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There must be increased product quality for Africa trade – Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo SAN launches the Clean Nigeria Campaign Project Flush IT Initiative organized by OPS WASH.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN
  • VP urges Nigerian businesses to step-up product quality for Africa trade

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN says that in an increasingly integrated African continent, all hands must be on deck to ensure that limitations to product quality and technical barriers to trade are removed, while improving the market acceptability of made-in-Nigeria products.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this today at the opening session of the virtual “Open-Day with MSMEs” organised by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

According to him, “this is particularly important as we seek to expand our exports to the rest of Africa in the African Continental Free Trade Area, and indeed to the rest of the world.”

Continuing, the VP explained that improving product quality “is integral to market entry and market share”, adding that “our failure to adhere to international standards for product quality will continue to limit the market acceptability of our products and poses the risk of rejection and non-acceptance of ‘Made in Nigeria’ products at home and abroad.”

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He said that “we are fully aware that Nigeria’s aspirations for a highly competitive economy will remain unfulfilled if we do not create a business environment that is conducive for your businesses to thrive. Among other factors, a friendly business environment engenders productivity while ensuring that products and services meet the highest standards.”

On initiatives designed to improve quality of export products, the VP expressed hope that the SON event would “further educate MSMEs on recent efforts to improve product standardization, including the Nigeria National Standardization Strategy (NNSS) document, and the National Quality Policy document.”

He said, “the National Standardization Strategy released by SON in 2020 takes cognizance of Nigeria’s priorities and serves as a reference document in integrating our standardization needs. Furthermore, the National Quality Policy, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) early this year, will help reduce the infrastructural burden of meeting local and global quality requirements.”

Underlining the significance of government’s support for MSMEs, Prof. Osinbajo said MSMEs account for approximately 48 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and continue to play a vital role in providing jobs and keeping the economy running despite economic challenges heightened by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on other MSMEs initiatives by the Buhari administration, the Vice President said “there are a plethora of programmes which this Administration has specially curated to support MSMEs, such as the cross-cutting, systemic business climate reforms of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the National MSME Clinics, with provision of Shared Facilities Centres, some of which have been established in Benue, Lagos, and Anambra States, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) to mention a few.”

Similarly, Prof. Osinbajo highlighted how the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) “helped the economy to exit recession speedily by increasing the chances of survival of our MSMEs in the thick of the pandemic.”

Prof. Osinbajo further pointed out Government’s support to MSMEs in the digital and creative sectors through a collaboration with the African Development Bank on a $600m programme on Investing in Digital and Creative Enterprises.

The VP, however, noted that “these interventions will not be sustainable if a deliberate culture of ensuring compliance with global standards and regulations to attain quality benchmarks is not inculcated.”

“The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) through its mandate as the National Standards body has the capacity to provide Nigerian MSMEs with the required support for the production of quality goods to make you competitive across Africa and globally,” he added.

The Vice President commended the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; and the Minister of State, Ambassador Maryam Katagum; as well as the Director-General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, for their respective efforts towards facilitating an enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive.

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Alleged N1.4bn Fraud: Court Admits More Evidence Against Nadabo Energy Boss

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Abubakar Ali Peters

The ongoing trial of Abubakar Ali Peters and his company, Nadabo Energy Limited, for alleged N1.4billion fraud, before Justice C.A. Balogun of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos continued on Wednesday with the court admitting in evidence more documents tendered by the prosecution to prove the case against the defendants.

Abubakar and his company are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC,  on a 27-count charge for allegedly using forged documents to obtain N1,465,961,978.24 from the Federal Government as oil subsidy, after allegedly inflating the quantity of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, purportedly imported and supplied by the company.

One of the counts reads: “Nadabo Energy Limited and Abubakar Ali Peters, on or about the 3rd day of April, 2012 at Lagos, within the Lagos Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, fraudulently obtained the sum of N978,401,732.09 (Nine Hundred and Seventy-eight Million Four Hundred and One Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty-two Naira Nine Kobo) from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely claiming that the sum represented subsidy accrued to Nadabo Energy Limited under the Petroleum Support Fund for the importation of 19,488,992 litres of Premium Motor Spirit  (PMS), which Nadabo Energy Limited purported to have purchased from Ashland SA Geneva Switzerland, and transported the 19,488,992 litres of PMS through MT American Express  (Mother Vessel) and MT. St. Vanessa  (Daughter Vessel) to Nigeria, whereas Nadabo Energy Limited only imported 6,505,140.04 litres of PMS to Nigeria through MT Evridiki (Mother Vessel) and MT St Vanessa  (Daughter Vessel).”

