Group Warns FG Over Nigeria’s Imminent Expulsion From Egmont Group
By Destiny Ugorji
A civil society organization, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) has warned Nigeria’s Federal Government to immediately act on the report of the Committee to harmonize issues around the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency Bill, to save the nation from imminent expulsion from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
Executive Director of MIIVOC, Dr Walter Duru, who gave the warning while addressing newsmen in Abuja, Tuesday, expressed shock at what he described as the desperation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to retain control of the NFIU, against the interest of the country and international best practice.
He called on the Federal Government to call the anti-graft agency to order, before it throws Nigeria back to the dark days of being on the list of high risk jurisdictions in the world.
“The crux of the matter is the absence of autonomy for the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). Nigeria was suspended at the Egmont Group meeting held in China in July, 2017 following the refusal of Nigeria to make NFIU autonomous in its funding, operations and management of financial intelligence. The failure of Nigeria to pass a law making the NFIU independent is the main issue.
“If Nigeria fails to comply with the group’s demand for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU by March, 2018, the country may be expelled from the global body, which provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering and terrorist financing activities.
“When expelled, Nigeria will no longer benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other over one hundred and fifty member-countries, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad will be hampered.
“Another major consequence will be the blacklisting of Nigeria in international finance, and this could affect the issuance of MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards by Nigerian banks. In fact, financial instruments from Nigeria may not be honoured abroad.
“It could also affect the international rating of Nigerian financial institutions, restricting their access to some major international transactions. Nigeria’s membership of the Egmont Group ensured the removal of Nigerian banks from the blacklist of international finance.
“The blacklisting had prevented the banks from engaging in correspondent banking with foreign institutions and also denied Nigerians access to foreign credit cards.
“Now, the situation is that the 8th Senate has passed a version of the NFIA Bill, which wants the Agency domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, with full autonomy. The House of Representatives passed a different version, proposing that it remains in the EFCC.
“A Committee was set up by the Federal Government to harmonize the differences. The Committee submitted its report late last year and till today, nothing has been done about it.
“Nigeria is at the verge of being expelled from the Egmont group of Financial Intelligence Units. Specifically, in March, 2018, it will take a miracle for Nigeria to escape expulsion from the Egmont Group.
“The controversy over where it should be domiciled is needless, as we already have a clear guide. The version passed by the present Senate can save the situation. The surest way forward is to adopt the Senate version, produce a clean copy and present for immediate assent by the President.
“Anything outside this will fall short of the Egmont standard and place Nigeria in a disadvantaged position. The politics of wanting to continue to control the NFIU by the EFCC is self-serving and will land the country in a deeper mess.
“The last Egmont group statement about Nigeria is very clear. The issue of autonomy for Nigeria FIU is the crux of the matter. The statement reads in part: ‘……. Nigeria shall remain excommunicated until its commitments to the international community on the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing are met, including the specific issues related to the autonomy of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.” At this stage, we are talking about outright expulsion of the country from the group. This will spell doom for the country.
“The Federal Government must call the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission-EFCC to order now, before it is too late. The implications of expelling Nigeria from the Egmont Group are far-reaching. Nigeria will fully return to the list of high risk jurisdiction countries of the world, if the EFCC is not called to order.
“The argument that if the FIU is removed from EFCC, Nigeria will be expelled is the direct opposite of the situation and amounts to outright misrepresentation of facts. Countries like the United Kingdom have had reasons to move their FIU from Serious and Organized Crime Agency- SOCA to National Crime Agency- NCA. Just the same way Nigeria desperately needs to move its FIU away from the EFCC. We need an FIU that enjoys autonomy. The Egmont Group of FIUs and Financial Action Task Force-FATF shall never dictate for any country, where to situate its FIU. There is no such precedence and they have always made this clear. There is no alternative to NFIU autonomy. The surest way out of the looming humiliating expulsion of Nigeria is that the authorities call the EFCC to order. They must stop spewing falsehood and steer clear the FIU,” he said.
JUST IN: DAAR Communications Chairman Raymond Dokpesi Dies
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Chairman of DAAR Communications, Mr Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.
The media entrepreneur reportedly died on Monday after he suffered from a stroke.
It was said that he was admitted to a hospital in Abuja and was being looked after, but he gave up the ghost today.
He was aged 71 and was survived by his wives and children.
Until his demise, Mr Dokpesi, who hailed from Edo State, was a chief of the opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was also a close ally of the PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Mr Atiku Abubakar.
He established the popular television station, Africa Independent Television (AIT), and RayPower FM stations.
Confirming this development, the family of the businessman in a statement signed by his son, Mr Raymond Dokpesi Jnr, said, “It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of High Chief Raymond Aleogho Anthony Dokpesi (Ezomo of Weppa-Wanno Kingdom) who passed away on May 29, 2023. High Chief Dokpesi was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
“High Chief Dokpesi was also a respected and accomplished businessman, a pioneer in the media industry, and a philanthropist who dedicated his life to the service of his country and his community. His legacy will live on through the impact he made on the lives of many.
