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Nigerian Businessman Furious Over Allegation of N51bn Fraud

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Nasiru Danu

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A businessman in Nigeria, Mr Nasiru Danu, has expressed his displeasure over a report linking him with an alleged N51 billion fraud.

A popular online news platform, Sahara Reporters, had claimed in a report published on March 5, 2021, that Mr Danu connived with the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Hameed Ali, to rob the nation of the said amount.

This did not go down well with the businessman, who is now considering taking a legal action against the online newspaper for defamation of character.

Already, the lawyers of the philanthropist have written to the management of Sahara Reporters to retract the “defamatory publication on all its distribution platforms” within seven days.

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The media organisation has also been asked to tender an unreserved apology to Mr Danu and must be “published in three national dailies for seven consecutive days.”

They warned that failure to comply might see Sahara Reporters facing a tough legal battle as Mr Danu was ready for a showdown.

They described the report as not only false but a fabrication as the story was published without the presentation of facts to back their claims.

Sahara Reporters had said in its story that Mr Danu, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) defrauded the Nigerian government of N51 billion meant to improve the revenue of the customs.

“Some top customs operatives and one Alhaji Nasiru Haladu Danu shared N51 billion. N2.5 billion out of the fund was transferred to a foundation owned by President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter.

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“Comptroller-General Hameed Ali has been on low key since the scandal broke out. They have him by the vice grip,” the online news platform had quoted an unnamed source as saying.

But the man responded in a letter dated March 6, 2021, to SaharaReporters through his lawyer, Mr Bode Olanipekun of Wole Olanipekun & Co., that he was not “part of any fraud including that alleged in your publication as involving N51 billion.”

“In the same vein, our client asserts, in the most vehement manner possible, that he did not transfer, or know about any transfer of N2.5 billion to any foundation, which he is purportedly a signatory to,” he further said.

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“Our client’s position is that your publication was made, either with actual or constructive knowledge of the falsity of its content or without any effort to verify the authenticity of such damaging stories which any media outlet should be loath to publish.

“This is obvious, for instance, from the paucity of details as to time, place, account details, etc, in the publication. Such action is clearly indicative of bad faith and/or, recklessness, with respect,” the letter added.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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FG Blames Poor Management for Apapa Port Congestion

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Apapa Port

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has said terminal operators responsible for the inefficiency of the Apapa Port must work towards its total reconstruction and reorganisation.

This was made by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, citing the drastic change in the Port on the day the President visited to commission the Deep Blue Project.

“I was in the train with the president on that day and noticed that everything had disappeared, even inside the port that looked like a marketplace was very well organized, no persons were found loitering about, no trucks. What it shows is that the problem of the seaport is the problem of efficiency.

“If they had the capacity in just one night, because I was there the previous evening, and when I came back in the morning, everything had disappeared; If that can happen in one night, it means that the problem is management, nothing else.

“Do we need to wait for the President to come before we can be efficient?” Mr Amaechi queried.

“What I’ve done was to have a meeting with the terminal operators, and I told them that they have to contribute to the reconstruction of the Apapa Seaport.

“We must rebuild the Apapa Seaport, taking into cognizance all the issues that we are seeing now that is frustrating the seaport, like where do you park the trucks, how many trucks are coming into the seaport at what point in time?

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“How can a person come into the seaport who has no business being there, what is he doing at the seaport? The seaport is a security area and it is not for everybody, even me, after my tenure as Minister, I’m not entitled to go into the seaport unless I have business in the seaport,” he added.

The Minister noted that the Ministry of Transportation will partner with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to solve the problem, adding that freighting of cargoes from the seaport through the rail, when it begins, will also help in arresting the situation at the port.

“We are going to partner with customs because they are largely involved. Between them and the NPA, they are the operators (or regulators) of the Seaport and see how to arrest this situation. I believe that when we begin to freight cargoes from the seaport through the rail, we’ll reduce some of the challenges that we have at the seaport,’ he said.

Mr Amaechi also said the recently launched Deep Blue Project is overseen by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, would not only boost security in the country’s waters but will also improve trade in the Gulf of Guinea and reduce the cost of production for the oil industry while improving revenue for Nigeria’s economy.

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“Before we came, various contractors were contracted to provide security for oil companies in the water. There was a case between the government and OMSL in which the company provides about three or four boats to the Navy and they collect $2,500 per vessel for the first day and $1,500 for about 30 days.

In a year, like in 2020, they made about $67 million, and when you hand over the security of a country to individuals, it becomes very challenging and irresponsible. So, the president kindly approved that the police, army, air force, and other security agencies should be involved in providing security with the equipment that we have provided.

“We have about three helicopters, two fixed-wing planes, 17 interceptor boats, two vessels, drones, and more; what it does is that it gives you information about where the criminals are, those who go and destroy pipes just because they are looking for oil to bunker. It provides you that information, then you deter them or arrest them.

