Rivers: Army Uncovers 9 Reservoirs,5m Litres Of  Stolen Crude Oil

Mohammed Shosanya

The Nigerian Army, 6 Division in Port Harcourt has on Wednesday discovered another nine reservoirs containing over five million litres of stolen crude in Rivers State.

The reservoirs were discovered in a thick forest at Obaoma and Uzuoma villages in Kom-kom Community, Oyigbo local government area of Rivers State had 15 boilers used in refining the stolen crude.

The General Officer Commanding, GOC, 6 Division Nigerian Army and Land Component Commander, Joint Task Force, South South, Operation Delta Safe, Major General Jamal Abdussalam, while conducting newsmen around the illegal refining site said the feat followed credible intelligence gathered by officers of the division.

He said the 6 Division Nigerian Army would not relent in ensuring that the fight against illegal oil bunkering is won in Rivers and other Niger Delta States.

He added: “In continuation of our operations to destroy illegal refineries and connections within our area of responsibility, and based on credible intelligence early today, 31st January, 2024, our troops raided this location.

“I thought we will not see anything more than the last raid we carried out in Odagwa, but unfortunately, we are seeing very sad and massive illegal activities taking place in this area also.

“Today, we discovered over 15 boilers and 9 reservoirs. From what we have seen here, the crude oil that has been stolen and reserved here for processing is over five million litres.”

He further disclosed that his team intercepted about five large wooden boats that contained upward of about 200 to 300 litres of crude oil along the Imo River leading to the forest.

“On our way here, we have met more than five large Cotonou boats capable of taking upwards of 200 to 300 litres filled with crude oil.

“It is indeed very sad that this activities has continued. We will not get tired, we will continue doing our job until we get rid of these activities in this area.”

The Army regretted that the illegal business has been aided by professionals who are hell bent on sabotaging the efforts of the government.

He said:”As you can see the facilities here, it is not common person on the road that will come to set up something like this, it needs money, it needs expertise and careful setting beyond the labourers we arrested last time.

“Our message has always remained the same, this activity is criminal, illegal and dirty. We call on these criminals who are into these activities to embrace peace and engage in legitimate business like other Nigerians and allow the government to do what it is supposed to do.”

Court Stops Police,Others From Arresting Rivers Chief Of staff

Mohammed Shosanya

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, has granted a motion ex-parte filed by Edison Ehie, Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House against the Nigerian Police.

Ehie had approached the court urging it to restrain the police or other security agencies from arresting, detaining and harassing him over allegations of his involvement in the invasion of the Rivers state House of Assembly.

Ehie,was a former lawmaker representing Ahoada East, before he voluntarily resigned as a member of the 10th assembly and was later appointment as the Chief of staff Government House by Governor Fubara.

About 25 lawmakers led by Martins Amaewhule, loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, had written criminal petitions against to the Rivers state Police command linking Edison Ehie to the attack and burning of the hallowed chambers of the Rivers state House of Assembly by unknown hoodlums.

In the petition,the lawmakers had demanded that the police to arrest, prosecute Ehie for his alleged involvement in the burning of the hallowed chamber of the house of assembly.

On October 29 an explosion rocked the Rivers State House of Assembly complex, with some properties in the chamber destroyed.

The incident occurred when some suspected arsonists threw an explosive into the complex around 9.30pm, causing a fire outbreak in the hallowed chamber of the assembly complex.

The explosion occurred prior to a failed impeachment attempt on the state Governor of Rivers State, Siminalayi Fubara, by some 25 lawmakers loyal to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Presiding Judge, Justice Sika Aprioku after granting the order, adjourned till February 6, 2024 for hearing of the substantive application.

Currency Swap,Others Frustrated Our 2023 Revenue Target- NCS

Mohammed Shosanya

Comptroller General of Nigerian Customs Service,Bashir Adeniyi has said the combined effect of the 2023 general election, the naira redesign policy and other economic decisions of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration made it impossible for the Nigeria Customs Service to meet its 2023 revenue target.

He stated this at an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise on Wednesday.

The interactive session was on the review of the Service’s 2023 budget performance and its 2024 proposed budget.

He said: “The uncertainties and anxiety towards 2023 elections and suspension of excise on single use plastics, carbonated drinks, telecommunications VAT affected Customs revenue.

He added that, other major causes were the cash crunch, currency redesign which he said also contributed a lot to the revenue in the first half of 2023 as Cargo throughput also reduced drastically in the year under review.

Adeniyi said Nigeria Customs Service generated a total sum of N3.21 trn in the year 2023.

Adeniyi told the lawmakers that though the service targeted the sum of N3.67 trn in the outgone year, it was only able to generate N3.21 trn owing to a combination of factors.

He declared that men and officers of the NCS will work diligently to generate N5.08 trn for the nation in 2024.

He said:“In 2023, the revenue target for the service was N3.67tran and remarkably, the service collected a total revenue of N3.21trn from January to December 2023.

“When we compare what we collected in 2023 to what was projected as our targets, there was a negative variance of N462.9 bn, which represents 12.62 per cent of what was approved as revenue targets.

“Though we didn’t achieve what we projected, but we want to say with all sense of modesty that we did our best. And when we consider all factors, we will appreciate the fact that we at NCS did the best we could.

He listed import of goods under the common external tariff , import duty exemption certificate, uncertainties and anxieties as some of the factors that contributed to the inability of the service to meet its revenue target for 2023.

“One of the factors was the huge import of goods under Chapter 99 of the common external tariff, which resulted in a revenue loss of over N2trn. When we compare this to the total revenue that we had, that was a whopping 63.35 per cent of our total revenue collection.

“Also, revenue due to import duty exemption certificates and other statutory provisions for the year (2023) was also in the region of N1.8 trn which was about 58.52 per cent of the total revenue generated. Cargo throughput dropped from 17.2 per cent to 15 2 per cent during the year,” he added.

