Man docked for allegedly ”spreading rumours” about his neighbours



A 35-year-old man, Daniel Chukwu, accused of spreading ”rumours” to about his neighbours,  on Wednesday appeared in an Ebute Meta Magistrates’ Court.

The police charged Chukwu, with spreading rumours likely to cause breach of the peace.

He, however, pleaded not guilty.

The Prosecution Counsel, Insp. Raphel Doney, told the court that the defendant committed the offence sometime in August, at No. 22, Omodeagi St., Lagos.

He alleged that the defendant told his neighbours that he offered N150,000 to the parents of a girl who had accused him of defiling their eight-year-old daughter.

Doney alleged that the act subjected the family to incessant mockery and ridicule in the neighbourhood.

The offence, he said, contravened the provisions of Section 168 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

Magistrate Tolu Agbona admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N100,000 with two sureties each in like sum.

He adjourned the case until Aug. 21 for mention.



SUNREF launches $81m fund for renewable energy projects in Nigeria



The Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Finance (SUNREF) has launched 81 million dollars technical assistance facility for the development of green energy projects in Nigeria, an official said on Thursday.

SUNREF is a green financing line for businesses developed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and instituted with a €70 million grant funded by the AFD and the European Union Infrastructure Trust Fund (EU-ITF).

MS Ogechi Adiukwu, SUNREF Nigeria Programme Officer, who made the disclosure on Thursday in Abuja, said the project had an investment grant for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

According to her, SUNREF Nigeria programme which is composed of a 70 million dollars low-cost debt financing and an 11 million dollars grant facility, seeks to improve access to energy through improved access to affordable finance for renewable energy technologies.

“It seeks to ensure energy efficient initiatives that will improve lives, increase economic opportunities and support various sectors such as industry and agriculture.

“Through this grant, SUNREF Nigeria programme will provide technical assistance and support to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN),” she said in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria .

“It partners with banks like Access Bank and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and companies in Nigeria toward the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

“In Nigeria, where access to energy is far from universal, limited energy security and rising energy prices will likely continue to challenge the growth of Nigerian businesses in the near future.

“As a result, increasing the development of green energy is a key condition to a sustainable economic growth by ensuring reliable access to energy as well as enabling businesses and households to seize opportunities of the ecological transition.”

She quoted Ms Inga-Elisabeth Hawley, the Senior Director, Environment and Energy at WINROCK International, as saying that they were  delighted to be appointed to implement the technical component of the SUNREF programme.

Adiukwu also quoted the Team Leader, SUNREF Nigeria Programme, Javier Betancour, as saying that SUNREF Nigeria programme brought the global SUNREF experience of providing financing and technical assistance for renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects to assist businesses become more efficient and transit to green energy.

She noted that Dr Mansur Ahmed, President of MAN, had said the programme would be critical in increasing the competitiveness of Nigerian manufacturers, as they transit to renewable energy sources and implement energy efficiency measures in their operations.

Adiukwu also disclosed that the SUNREF initiative had been deployed in over 30 countries and successfully supported over 42 projects in partnership with about 70 banks to the tune of about 2.5 billion euros from the AFD of which 1.2 billion euros had been paid.

According to her, the benefits of SUNREF programme targets entrepreneurs AFD cannot finance directly such as Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and individuals, using financial intermediaries as channels for disseminating projects through reliable local counterparts with technical skills.

She added that it would disseminate technical know-how and good practices through the technical assistance.

Mr Faruk Yabo, Director of Renewable Energy and Rural Access, Federal Ministry of Power, said that the  SUNREF programme would help Nigeria toward achieving its 30:30:30 goal of generating 30 per cent of 30 Giga Watts (GW) from renewable energy by 2030.

For Dr Gregory Jobome, Chief Risk Officer, Access Bank, the bank had been on this journey of financing green energy projects for a long time.

“We hope that through this programme shall be a stimulus for other banks to start financing such projects that will benefit many generations to come,” he said.

Mrs Ayodele Adeniyi of UBA said they believed renewable energy would go a long way to reducing the power deficit in Nigeria and that the bank was willing to go all the way to support it. 

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Peter Ejiofor)
Source: NAN

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COVID-19: Manufacturers donate N8bn cash, N300million palliatives 



The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) says its members made donations worth N8 billion in cash and N300million worth of palliative materials to both Federal and States Governments during the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Mansur Ahmed, President of MAN, made this known at the 48th Annual General Meeting of the association on Thursday in Lagos.

