, according to traders.

The country’s cash crunch has fed into an economic collapse that has left it facing a deepening humanitarian crisis.

More than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people face “acute” food shortages, according to the United Nations, with the impending winter forcing millions to choose between migration and starvation.

The new government is pressing for the US to release the frozen central bank reserves.

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Court orders Ajudua to undergo COVID-19 test

Justice Josephine Oyefeso of a Lagos High Court sitting in Ajah has ordered Fred Ajudua to undergo Covid-19 at Yaba Infectious Disease Centre Laboratory, in the presence of the representatives of both the prosecution and defence, and the result must be communicated to the court within 48-hours.

The trial court made the order after defence counsel, Akinwale Kola-Taiwo, informed the court that though Ajudua was present in court premises but pleaded that he should not be made to entre the court room because he has been tested positive for COVID-19.

Ajudua was alleged to have defrauded a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi of $8.4 million while they were both in Kirikiri Prison in 2004 for different offences.

The defendant and his accomplices approached Bamaiyi and convinced him that he would hire the legal services at a cost of $8.4million, to help him secure his release from custody.

For over two-years, Bamaiyi has been under cross-examination by the defence after giving his evidence-in-chief on November 26, 2018. The cross-examination of the former Chief of Army Staff has suffered several delays brought about by the defence.

However, at the resume proceedings, Kola-Taiwo told the court that medical report of the defendant shows that he contacted the deadly virus for the first time on January 8, and was tested negative on January 15 after he treated himself through self-medication.

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“I’m sincerely sorry for the absence of the defendant. He is downstairs but I don’t think he should be made to enter the court,” his Kola-Taiwo said.

“An associate of the defendant met me and handed over these documents to me. They are medical reports of the defendant testing positive for COVID-19 virus.

“Your lordship, the defendant was tested positive of COVID-19 for the first time on 8/01/2021. He did self-medication and he was tested negative on 15/01/2021. The defendant has underlining health issue. He has been living with one kidney for couple of years now sir.

“Sometimes around October 14 this year while he was in his home town in Delta State, the defendant also contacted COVID-19. The defendant has been medicating ever since, but the condition is deteriorating.

“The latest test was done three days ago on 3/12/21, and the result came out positive again. I was told that the defendant flew in from Delta state last night. We will be praying your lordship for an adjournment to give room for the defendant to be treated for the virus.”‘s

Responding to his submission,the prosecution counsel, Mr. Seidu Atteh query the absence of the lead defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN).

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He says the defence should make all the documents available to the prosecution so that they will conduct their own investigation on the authenticity of the documents.

Atteh said in alternative, the court should invoke Section 235 of the newly passed Administration of Criminal Justice Law( ACJL) of Lagos State, 2014, which states that defendant can be tried in absentia.

“Where is the principal of my learned friend Mr. Olalekan Ojo (SAN), who got today date. Past records of the defendant has made claims of illness.

“The defendant should make available the documents to us so that we can look into it before we make our comment. In alternative, the court should invoke S.235 of ACJL, 2014, because the defendant cannot continue to manipulate the court.

Justice Oyefeso while delivering a bench ruling ordered the defendant to be tested at the laboratory of Yaba Infectious Disease Centre, in the presence of both the prosecution and defence.

The court also ordered defence to file application attached all the medical reports of the defendant before the court.

The judge further directed prosecution to bringing the issue of Section 235 of ACJL, 2014 before the court as an application and subsequently adjourned the matter to February 15, 2022 for continuation of trial.

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Chelsea’s Kovacic tests positive for Covid after injury return

Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic has tested positive for coronavirus just a day after returning to training, manager Thomas Tuchel announced on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old had been out of action since late October and Tuchel had hoped to ease him back into action this week.

N’Golo Kante remains sidelined with a knee issue, while Jorginho has been forced to play through the pain of a back problem and will now miss Wednesday’s Champions League trip to Zenit Saint Petersburg, leaving Tuchel short of defensive midfielders.

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“We have bad news because Mateo was in training yesterday and with a big smile and it was a pure pleasure to have him back,” said Tuchel.

“But he tested positive today, for coronavirus, so he’s quarantining for a few days. So it’s a huge setback for him personally and for all of us.”