Another count reads: “Nadabo Energy Limited and Abubakar Ali Peters, on or about the 25th day of October 2011 at Lagos, within the Lagos Judicial Division, with intent to defraud, and in order to facilitate your obtaining money by false pretence from the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Petroleum Support Fund  (PSF), forged a document titled: Certificate of Marine Insurance no. 0047851 and purported the Marine Insurance certificate to have been issued by Staco Insurance Plc to Nadabo Energy Limited.”

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were arraigned on December 10, 2012.

At today’s proceedings, Justice Balogun delivered a ruling on the admissibility of some documents, which the prosecuting counsel, S.K. Atteh, had, at the sitting of November 16, 2021, sought to tender through the fifth prosecution witness, the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa.

The documents included correspondences between the EFCC and Enterprise Bank (then Spring Bank) as well as Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank).

However, the defence counsel, E.O. Isiramen, had objected to the admissibility of the responses from the two banks to the EFCC.

Delivering ruling, Justice Balogun dismissed the objection raised by the defence and admitted the documents as exhibits against the defendants.

Bawa, thereafter, continued with his examination-in-chief.

Led in evidence by Atteh, he told the court that after receiving the responses from Enterprise Bank, the EFCC sent a letter of investigation activities to the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.

He said: “We furnished them with our findings for them to compute the subsidy that ought to have been paid to the defendant.

“They acknowledged receipt of the EFCC letter and later responded in writing.”

Bawa identified the EFCC letter to the PPPRA and the certified true copies of the responses from the PPPRA, with its attached documents.

When Atteh, thereafter, sought to tender the documents, there was no objection from the defence.

The documents were, therefore, admitted in evidence as exhibits against the defendants.

According to Bawa, the EFCC afterwards wrote to the defendants, adding that “The second defendant, Abubakar Ali Peters came to our office on 5, Fomella Street, Wuse 2, Abuja; and after our interview with him regarding the involvement of the first defendant (Nadabo Energy Limited), he volunteered to make a statement.

“He was duly cautioned in English Language.”

Thereafter, he identified the statements made to the EFCC by the defendant on January 28, 2012, and February 8, 2012.

He further added that the defendant later used a courier to send to the EFCC a booklet, which he had earlier submitted to the PPPRA for the purpose of receiving subsidy funds.

Thereafter, when Atteh sought to tender the statements and the booklet, there was no objection from the defence.

Justice Balogun admitted the statements as Exhibit V, V1 and V2, while the booklet was admitted as Exhibit W.

Bawa further told the Court that upon completion of investigations, he prepared a nine-page document as “the synopsis of our own understanding of what transpired in this particular transaction”.

When Atteh sought to tender the said document, there was no objection from the defence.

It was, therefore, admitted in evidence as Exhibit X.

Giving a summary of the EFCC investigation, Bawa said: “The defendant imported into the country 6,505,140 litres of PMS equivalent to 4,850.962MT.

“Looking at the landing costs, he ought to have been paid N487,560,246.15, but he was paid and collected N1,465,961,978.24 for claiming to have imported 19,488,992 litres of PMS, which shows that he allegedly defrauded the Federal Government of Nigeria to the tune of N978,401,732.09.”

The case has been adjourned till December 20 and 21, 2021 for continuation of hearing

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Ex-Air Chief, Dikko, Tells Court How He Acquired Properties Worth N4.7bn

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Mohammed Dikko Umar

The trial of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, resumed on Wednesday before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, with the continuation of the cross-examination of the defendant by the prosecuting counsel, Sylvanus Tahir.

The defendant, Dikko, told the court that he bought properties worth N4.7 billion through estacodes earned through training and flying most of the African Presidents.

“For 36 years of my service my lord, I served in the Presidential Fleet for seventeen years. Most of the flights I took were external trips outside Nigeria, and I went for many training trips outside the country,” he said.