“For 2024 fiscal year, this target stands at 5.079 trillion and this consists of 3.423 trn in federation accounts, N554.35 bn for non-federation accounts, and N1.101 trn for import Value Added Tax,” he added, noting that “When we compare what was targeted in 2023 and 2024, this year’s target is higher by N1.41 trn, or approximately 27.75 per cent over the 2023 budget.

The NCS boss identified some key assumptions he said would assist the service in meeting its financial targets for 2024, saying, “We are hoping that the 2024 fiscal policy measure would be rolled out in good time so that it would help the implementation. The second is tied to the issue of national single window. The project which has lingered on for quite some time is now being pursued very vigorously for better process ammonization and standardization. The inauguration of the steering committee has been approved by Mr President, and I’m very sure in the next few days, the steering committee would be inaugurated.

“The third driver is the introduction of the Vehicle Registration System and the Vehicle Identification Number valuation application, which has a huge potential for reducing undervaluation and vehicle tax evasion, thereby improving our revenue collection.”

Adeniyi also told the committee that NCS proposed a budget expenditure of N706.43bn in the 2024 fiscal year. This sum, he noted would be sourced from multiple avenues, saying “We hope to start the implementation of drawing from the 4 per cent Free On Board in 2024 and from this source, we expect an inflow of N623.83 bn. From 2% VAT share for NCS, we project N22.02 billion.

The last is funds that we are rolling over from ongoing capital projects, amounting to a total of N60.58 bn. This will give us a total of N706.43bn.”

Chairman of the Committee, Leke Abejide pledged the readiness of the lawmakers to help reposition the NCS in its task of realizing its revenue target for the nation.

He charged the NCS boss to prioritise e-customs and the integration of Artificial Intelligence in manning the nation’s border stations.

COVID-19:Reps Direct Federal Fire Service T Refund N1.48bn

Mohammed Shosanya

The Public Accounts Committee of the Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Wednesday, directed the Federal Fire Service to refund the sum of N1.48bn within a week to the Federation Account, being the intervention funds it received for the COVID-19 health epidemic but which it cannot account for.

The Bamidele Salam- led committee issued the directive on Wednesday following the failure of the service to appear at the investigative hearing for the third time.

Deputy Chairman of the committee, Jeremiah Umar,moved a motion for the refund of the amount noting that “So many other agencies have appeared before this committee, and the investigation is ongoing. I don’t see any reason why (sic) the fire service will ignore a committee like this.”

Umar added that since the service could not appear before the lawmaker to clear the controversies surrounding its COVID-19 expenditure, the right thing to do is to refund the sum of N1.48bn it collected in 2020.

The committee issued fresh invitations to some other defaulting Ministries Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government to appear and explain various queries standing against them from the office of the Auditor General of the Federation on the billions of naira allocated as COVID-19 a intervention funds.

Those invited are;the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security -N50. 5 bn, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation- N33 bn, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, through the National Centre for Women Development-N625 million, National Centre for Disease Control-N25 bn, and the Federal Ministry of Health- N10bn.

Salam lamented that the Federal Fire Service had snubbed the Committee’s summons thrice while the other affected MDAs did the same twice each, saying that the later group had been given one week to appear, or face sanctions.

He said, “A public officer who fails to respond to the Auditor-General’s query satisfactorily within 21 days for failure to collect government revenue due shall be surcharged and be transferred to another schedule. Where an officer fails to give a satisfactory reply to an audit query within seven days for his failure to account for government revenue, such officer shall be surcharged for the full amount involved and such officers handed over to either the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.

“This Committee has a lot of assignments before it. The COVID-19 probe is just one; we have to move to other assignments,” he added.

CBN Limits Banks’ Foreign Currency Position

Mohammed Shosanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has ordered banks to limit the Net Open Position, NOP of their foreign currency assets and liabilities to 20 percent of shareholders funds.

The order was contained in a January 31, 2014 CBN Circular referenced: TED/FEM/PUB/ FPC/001/ 001,which was signed by the Director of Trade and Exchange, Dr. Hassan Mahmud, as well as, Mrs. Rita Sike, for Director of Banking Supervision.

It was titled, “Harmonization of Reporting Requirements on Foreign Currency Exposures of Banks”.

According to the new CBN Prudential requirements, “Banks whose current NOP exceeds 20 percent short and 0 percent long of their shareholders’ funds unimpaired by losses are required to bring them to prudential limit (today) February 1, 2024.

“Banks are required to compute their daily and monthly NOP and Foreign currency trading position (FCTP) using the attached templates.

“Banks are also required to have adequate stock of high-quality liquid foreign assets, i.e. cash and government securities in each significant currency to cover their maturing foreign currency obligations. In addition, banks should have in place a foreign exchange contingency funding arrangement with other financial institutions.”

Other requirements include, ”Banks should borrow and lend in the same currency (natural hedging) to avoid currency mismatch associated with foreign currency risk.

“The basis of the interest rate for borrowing should be the same as that of lending i.e. there should be no mismatch in floating and fixed interest rates, to mitigate basis risk associated with foreign borrowing interest rate risk.

“With respect to Eurobonds, any clause of early redemption should be at the instance of the issuer and approval obtained from the CBN in this regard, even if the bond does not qualify as tier 2 capital.

“All banks are required to adopt adequate treasury and risk management systems to provide oversight of all foreign exchange exposures and ensure accurate reporting on a timely basis.

“Banks are expected to bring all their exposures within the set limits immediately and ensure that all returns submitted to the CBN provide a accurate reflection of their balance sheets.

“Please, note that non-compliance with the NOP limit will result in immediate sanction and/or the suspension from participation in the foreign exchange market.”