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Chelsea have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League and will be confirmed as winners of Group H if they equal or better Juventus’s result against Malmo this week.

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Benin court sentences opposition leader to 10 years

A special court in Benin on Tuesday sentenced one of the country’s opposition figures, Joel Aivo, to 10 years in prison after a treason trial critics dismissed as a politically-motivated sham.

Several opposition leaders were detained before or just after an April election that saw President Patrice Talon win a second term with more than 86 percent of the vote.

Another opposition leader, Reckya Madougou, who was detained just before that election, will go on trial on Friday, accused of plotting to prevent the ballot and destabilise the country.

Aivo, an academic who had been held for eight months, had pleaded not guilty to the charges of plotting against the state and money laundering.

“It is not for criminal justice to arbitrate on political differences,” Aivo told the judge before he was sentenced.

“I have decided to give myself to this country. You are also children of this country. Do as you will with me.”

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When the verdict was given at around 3 am on Tuesday after a 16-hour trial, a few Aivo supporters were still in the court, wearing T-shirts that read, “Professor Aivo, the people of Benin are with you.”

It was “a sham of a trial, to sideline him from politics,” Sosthene Armel Gbetchehou, a former student of the condemned opponent, told AFP.

Once praised for its thriving multi-party democracy, critics say Benin has slipped steadily into authoritarian rule under Talon, a 63-year-old cotton magnate first elected in 2016.

Some opposition figures have fled the country while others were disqualified from running in elections, or targeted for investigation.

Aivo was among the opposition figures who had been barred from running in the presidential election.

Aivo was arrested on April 15, four days after the elections that saw Talon returned to power.

He was tried at a special tribunal, the Economic Crime and Terrorism Court (CRIET), in the West African country’s administrative capital, Porto-Novo.

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The CRIET, set up in 2016, has often been accused by critics of being used by Talon’s regime to crack down on the opposition.

“Given the overall trends of this court, this (sentence) was expected. But we did have a glimmer of hope in what we saw in the facts and substance of the case,” said Robert Dossou, one of Aivo’s attorneys.

He said they would discuss details of any appeal later.

Government officials dismiss charges the CRIET is a political tool and say the country’s justice system is independent.

“More proof of the judicial persecutions going on in Benin against the political opposition,” tweeted Julien Bensimhon, a French lawyer to another Benin opposition leader convicted by the court.

“CRIET has once more been used to politically kill off anyone who opposes Patrice Talon.”

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Court orders police to pay suspect N1m over detention

A Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja on Tuesday ordered the police in Kifi to pay N1million in damages to a suspect for breach of his Fundamental Rights.

Justice Sunday Bassay-Onu the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by Daniel Atabor, through his counsel, Mr O.E. Amoke.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports in Lokoja that Atabor was arrested on Sept 25 by the Police A Division, Lokoja, Kogi, over alleged purchase of a stolen Motorcycle from one other person but kept in Kabba Custodian centre without bail or being charged.

Justice Bassay-Onu described the continuous detention of Otabor as a “breach of his fundamental rights” having flaunted the Section IV of the Police Act, which stipulates that a suspect shouldn’t be detained beyond a day or two days from the time of his/her arrest.

“For keeping the applicant beyond the stipulated time frame within the Police Act amounts to a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

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“Consequently, One Million Naira is hereby awarded as damages to the applicant by this honourable Court against the respondents (Police) haven breached his rights and liberty.

“The respondent (Police) is also hereby ordered to release the applicant (Atabor) on bail and charge before a law Court and publicly apologize to him (Atabor) in a national Newspaper forthwith, ” the judge ordered.

Atabor had through his counsel prayed the Court to declare his continuous detention by the police as illegal and a breach of his fundamental rights as enshrined in the nation’s 1999 Constitution and African Charter of the laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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He also demanded for N50 million in damages for this arrest and detention beyond the 48 hours stipulated by the Police Act and against sections 34, 35(1)(3)(4)(5)(6), 37 and 41(1)(2) of the nation’s 1999 constitution (as Amended) and Articles 2, 4, 5 and 12(1) of the African Charter of human and people’s rights (rectification and enforcement) Act (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

Atabor also asked for a public apology to be published in a national newspaper by the police over the breach of his fundamental rights and liberty as a citizen of Nigeria.