Dikko further disclosed that he flew all African Presidents during his years in service, except the Presidents of Cote D’Ivoire and Togo.

“I have earned a lot of estacodes, lots of foreign trips and two farms in Abuja with about 17 hectares of land and the other two in Kaduna are four hectares and 200 hectares respectively. I have been a farmer throughout my life”, he said.

Asked why he did not provide the court with documents to back up his claims about the estacodes, he said nobody asked him to do so. He, however, added that he mentioned it in his extrajudicial statement to the EFCC.

Dikko told the court that the Nigerian Air Force “has its own way of operation”, adding that the service had no e-payment system during his time.

However, documented evidence before the court shows that while Dikko was in office, he received his salary through the bank. Also, pages 22 to 472 in the exhibit, shows e-transactions for upkeep to some under-listed officers. And those transactions happened in August 2012, when the defendant was the Chief of Air Staff.

Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter till March 1, 2022, for the adoption of final addresses.

Dikko was first arraigned on January 25, 2017 on a 7-count charge of money laundering and procurement fraud to the tune of N9.7 billion. Six of the counts were dismissed following a no-case submission.

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Folabi Kuti: Commemorating an ascendance to the inner bar, By Lekan Alabi

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“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upwards in the night.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

The above evergreen admonition of the 18th Century American poet and educator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is very apt in describing the jurisprudential journey of the man of the moment, and his legal stardom. I call him ‘Juris’ (jurisprudence because of the depth of his legal knowledge and immense ability to cite the latest decisions of legal issues of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the apex courts of other jurisdictions).
This legal giant among giants was born into the family of Aruna Olusoga Kuti, a school principal in his lifetime, and Madam Olaide Latifat Kuti, a matron and transnational textile dealer in her time. He is from Sagamu, in the old Remo Division of the present day Ogun State. By my interpretation of the economic ladder, he was born into a middle class family. Yes, there was a middle class in Nigeria before the siege of neoliberal economic policies by the ruling elite in the last four decades, which consequently widened the gulf between the extremely rich but few and the extremely poor but many. The economic reality of the Nigerian people has thrown up serious resistance from the downtrodden and non-state actors in the recent time. Indeed there was a country!
“Bi a ti se wa ye pe a o ri be e naa la a ri” (“man is the master of his destiny”, according to an Ifa oracular statement). The man being celebrated today designed his path to achieve today’s result very early in life; and as he once said: “Dad did not have money – just a sack of books/knowledge with which he nonetheless made food and other provisions available”. As far as I know, Folabi cherishes intellectualism in any area of knowledge. He reads widely, speaks eloquently and writes profoundly.
Truly, Folabi really burnt candles at both ends to attain his professional status today. The prediction of an eminent jurist and outstanding advocate has become a reality within a period of two decades. My lord, Honourable Justice Bendict Bakwaph Kanyip, president, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, curiously and incessantly enquired from the man of the moment that: “Folabi what is delaying your elevation to the Inner Bar.” Equally, the much respected Idowu Sofola Esq. SAN (may Allah be pleased with his soul) was a man who saw tomorrow when he authoritatively declared that Folabi would make a great advocate.
As far back as the year 2015, I was of the conviction that in no distant future, Folabi would be conferred with the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Some of the following instances, among others, made my belief of the current event. In 2015, I was relaxing at the Officers’ Mess, Ikeja Cantonment after a court marshal proceeding with my ideological soul mate, Mike Kebonko Esq., when Folabi called and informed me that they (himself and other legal minds) just finished reviewing the judgments of the following cases I handled before Honourable Justcie Bendict Bakwaph Kanyip: Suit No. NICN/LA/624/2015: Irikefe Odiriverere Patience V. Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and Suit No. NICN/LA/625/2015: Adenekan Titilola Adejoke V. Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited. I did not attach any importance to the cases, except the moral victory of the oppressed employees of Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited. However, he drew my attention to a new ground breaking in the National Industrial Court on March 28, 2017, when my lord courageously declared: It is hereby declared that the failure of the defendant to remit the mandatory contribution to the claimant’s Pension Manager (LEADWAY PENSURE PFA LIMITED) from the year 2009 to the year 2013 is a violation of the provisions of sections 11(7), 89 & 90 of the Pension Reform Act 2004.
And the Honourable Court ordered that:

The defendant shall remit all the outstanding mandatory contributions belonging to the claimant to Leadway Pensure PFA Limited.

