By Dipo Olowookere
Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted €325,640 and $30,000 being smuggled into Nigeria from Greece and Austria.
The currencies were seized from two suspects at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos during the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish Airline flight.
The anti-narcotics agency, in a statement issued on Wednesday, explained that the alleged smugglers concealed the money inside envelopes and shoes, failing to declare the foreign currencies as required by law.
In the press release issued by the NDLEA spokesman, Mr Mitchell Ofoyeju, the NDLEA Commander at the Lagos airport, Mr Ahmadu Garba, was quoted as narrating that, “During the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish flight, we discovered €325,640 and $30,000.
“Two suspects, Edos Nicholas, found in possession of €279,190, and Hallowell Prince Lovely, found in possession of €46,450 and $30,000, were also apprehended.”
It was also disclosed in the statement that Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Mr Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, has directed the Director of Assets and Financial Investigation of the Agency, Mrs Victoria Egbase, to take over the investigation.
Mr Abdallah alleged that the criminal groups seek to conceal the origin of illegally obtained money, noting that it was pertinent for the agency to trace the origin of the money and prevent the introduction of criminal funds into the economy.
The statement hinted that preliminary investigation so far revealed that both suspects are frequent travellers who are the target of international drug trafficking organizations, stressing that their sources of income must be verified.
He posited that Edos Nicholas claimed to be working in a bakery in Austria, but confessed that people in Austria gave him the money that the NDLEA seized.
“The money does not belong to me. I was given it by different people in Europe to give to their relatives. I have been living in Vienna, Austria for over fifteen years,” said Mr Nicholas, who hails from Edo State.
The second suspect, Hallowell Prince Lovely, who also hails from Edo State, claimed that the money found on him belongs to other people and that he was asked to deliver it to the recipients in Nigeria.
“I live in Athens and I work in an African shop. I have lived there for twelve years. The money belongs to many people and some of them are my friends,” he said.
Unlisted Securities Depreciate by 0.41% Friday
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the bearish zone on Friday, January 21 after back-to-back stalemates as it depreciated by 0.41 per cent, driven by the negative price movement in Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc.
CSCS Plc closed at N19.38 per unit after moving down by 57 kobo or 2.7 per cent from its previous day’s value of N19.90.
The depreciation in this stock weakened the market capitalisation by N2.6 billion to N630.46 billion from N633.06 billion and slowed the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) by 3.07 points to wrap the session at 744.54 points compared with 747.61 points of the previous session.
However, there was a surge in the volume of securities traded at the bourse as investors exchanged 4.1 million units, 103,160 per cent higher than the 4,000 units of securities transacted a day earlier.
Likewise, the value of shares traded at the session swelled to N86.9 million, which by evaluation is 11,227.6 per cent higher than N767,100 posted on Thursday.
These transactions were carried out in eight deals, 300 per cent higher than the two deals carried out at the preceding trading session.
Business Post reports that the unlisted securities market wrapped the day without a price gainer.
At the close of trading, the most traded stock by volume on a year-to-date basis was CSCS Plc with 653.6 million units worth N13.7 billion, VFD Group Plc followed with 916,161 units valued at N331.5 million, while Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Plc has traded 205,566 units of its stocks valued at N24.3 million.
Also, CSCS ended the trading session as the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with the sale of 653.6 million units of its securities valued at N13.7 billion, followed by VFD Group Plc with a turnover of 916,161 units worth N331.5 million, while Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Plc has transacted 205,566 units of its stocks valued at N24.3 million.
Naira Falls at I&E as Bears Wipe $1trn from Crypto Market
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira recorded a 37 kobo or 0.09 per cent loss against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (forex) market as it traded at N415.10/$1 compared with N414.73/$1 it was traded on Thursday.
It was observed that the Naira came under pressure during the trading session with the value of transactions rising by 56.2 per cent or $60.7 million at the market window to $168.62 million from the preceding day’s $107.92 million.
In the same vein, the local currency depreciated against the American currency at the interbank segment of the market yesterday by 5 kobo or 0.1 per cent to N411.95/$1 from the previous day’s N411.90/$1.
However, the local currency lost 60 kobo against the Pound Sterling to trade at N552.75/£1 in contrast to N553.35/£1 it closed on Thursday and against the Euro, it depreciated by N2.64 to N448.79/€1 from N446.15/€1.
In a related development, the crypto market bled yesterday, with the Federal Reserve intending to withdraw stimulus from the market, riskier assets in the world such as the assets have suffered from over $1 trillion lost in market capitalisation so far.
Russia also added to the fear that seems to be gripping cryptocurrencies as the country’s central bank issued a harsh report on cryptocurrencies, including a potential ban on mining and trading.
Bitcoin (BTC), the largest digital asset, lost more than 9 per cent on Friday and dropped below $36,000, its lowest level since July.
Since its peak in November, it has lost over 45 per cent of its value as it traded at the Naira equivalent of N20,376,819.45.
Other digital currencies have suffered just as much, if not more, with Dash (DASH) plunging 19.7 per cent to trade at N57,825.35, Litecoin (LTC) moved down by 15.9 per cent to trade at N61,392.61, while Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 15.6 per cent to trade at N152,054.69.
Cardano (ADA) went south by 13.1 per cent to trade at N650, Ripple (XRP) fell by 13.0 per cent to trade at N350.32, Dogecoin (DOGE) declined by 11.3 per cent to sell at N84.80, Tron (TRX) depreciated by 5.9 per cent to N35.99, Ethereum (ETH) made a 5.0 per cent loss to sell at N1,699,900.00, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) made a 0.2 per cent depreciation to sell for N575.01.
Oil Again Falls Under Pressure of US Inventories Rise, Profit Taking
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil prices closed in the bearish territory on Friday, falling for another session pressured by an unexpected rise in US crude and fuel inventories after investors took profits after the benchmarks touched seven-year highs earlier in the week.
Brent crude dropped 49 cents or 0.55 per cent to trade at $87.89 per barrel while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) lost 41 cents or 0.48 per cent to settle at $85.14 per barrel.
However, both crude benchmarks rose for a fifth week in a row, gaining around 2 per cent this week, showing that prices were up more than 10 per cent so far this year on concerns over tightening supplies.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the first US crude build since November in the week just as fuel inventories hit an 11-month high in the world’s largest oil consumer.
Crude inventories rose by 515,000 barrels in the week to January 14 to 413.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations of a 938,000-barrel drop.
Earlier in the week, both Brent and WTI rose to their highest levels since October 2014.
But the latest pullback happened due to a combination of pre-weekend profit-taking and the absence of fresh bullish catalysts.
Analysts also said they expect the current pressure on prices to be limited owing to supply concerns and rising demand.
Tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East are also heightening fears of supply disruption as top US and Russian diplomats made no major breakthrough at talks on Ukraine on Friday.
There was, however, an agreement to keep talking to try to resolve a crisis that has stoked fears of a military conflict.
Amid these, there are forecasts that prices will perform their best in recent times this year due to low spare OPEC+ capacity, low inventories and geopolitical tensions rising.
Analysts at Bank of America said they expect to see Brent at around $120 a barrel in mid-2022.
UBS expects crude oil demand to reach record highs this year and for Brent to trade in a range of $80-$90 a barrel for now.
Morgan Stanley has raised its Brent price forecast to $100 a barrel in the third quarter, up from its previous projection of $90.
Meanwhile, in the United States, energy firms cut oil rigs this week for the first time in 13 weeks.
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