“So, we are able to provide security in the coastal region, both on land and on the sea. Now, those who provide the coastal security on land will be the Nigerian Army and the Police, and we’ve provided them with all the necessary tools they need.

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“We have ammunitions, we have vehicles, like Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and all that for patrol by the coast. All that, we believe will begin to yield fruits between now and next year.”

He added that by the time the government provide the necessary maritime security, the economy will improve as a result of more money coming into the economy through oil.

“That’s the impact it will have when it comes to the Deep Blue project. In fact, the Israelis who did the training said in 6 months to 1 year, if there is no improvement in the economy in terms of how much comes in, both to NIMASA, NPA, and the oil industry, come back to us and we’ll be willing to refund.

“But you know it is simple mathematics; It is true that the moment you can take away the criminals from the water, and the contractors from the water, then the cost of security which is borne either by NNPC or the oil companies will be part of what will come back to us as income. Then on land, in all our rail and train coaches, you have enough armed policemen in any trip we are making to withstand any criminal attack.”

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Kano Approves Siting of AKK Gas Pipeline Project in Tamburawa

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kano state map

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Kano State Government has approved Tamburawa in Dawakin Kudu Local Government Area, along Zaria Road as a planning location for the siting of the proposed gas industrial layout under the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC’s) Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (APP) pipeline project.

This was disclosed by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Muhammad Garba, after the State Executive Council meeting.

He explained that the approval was given to the state government NNPC-AKK Gas Pipeline Project Delivery and Gas Industrialization Committee (KNSG-PDIC) to set up its planning location at Tamburawa adjacent to Challawa Water Works where the Kano/AKK Terminal Gas station is proposed to be built.

Mr Garba stated that while a draft of the proposed layout has been produced, the council directed the state Bureau for Land Management to liaise with the committee and come up with final documents for the new industrial layout.

He also revealed that the council has ratified the award of contract for the reconstruction of Challawa Industrial Layout Road network at the cost of N393,237,697.00 million.

He pointed out that the road is of vital economic importance to the economy of the state in view of its proximity to the ongoing construction of Dala Inland Dry Port at Zawachiki that is expected to impact the development of manufacturing and industrial activities when it commences operation.

The council, he added, has given approval for the release of N23, 883, 464.45 million to the state Radio Corporation for the supply and installation of dehydrators, binary power supply and exciter for its transmitters at Jogana Transmission Station.

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Mr Garba noted that the two components, which are essential items for the effective functioning of the transmission, have all gone faulty beyond repairs.

The Commissioner also disclosed that approval has also been given by the council for the payment of N80, 000.000.00 million one year allowances from a backlog of four years’ bursary allowances to the 59 MBBS, B.sc Masters and PhD. Kano state-sponsored students at the Near East University, Cyprus.

He said the council also directed the government verification team to authenticate the students and their academic performance before the implementation of a recommendation for instalment payment of the cumulative sum of N1, 123, 184, 893.5 billion as of November 26, 2020, to the university in two tranches of 50 per cent.

Mr Garba further revealed that with the setting in of the rainy season, the council has approved the sum of N85, 230, 234.00 million for the conduct of the annual drainage clearance exercise in the metropolis.

The Commissioner said the measure is to avert flooding from siltation of drainages as a result of indiscriminate waste disposal by people which affect the free flow of water, posing threat to life and property.

He said the council has also approved the substitution of the ministry of environment’s nursery located at Rano town to a new site within the local government.

The Commissioner said the decision was informed by the fact that the nursery has been inactive for decades due to lack of reliable source of water supply, persistently being encroached by settlement and request from member representing Rano constituency at the state House of Assembly to construct an ultra-modern Jumu’at Mosque and Islamiyya school at the location.

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The council, he said has given approval for the payment of N32, 610, 000.00 as bereaved allowances to 664 deceased civil servants of various grades in the state who passed away from 2017 to February 2021.

He said payment of bereaved family allowance due to their families/heirs for the civil servants who died in active service is in line with extant civil service rule.

The state government also announced that as part of efforts to improve health care delivery services, the council has given approval for the provision of uniforms (yards) for 17, 480 staff of various health cadres at the cost of N193, 639, 136.71million.

He listed some of the beneficiaries of the two sets of uniforms to be provided to include doctors, nurses, midwives, laboratory scientists, technology/technical assistants, image scanning/radiographers/x-ray technicians, physiotherapist, a technical assistant, dental therapist/technical assistant, dietician/nutritionist, among others.

The Commissioner also indicated that the council has approved contract review from N331, 889, 971.51 million to N370, 773, 987.95 million based on a new harmonized rate for general renovation works at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Permanent Orientation Campsite, Kusalla Dam in Karaye local government area.

He said the contract was initially awarded in 2016 and as work progresses, prices of materials and labour charges skyrocketed which the contractor lamented, adding that the council has given approval for the state government to partner with the Sugarcane Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria for the cultivation of sugarcane in commercial quantity in the country.