Ahmed told newsmen that indicators revealed that the nation was not immune to the challenges as world manufacturing also experienced inconsistency in production growth, indicating an overall economic slowdown.

This, he explained, resulted in job losses, decline in consumer demand and a general deterioration in living standard.

“On our part, we donated about N8 billion in cash and are sincerely grateful to our frontline health workers and other service providers for their commitments, sacrifice and service to humanity.

“To this end, I sincerely appreciate members of MAN for their support to government when it was most needed to provide palliative as a way to cushion hardship experienced by Nigerians and to contain the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Ahmed said that the association remained resolute at continuously supporting its members to explore business expansion opportunities to navigate the current challenging times confronting the industry due to COVID-19.

This, he said, were in the areas of intra-trade facilitation, renewable energy and local raw material sourcing amongst others.

On the current state of the Nigerian economy and the manufacturing sector, Ahmed said that the performance of the economy was fragile and slowly sliding into recession.

According to him, the association’s outlook for the first quarter of 2020 found maximum expression in the actual performance of economic indicators.

Economic activity in the year was disrupted by the spiral effects of the pandemic, he said.

Ahmed said that the consequence of this development was that sectoral groups ran short of supplies of raw materials due to disruptions in the global value chain, with many still unable to access forex.

“The manufacturing sector performance that was expected to be strong, having recorded an impressive performance in the 4th quarter of 2019 on account of border closure, suffered a huge setback.

“For Nigeria, the outcomes include lockdown, near shut down of the operations of eight manufacturing sectoral groups, disruption in supply chain, inventory of unsold items and loss of jobs.

“Arising from the scenario, the expectation is that inflation, interest and exchange rates, will jointly trend upward from their current states in differing magnitude of between 15 per cent and 18 per cent.

“Also expected is that the rate of unemployment will double, reaching the 50 per cent mark for the first time in our history,” he said.

Ahmed commended government for the initiative toward unifying foreign exchange windows in the country.

He urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure a properly managed transition regime to reduce the effect on the manufacturing sector.

“The burden of foreign currency denominated loans and offsetting of existing credit commitments to foreign suppliers of raw materials should be given priority consideration.

“It is our conviction that the foreign exchange unification initiative will engender a regime of a balanced participation for forex users and promote a transparent, as well as efficient allocation of forex required for sustained economic growth,” he said.

Ahmed also said that data and research by the association revealed that the sector still needed a comprehensive and integrated support system from the government.

He advocated for a reduction in the financial pressure on companies occasioned by COVID-19.

Ahmed called for the support of manufacturers concern with existing loan facilities, by reviewing the terms and reducing interest rates to 5 per cent with two years moratorium.

“Manufacturers that are investing in order to scale up production, should be granted loans at 5 per cent interest rate for a period of five to seven years.

“These will no doubt improve liquidity and ramp up productivity in the manufacturing sector in a manner that will cover up for obvious losses due to COVID-19,” he said.

Ahmed also urged government to direct all regulatory agencies to reduce their respective administrative charges (Pre-COVID-19 rates) payable by manufacturing concerns by 50 per cent.

Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Oluwole Sogunle
Source: NAN

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Industrialists advocate review of partial border closure policy one year after



Some industrialists on Sunday in Lagos appealed to the Federal Government to review its policy on the partial border closure, one year after.

The industrialists made the call while speaking in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

They said the policy on partial border closure was not sustainable.

NAN reports that on Aug. 20, 2019, law enforcement agencies were ordered by the presidency to enforce the partial closure of the country’s borders.

Mr Ambrose Oruche, acting Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) called for the review, saying that it had impacted negatively on  exports and other businesses forcing some to close shop.

Oruche said that although the policy had improved the nation’s agricultural production, however, insisted that further study be carried out to determine the way forward on its impact on other sectors of the economy.

“We are asking that the border closure policy be reviewed and assessed to determine the way forward as it is not sustainable.

“Exporters have been affected, businesses have shutdown, the border closure has greatly impacted the sector negatively.

“Though some will say rice millers are smiling to the bank but the fact remains that a study must be carried out to assess the impact to determine the way forward.

“If they say it is to prevent smuggling of items, go around and you will still see banned products still coming in with fresh expiring dates in our supermarkets.

“It is also not the right policy, especially as the nation plans to be a part of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), ” he said.

The MAN D-G also advised government to address the porous nature of the borders by deploying advance technology as against the compromised gatekeepers now at the borders.

Dr Muda Yusuf, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said though the policy reduced smuggling, the unintended consequential costs on many businesses were very profound, and in some senses disproportionate.