“The Dokpesi family is grateful for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time. We ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of our patriarch. We also ask for privacy during this time as we grieve together as a family.
“The family will release further details on the funeral arrangements in due course.
“May his soul rest in peace.”
Full Text of President Tinubu’s Inaugural Speech
My Fellow Citizens,
I stand before you honoured to assume the sacred mandate you have given me. My love for this nation is abiding. My confidence in its people, unwavering. And my faith in God Almighty, absolute. I know that His hand shall provide the needed moral strength and clarity of purpose in those instances when we seem to have reached the limits of our human capacity.
This day is bold and majestic yet bright and full of spirit, as is our precious nation.
As a nation, we have long ago decided to march beyond the dimness of night into the open day of renewed national hope.
The question we now ask ourselves is whether to remain faithful to the work inherent in building a better society or retreat into the shadows of our unmet potential.
For me, there is but one answer. We are too great a nation and too grounded as a people to rob ourselves of our finest destiny.
This nation’s journey has been shaped by the prayers of millions, and the collective sacrifices of us all.
We have endured hardships that would have made other societies crumble.
Yet, we have shouldered the heavy burden to arrive at this sublime moment where the prospect of a better future merges with our improved capacity to create that future.
To the surprise of many but not to ourselves, we have more firmly established this land as a democracy in both word and deed.
The peaceful transition from one government to another is now our political tradition. This handover symbolizes our trust in God, our enduring faith in representative governance and our belief in our ability to reshape this nation into the society it was always meant to be.
Here, permit me to say a few words to my predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr President, you have been an honest, patriotic leader who has done his best for the nation you love. On a more personal note, you are a worthy partner and friend. May History be kind to you.
For many years, Nigeria’s critics have trafficked the rumour that our nation will break apart, even perish.
Yet here we are. We have stumbled at times, but our resilience and diversity have kept us going.
Our burdens may make us bend at times, but they shall never break us.
Instead, we stand forth as Africa’s most populous nation and as the best hope and strongest champion of the Black Race.
As citizens, we declare as one unified people devoted to one unified national cause, that as long as this world exists, NIGERIA SHALL EXIST.
Today, Fate and Destiny join together to place the torch of human progress in our very hands. We dare not let it slip.
We lift high this torch so that it might shine on every household and in every heart that calls itself Nigerian. We hold this beam aloft because it lights our path with compassion, brotherhood, and peace. May this great light never extinguish.
Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate. We shall reach out to all but never put down a single person for holding views contrary to our own.
We are here to further mend and heal this nation, not tear and injure it.
In this vein, may I offer a few comments regarding the election that brought us to this juncture. It was a hard fought contest. And it was also fairly won. Since the advent of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria has not held an election of better quality.
The outcome reflected the will of the people. However, my victory does not render me any more Nigerian than my opponents. Nor does it render them any less patriotic.
They shall forever be my fellow compatriots. And I will treat them as such. They represent important constituencies and concerns that wisdom dare not ignore.
Some have taken their concerns to court. Seeking legal redress is their right and I fully defend their exercise of this right. This is the essence of the rule of law.
Over six decades ago, our founding fathers gave bravely of themselves to place Nigeria on the map as an independent nation.
We must never allow the labor of those who came before us to wither in vain but to blossom and bring forth a better reality.
Let us take the next great step in the journey they began and believed in.
Today, let us recommit our very selves to placing Nigeria in our hearts as the indispensable home for each and every one of us regardless of creed, ethnicity, or place of birth.
My supporters, I thank you. To those who voted otherwise, I extend my hand across the political divide. I ask you to grasp it in national affinity and brotherhood. For me, political coloration has faded away. All I see are Nigerians.
May we uphold these fitting and excellent notions as the new Nigerian ideal.
My fellow compatriots,
The Nigerian ideal which I speak of is more than just an improvement in economic and other statistics. These things are important; but they can never convey the fullness of our story.
Our mission is to improve our way of life in a manner that nurtures our humanity, encourages compassion toward one another, and duly rewards our collective effort to resolve the social ills that seek to divide us.
Our constitution and laws give us a nation on paper. We must work harder at bringing these noble documents to life by strengthening the bonds of economic collaboration, social cohesion, and cultural understanding. Let us develop a shared sense of fairness and equity.
The South must not only seek good for itself but must understand that its interests are served when good comes to the North. The North must see the South likewise.
Whether from the winding creeks of the Niger Delta, the vastness of the northern savannah, the boardrooms of Lagos, the bustling capital of Abuja, or the busy markets of Onitsha, you are all my people. As your president, I shall serve with prejudice toward none but compassion and amity towards all.
In the coming days and weeks, my team will publicly detail key aspects of our programme. Today, permit me to outline in broad terms a few initiatives that define our concept of progressive good governance in furtherance of the Nigerian ideal:
The principles that will guide our administration are simple:
1. Nigeria will be impartially governed according to the constitution and the rule of law.
2. We shall defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability of our country and our subregion.
3. We shall remodel our economy to bring about growth and development through job creation, food security and an end of extreme poverty.