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He said the measure would go a long way in creating young farmers and entrepreneurs which is in line with the state government policy of skills acquisition programme that will uplift thousands of youth out of poverty and increase revenue generation for the state.

The commissioner also announced approval by the council for additional works in the contract for the upgrading of Gidan Shettima to serve as Emirate Council Headquarters for the five Emirs in the state at the cost of N49,893,466,00 million.

The additional work, he said, include the provision of office of the chairman, construction of additional floor to accommodate offices for four Emirs, increase the size of the council chamber and public gallery to adequately accommodate expanded members of the council and construction of a mosque and car park.

The Commissioner disclosed that the council has ratified the approval for the renovation and upgrading of Dawakin Tofa District Head Palace in Dawakin Tofa local government area.

He said the contract for the renovation exercise, which was initially awarded at the cost of N78, 801, 280.82 million, had to be revised to N99,340,773.87 million as a result of some additional vital works introduced that included among others, main Fada, gallery, Hakimi wing, VIP guest wing, new wall, Shamakhi, Generator house.

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Global Financial Wealth Hits $250trn Despite COVID-19

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global financial wealth

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A new report has shown that despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, global financial wealth reached an all-time high of $250 trillion.

In the new report released by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), it was revealed that last year, household savings rose and markets showed unexpected resilience in the face of the health crisis.

It was observed that in the period under consideration, many wealth management clients embraced alternative investments in their quest for higher returns, shifting away from low-yield debt securities.

As part of this trend, real assets led primarily by real estate ownership reached an all-time high of $235 trillion.

Nevertheless, Asia, which has the largest concentration of wealth in real assets ($84 trillion, 64% of the regional total) will see financial asset growth exceed real asset growth (7.9% versus 6.7%) in coming years. In particular, investment funds in the region will become the fastest-growing financial asset class, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.6% through 2025.

In the report, BCG identified two attractive markets for wealth managers. One consists of individuals with simple investment needs and financial wealth between $100,000 and $3 million. This “simple-needs segment” comprises 331 million individuals worldwide, holds $59 trillion in investable wealth and has the potential to contribute $118 billion to the global wealth revenue pool.

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The report, titled Global Wealth 2021: When Clients Take the Lead, also revealed that despite the pandemic’s enduring financial impact, global prosperity and wealth grew significantly throughout the crisis and are likely to continue to expand significantly over the next five years, in line with the emerging economic recovery.

It was disclosed that North America, Asia (excluding Japan), and Western Europe will be the leading generators of financial wealth globally, accounting for 87 per cent of new financial wealth growth worldwide between now and 2025.

Anna Zakrzewski, a BCG managing director and partner, global leader of the firm’s wealth management segment, and a co-author of the report said, “Wealth managers often underserve those in the simple-needs segment with a standardized set of products, and the result is a poor client experience with no wow factor.

“This is essentially a missed opportunity. To better serve this key segment, wealth managers must embrace a new approach that lets them reach a larger audience in a cost-effective and scalable way, but with a highly personalized offering.”

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Retirees, one of the world’s fastest-growing demographics, are another appealing market. Many are underserved and adversely impacted by the “advisory gap” that prevails during the retirement phase of life.

Today, individuals over 65 own $29.3 trillion in financial assets accessible to wealth managers. That figure will grow at a CAGR of close to 7% over the next five years, enabling wealth managers globally to target nearly $41.1 trillion in financial wealth by 2025. By 2050, 1.5 billion people globally will fall into the 65+ category, representing an enormous source of wealth.

In addition to the simple-needs and retirees segments, the “ultra” wealth category—individuals whose personal wealth exceeds $100 million—expanded in 2020, with 6000 people joining the 60,000-strong cohort, which has seen year-on-year growth of 9% since 2015. The category currently holds a combined $22 trillion in investable wealth, 15% of the world’s total.

According to the report, China is on track to overtake the US as the country with the largest concentration of ultras by the end of the decade. If investable wealth continues to rise there at its current annual rate of 13%, China will host $10.4 trillion in ultra assets by 2029, more than any other market in the world. The US will be close behind, with a forecasted total of $9.9 trillion in such wealth by 2029.

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The faces of the ultras are changing too, with the rise of the next-generation segment. These individuals, between 20 and 50 years of age, have longer investment horizons, a greater appetite for risk, and often a desire to use their wealth to create positive social impact as well as earn solid returns. Many wealth managers are not yet ready to serve these new ultras.

“High-growth markets represent a massive opportunity, but wealth managers must build a genuine understanding of local differences and also key demographic changes,” said BCG’s Zakrzewski. “For example, women now account for 12% of ultras, most of whom are based in the US, Germany, and China. The next-gen segment is also going to be an influential driver of future growth in the next decade or so. Whether it’s a simple-needs or ultra-high-net-worth client, managers need to offer a personalized service in order to effectively capture the next wave of growth.”

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