But the Police had, through its Counsel, S.I. Ikutowa, claimed that they (Police) were still investigating the case of a stolen property labeled against him (Atabor).and feared his release from detention would negatively affects their investigations into the matter.

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COVID-19: Nigeria records 167 new cases, zero death

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has said it recorded zero fatality from coronavirus on Monday, though 167 additional infections were reported in seven states and FCT.

The NCDC said this on Tuesday in its daily COVID-19 report.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), reports that the 167 cases represent a triple jump over Sunday’s 55 cases with Lagos having 133 infections; about 80 of the total figure.

However, the Centre did not offer any explanation for the surge, though it said no death arising from COVID-19 infection recorded for the second day running

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The implication of this is that the national death toll remained at 2,980.

The NCDC also said “the 167 new cases were recorded in Lagos (113), FCT (22), Plateau (16), Kano (4), Abia (3), Kaduna (3), Rivers (3), Bauchi (2) and Delta (1).”

It said that, till date, 214 789 cases have been confirmed nationwide with 207,478 discharged and 2980 deaths recorded in 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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The Nigerian Public Health Institute also said the country had a total of 4,331 active cases of COVID-19 undergoing treatment in various isolation centres across the nation.

It said that, altogether, the country had conducted a total of 3,629,527 sample tests since the virus was announced on February 27, 2020.

It said that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 2, continues to coordinate the national response activities.

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Telcos’ payment service license and Nigerian banks

On 5th November 2021, MTN and Airtel confirmed, through their social media handles, the Approval-in-Principle (AIP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for Payment Service Bank (PSB) license. The approval is a step towards fulfilling their long-standing wish.

The telcos have never hidden their desire to get fully involved with financial services. The large population of their subscribers increased their interest to invest incorporate banking operations in the telecom industry. They plan to actualise this through MoMo Agent by MTN, and Smart Cash by Airtel. 

At the 2021 Banking and Finance Conference, organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), with the theme “Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance”, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said “More than 30 million Nigerians are excluded from enjoying financial services”.

This implies that much needs to be done. The AIP granted means telcos can bridge the gap in financial inclusion and deepen their hands in the banking sector. The telecom financial servicing process is simplified by making individual sim cards the prerequisite requirement for enjoying the service, since most people have access to mobile networks. 

The move will pose a big challenge to banks whose basic requirements for normal financial transactions are described as costly, rigid, and somewhat unsatisfactory. Citizens have been enduring time-consuming process of creating accounts, queues at banks, service costs, service failures etc., because there are no options.

Telecom financial services will likely triumph more than conventional banks in that they may not require a bank account and physical presence of customers. Their services will be cost-effective, more reliable and will not discriminate beyond the requirements of owning a registered sim card. The major gains would be market efficiency, fiscal transparency and accountability.

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Experts continue to emphasize the need to have a standard database of Nigerians. With this, the country will curtail the unregulated informal sector and tackle illicit activities. Despite Bank Verification Number (BVN) campaigns, many were not enrolled due to the lapses of conventional banking to reach a large percentage of people, especially those in rural areas.

Telcos will play a vital role in reducing the gap in financial inclusion and ensuring adequate policy implementation. For instance, the companies will provide a better database of users due to simplicity of enrollment, thereby widening the tax net and boosting revenue. It will also be easier to extend government incentives like loans and subsidies to the public.

Telcos and banks may decide to further partner to enjoy the benefits of market share. Telcos may move first due to a larger customer base, global reach and financial muscle. Banks and telcos will inevitably discover an avenue to cross-sell products to existing customers, through relationship-based product bundling and pricing that takes advantage of a reduced cost structure.

In the event such happens, banks that move first to collaborate with the telecoms will exploit their unique attributes to promote brands that evoke security and reliability, skills in credit management and distribution channels. They will also amortize their investments in online services since the new trend will be less costly and more efficient.