4. In our administration, Women and youth will feature prominently.
5. Our government will continue to take proactive steps such as championing a credit culture to discourage corruption while strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the various anti-corruption agencies.
Security shall be the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amidst insecurity and violence.
To effectively tackle this menace, we shall reform both our security doctrine and its architecture.
We shall invest more in our security personnel, and this means more than an increase in number. We shall provide, better training, equipment, pay and firepower.
On the economy, we will target a higher GDP growth and to significantly reduce unemployment.
We intend to accomplish this by taking the following steps:
First, budgetary reform stimulating the economy without engendering inflation will be instituted.
Second, industrial policy will utilize the full range of fiscal measures to promote domestic manufacturing and lessen import dependency.
Third, electricity will become more accessible and affordable to businesses and homes alike. Power generation should nearly double and transmission and distribution networks improved. We will encourage states to develop local sources as well.
I have a message for our investors, local and foreign: our government shall review all their complaints about multiple taxation and various anti-investment inhibitions.
We shall ensure that investors and foreign businesses repatriate their hard earned dividends and profits home.
My administration must create meaningful opportunities for our youth. We shall honour our campaign commitment of one million new jobs in the digital economy.
Our government also shall work with the National Assembly to fashion an omnibus Jobs and Prosperity bill. This bill will give our administration the policy space to embark on labour-intensive infrastructural improvements, encourage light industry and provide improved social services for the poor, elderly and vulnerable.
Rural incomes shall be secured by commodity exchange boards guaranteeing minimal prices for certain crops and animal products. A nationwide programme for storage and other facilities to reduce spoilage and waste will be undertaken.
Agricultural hubs will be created throughout the nation to increase production and engage in value-added processing. The livestock sector will be introduced to best modern practices and steps taken to minimize the perennial conflict over land and water resources in this sector.
Through these actions, food shall be made more abundant yet less costly. Farmers shall earn more while the average Nigerian pays less.
We shall continue the efforts of the Buhari administration on infrastructure. Progress toward national networks of roads, rail and ports shall get priority attention.
We commend the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime which has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor. Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.
Monetary policy needs thorough housecleaning. The Central Bank must work towards a unified exchange rate. This will direct funds away from arbitrage into meaningful investment in the plant, equipment and jobs that power the real economy.
Interest rates need to be reduced to increase investment and consumer purchasing in ways that sustain the economy at a higher level.
Whatever merits it had in concept, the currency swap was too harshly applied by the CBN given the number of unbanked Nigerians. The policy shall be reviewed. In the meantime, my administration will treat both currencies as legal tender.
Given the world in which we reside, please permit a few comments regarding foreign policy.
The crisis in Sudan and the turn from democracy by several nations in our immediate neighbourhood are of pressing concern.
As such, my primary foreign policy objective must be the peace and stability of the West African subregion and the African continent. We shall work with ECOWAS, the AU and willing partners in the international community to end extant conflicts and to resolve new ones.
As we contain threats to peace, we shall also retool our foreign policy to more actively lead the regional and continental quest for collective prosperity.
This is the proudest day of my life. But this day does not belong to me. It belongs to you, the people of Nigeria.
On this day, Nigeria affirms its rightful place among the world’s great democracies. There, Nigeria shall reside forever.
The course of our past and the promise of the future have brought us to this exceptional moment.
In this spirit, I ask you to join me in making Nigeria a more perfect nation and democracy such that the Nigerian ideal becomes and forever remains the Nigerian reality.
With full confidence in our ability, I declare that these things are within our proximate reach because my name is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and I am the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
May God bless you and May He bless our beloved land.
Tinubu Sworn-in as Nigeria’s 16th President
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria on Monday got a new President as the declared winner of the 2023 presidential elections, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu, took the oath of office to succeed the outgone President, Mr Muhammadu Buhari, who completed his eight-year tenure.
With this, he becomes Nigeria’s 16th president and will hold the office till 2027, when he can contest for the position again till 2031 if re-elected, according to constitutional requirements.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, administered the oath of office to Mr Tinubu and his deputy, Mr Kashim Shettima, at exactly 10:28 am and 10:38 am respectively.
The swearing-in ceremony was witnessed by Mr Tinubu’s predecessors, including Mr Buhari and his wife, Mrs Aisha, as well as Mr Goodluck Jonathan. Mr Shettima’s wife, Mrs Nana, also witnessed the oath-taking ceremony.
African leaders who witnessed the historic event at the venue beautifully decorated with the green-white-green colours of the nation were the new Prime Minister of Gabon, Mr Billy By-Nze; the President of the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire, Mr Alassane Ouattara; Ghana President, Mr Nana Akufo-Addo; and Rwanda President, Mr Paul Kagame.
Also at the venue of the inauguration ground were dignitaries, including African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, as well as contemporaries – Mr Femi Otedola, Mr Abdulsamad Rabiu, and Mr Jim Ovia.
Others present included service chiefs, heads of security agencies, governors, former governors, serving and former Ministers, as well as chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
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