Yusuf said the closure had resulted in the coplete shutdown of cross border trades between Nigerian businesses and their counterparts in the West African sub region with consequences on investments and jobs.

“Many industries have invested in products registered under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).

“These investors whose business models were anchored on market opportunities in the ETLS have investments that have suffered unforeseen disruptions and dislocations in the past one year.

“Supply chain of some businesses have been completely disrupted as many companies including big manufacturing firms source their raw materials from countries in the sub region,” he said.

Yusuf called for the fixing of some fundamental governance shortcomings which had led to the closure in the first place.

He listed some of them to include the fixing of security institutions for effective border management and policing, and fixing of infrastructures to build a more efficient, productive and competitive economy.

He also called for the review of import tariff regime to reduce incentives for smuggling.

“High production cost remains a fundamental problem for the economy as it increases the price of locally produced items and encourages smuggling.

“Government also needs to get the government of Benin Republic to respect the ECOWAS protocol on transit goods.

“This is crucial to reduce the practice of using the Benin Republic as a major smuggling corridor into Nigeria.

“There is evidence that this and other regional issues are being addressed by the ECOWAS Committee set up to intervene in the land border closure crisis,” he said.

Prince Saviour Ichie of the Association of Micro Entrepreneurs of Nigeria (AMEN), said the policy was more isadvantageous as the nation had not attained manufacturing self-sufficiency enough to close its borders.

Ichie said that even though rice production had improved, it had not gotten to the stage where it would be able to sustain the nation’s needs.

He appealed that government measured the success in aspects of local manufacturing such as textile, shoes making among others to ascertain its impact.

“The border closure is not the best as you have to have enough before you think about closing.

“It is disadvantageous to us as a nation if you look at how it has impacted our textile and other companies in Nigeria.

“To me, it has only led to the inflation of several items.

“On our locally manufactured products, Nigerians consume just 20 per cent, while 80 per cent go through the land borders.

“This policy has only engendered indigenous production in other countries.

“Government should review the effect of border closure on entrepreneurship, manufacturing as it appears most decisions were taken without consultation,” he said.

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Grace Yussuf (NAN)


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Shippers Council, others decry indiscriminate charges by shipping companies



The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) on Wednesday described as ‘unreasonable and unacceptable the indiscriminate’ high surcharges by multinational shipping firms on Nigerian-bound cargoes.

The Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, said this during a meeting with stakeholders to discuss current increase in peak season surcharges on Nigerian trade route.

Those who attended the meeting included the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the Nigerian shipping community.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 2020 peak period charges of between $1000 and $1,500 per twenty-foot equivalent unit(TEU) by shipping firms, is over 400 per cent increment from the previous $200 freight charge per TEU during peak period.

The six companies allegedly involved in this act are Cosco, Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd and Evergreen shipping.

“The charge is scary. If a Nigeria-bound container is charged as much as $1000, then the national economy is in trouble,” Bello said.

He expressed worry that the surcharge was introduced at a wrong time, adding that it would lead to spiral inflation rate on the economy as cargoes would be abandoned at the ports.

He noted that except the situation was urgently addressed, it might lead to job losses while many companies might go under.

“The charges are astronomic, unjustified, not notified and discriminatory.

“This is against fair trade facilitation rules, we have written to the erring firms and waiting for responses.

“We have also written to the Ministry of Transportation to escalate it to Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Federal Government to protest the charges.

“We have been having surcharge in the range of $200 to $400, but 400 per cent increase and there is no time limit, any economy cannot cope with it as it can cripple the economy,” Bello said.

Director-General, Lagos Chamber for Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, said the industries would resist the charges because the timing was most unsuspicious for business owners generally.

Olufemi Immanuel from MAN said the surcharge was unacceptable because it was coming at a time when manufacturers were working with less staff, less raw material and lower profits.

Mrs Margaret Orakwusi, Representative of NACCIMA, said the surcharge would affect commerce critically as members borrowed huge money to import items.

On arbitrary charges by terminal operators, Mrs Celine Ifeora, NSC Deputy Director, Regulatory Services, said the council would ensure that regulated service providers complied with the nation’s rules and regulations.

She added that the NSC would not tolerate failure of terminal operators to refund illegal money collected from shippers, as they were previously directed.

“We have come to enforce shippers council’s regulatory authority on the Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT) and to mandate them to comply with the rules.

“The message we are sending out is that we want to make the port work and so cutting corners will not help anybody,” she said.

Edited By: Kevin Okunzuwa/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)


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