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The digitization drive by telcos will help to reduce crime nationwide. Digital transfer means transactions can be traced and surveilled. This will tackle the transfer of monies used for criminal activities. The digital signature requirement will eliminate the menace of forgery, a factor that fuels corruption. Also, trading stolen commodities will be hard, since the payment will go through telcos.

Though capacity of telcos to break into the banking industry is doubtless, how they will cope with the challenges of the industry remains to be seen. It is very important to acknowledge that payment is only the beginning. The possibility of anything else happening depends on the telcos getting on their customers’ minds with safe and secure transactions.

If so, they will be better placed to go after credit management, deposits, and other banking products. They would be equipped to explore leases, insurance policies, and service contracts when they mature; making available event-linked product and service purchasing; arranging cash and savings reallocations and transactions, among others.

Should telcos gain the license to issue loans, how they will deal with irrecoverable loans and debts, and what the CBN expects of them in terms of reserve ratio will be intriguing. They must keep in mind that despite competitive edge, their products are vulnerable to hackers and scammers. In all, to attract millions of Nigerians, telcos must come up with easy-to-use but reliable banking services.

Ola Olatomiwa writes from the Center for Fiscal Transparency & Integrity Watch

Email: mail@fiscaltransparency.org

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Chimamanda Adichie, Yousafzai, Melinda Gates make BBC 100 most inspiring women for 2021

Ahead of the new year, the BBC has named Multiple Award-winning author and Feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie amongst its list of 100 inspiring and impactful women from around the world for 2021.

Adichie is listed under the “Culture and Education” category, which consists of 31 women out of the 100 chosen. Under the post designated to the renowned writer, the BBC notes the 44-year-old’s TED Talk in 2012, We Should All Be Feminists, started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014.

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“Let’s use this moment to start to think about health care as a human right everywhere in the world – what a person deserves simply by virtue of being alive, not when you can afford it” Adichie told the BBC.

The annual BBC #100Women list aims to inspire people by sharing the stories of trailblazing women across the globe who are using passion, indignation and anger to spark real change.

“This year 100 Women is highlighting those who are hitting “reset” – women playing their part to reinvent our society, our culture and our world” according to the BBC.

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Women from Afghanistan make up half of this year’s list. The list also includes a diverse range of female figures from leaders in politics, arts and business to everyday heroes fighting for what they believe in.

Among them are Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Samoa’s first Female Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, Professor Heidi J Larson, who heads the Vaccine Confidence Project, and Turkish writer Elif Şafak.

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Police arrest three Dowen College students over Sylvester’s death

Lagos State Police Command has arrested three students of Dowen College over the death of Sylvester Oromoni jnr.

Lagos police commissioner Hakeem Odumosu disclosed that three out of the five students are already in custody.

Before his death, Oromoni had named five students who he claimed attacked him in his dormitory, inflicting on him multiple internal injuries.

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The late student’s father earlier said that his child was beaten and fed a liquid chemical which led to his death.

But the school dismissed the claim, alleging that he sustained injuries while playing football with his colleagues.

Odumosu had earlier ordered an investigation into Oromoni’s death while Dowen College was also sealed off last Sunday.

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The commissioner added that the suspects are assisting the police in their investigation.

Lagos State government has since shut down the school, while the police continue investigation into the matter.

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UAE reduces work week, shifts to Western-style weekend

The United Arab Emirates is slashing its official working week to four-and-a-half days and moving its weekend to Saturday and Sunday in a major shift aimed at improving competitiveness, officials said on Tuesday.

The “national working week” is mandatory for government bodies from January 1 and bucks the regional norm of a full day-off on Friday for Muslim prayers.

While becoming the only Gulf country not to have a Friday-Saturday weekend, the resource-rich and ambitious UAE now comes into line with the non-Arab world.

Under the new timetable, the public-sector weekend starts at noon on Fridays and ends on Sunday. Friday prayers at mosques will be held after 1:15 pm all year round.

The move is intended to “better align the UAE with global markets”, said state news agency WAM, calling the new working week the shortest in the world.

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“The UAE is the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week,” WAM said.

The Western-style weekend, rumoured for years, was announced less than a week after the former British protectorate celebrated the 50th anniversary of its formation.

The UAE observed a Thursday-Friday weekend until 2006, when it moved to Fridays and Saturdays with the private sector following suit.

“The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE’s economic competitiveness,” the WAM report said.

“From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the UAE with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map,” it added.

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“It will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.”

The new arrangement is another bold step for the UAE, which last year bucked decades of Arab consensus by normalising relations with Israel, unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars in deals.

It was generally welcomed on social media, where the subject was trending and the official WAM tweets were widely retweeted.

“Although I’ve gotten used to the Friday-Saturday weekend after all these years, I’m happy to see this change,” said one Twitter user.

“Great decision by UAE. It serves more than one goal. Weekend now matches rest of the world,” tweeted another.

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Drake Withdraws His 2022 Grammy Nominations

By Oreoritse Tariemi

07 December 2021   |   10:20 am

Drake has asked the Grammy Awards Recording Academy to withdraw his two nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards. Drake received two nominations at the 2022 Grammy Awards. He was nominated for best rap performance for his song “Way 2 Sexy”, featuring Young Thug and Future, and best rap album for Certified Lover Boy.  However, Variety reports…

Drake | Image: Instagram

Drake has asked the Grammy Awards Recording Academy to withdraw his two nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards.

Drake received two nominations at the 2022 Grammy Awards. He was nominated for best rap performance for his song “Way 2 Sexy”, featuring Young Thug and Future, and best rap album for Certified Lover Boy. 

However, Variety reports that the Recording Academy received a request from Drake and his management to remove his nominations from the final-round ballot. 

Drake’s 2022 nominations are not visible on his artist page on the Grammys’ website, and the Recording Academy also added the nomination changes to its list of updates.

While it’s unclear why the four-time Grammy winner and his management withdrew the nominations, the decision comes after the artist spoke out against the Recording Academy following The Weeknd’s high-profile snubs last year.

“I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after,” Drake wrote on Instagram shortly after the nominations for the 2021 ceremony were announced. “It’s like a relative you keep expecting to fix up, but they just can’t change their ways.”

Drake has also voiced frustration over his previous nominations and wins over time. The artist declined to submit his mixtape More Life for consideration for the 2018 Grammys and complained about the Recording Academy only recognizing him as a rap artist when his hits at the time were in the pop genre. His single “Hotline Bling” was nominated and won for best rap song and best rap/sung collaboration at the 2017 ceremony.

“I’m a Black artist, I’m apparently a rapper, even though ‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song,” Drake said. “The only category that they can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m Black.”

Added Drake: “I won two awards, but I don’t even want them because it feels weird to me.”

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A Glimpse Into Johnny Drille’s Walk With Johnnie Walker At His Private Concert

31 Jul

On Saturday, July 24, 2021, Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive), in collaboration with the Fasasi family, friends, colleagues and fans hosted an evening of music, poetry, dance, comedy, and talk in celebration of the life of Olanrewaju ‘Sound Sultan’ Fasasi who died on Sunday, July 11, 2021. The special event was held simultaneously in five cities…

4 Aug

The Balvenie Single Malt Whisky has officially made its debut in Nigeria. The two-day grand unveiling events took place in Abuja on July 30, at the Transcorp Hilton, and in Lagos, on August August 2, 2021 at SLoW Restaurant Victoria Island. With this launch, The Balvenie joins the luxury whisky category in Nigeria. The events…

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7 Aug

The Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, will bubble today, as Co-founder/CEO of RED for Africa, Adebola Williams, weds his heartthrob Kehinde Daniel, daughter of former governor of Ogun State, Otunmba Gbenga Daniel. The wedding ceremony, which is expected to attract movers and shakers of the society, will open in the morning with marriage blessing…

14 Aug

It was not until that scary predicament after a chat with Ayra Starr that one fully understood what she embodies on her recently released debut album, 19 and Dangerous.

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18 Aug

JJW is finally back! Following a year-long hiatus, Johnnie, Jazz & Whisky, the nation’s premier platform for truly sensational music experience is back as Johnnie, Jamz & Whisky with a BBN Edition!

21 Aug

When it comes to Afro-Soul and RnB, Aramide Sarumoh is one of the finest voices in the current Naija music scene. The 36-year-old award-winning musician brought on an aura of elegance…

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