Folabi pointed out the uniqueness of the judgment of the honourable Court in the two cases regarding the reliefs relating to pension granted. In all honesty, I did not see it that way before he drew my attention to it.
Also in 2015, at a Chinese Restaurant in Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos, I was having a rendezvous with Toyin Owodunni Esq., Tayo Anuodo Esq., Folabi Kuti Esq., while hosting our colleague, Gboyaga Okunniga Esq., who came in from the United Kingdom. Tayo set the ball rolling by saying that it was his wish that our OAU Alumni Class 2000 should produce Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Responding to the wish of Tayo, Folabi innocently said that he received court judgments in the United Kingdom immediately they were delivered. Not only did he read the judgments, he equally reviewed them.
There and then, I concluded that Folabi had really covered a lot in his jurisprudential journey to greatness.

Now that he has been conferred with the honour of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in recognition of his distinction at the Bar, despite the thorny path in his professional career, may I ask from our learned senior, what are our expectations from the Juris?
It gladdens my heart that he has a legal relationship with the remnants of the hitherto radical Nigerian Labour Congress. It is my humble view that he will expound the law to arrive at a welfarist state prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) for the Nigerian people.
Now that the current rulers have unapologetically and unpretentiously hugged the directive of Bretton Woods Institutions to remove the so called subsidy from unavoidable petroleum products, are we expecting the ‘Juris’ to be on the streets with the workers, like the late socialist thinkers and advocates, Alao Aka-Bashorun Esq. and Bamidele Aturu Esq. who were historically relevant in the workers’ struggles, in and out of the courts? Are we expecting a gentleman approach and dignity of the Inner Bar in his intervention in serious economic issues pertaining to workers, who have been consumed, according to Adebayo William’s description that, “mainstreaming is nothing but a buccaneer’s ethos, a shameless appropriation of the national patrimony by a privileged few.”
Folabi Kuti’s elevation comes at a time when the Nigerian state is fragile, delicate and insecure. Are we expecting a radical or liberal approach from the Inner Bar to make a genuine legal input to solve teething social political problems that refuse to vanish from our daily life?
As he enters the Inner Bar, is he going to align himself with the frontal position of the nouveau riche that the Inner Bar is full for now and no elevation should be carried out by the Privileges Committee or is he for the school of thought that says that the sky is wide enough for birds to flock?
As a legal hybrid who combines international exposure with local practice, what is going to be his position on our privileged seniors who challenge electoral malpractices in State A and make a 360 degree u-turn by defending the same electoral malpractices in State B? Do we call this conduct legal dynamism or economic opportunism? Is the law still certain in relation to embarrassing and conflicting judgments in our appellate courts, particularly on electoral matters?
As Folabi gets elevated to the Inner Bar, I am of unshakable belief that he has the knowledge, courage, character, principle, intellect and resources to add value to the Inner Bar for the betterment of our legal education. The quality of the Bench, most of the time, is a reflection of the quality of the Bar; it is against this background that he is urged to assist courts, irrespective of the side he represents in attaining the quality of judges, as stated by Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 2014 Edition thus:
“A Judge is a pillar in the entire justice system and the public expects highest and irreproachable conduct from anyone performing a judicial function. Judges must endeavour for the utmost standard of integrity in both their professional and personal lives. They should be knowledgeable about the law, willing to undertake in-depth legal research and able to write decisions that are clear logical and cogent. Their judgment should be sound and they should be able to make informed decisions that will stand up to close scrutiny. Judges should be fair and open minded devoid of any kind of political fervour”
My Learned Senior, it is on this note that I thank Almighty God for His blessing on your life. The Almighty God and Mama Kuti have proved you wrong when you held that, “I wear my humble background as a badge of honour. Father, a school Principal and breadwinner, died in 1993. I was just about starting Year 1, Law in OAU. As he was being lowered, I remembered uttering words to the effect that ‘my Lord is gone forever. The world has ended’. Now his world has just begun; this is a new dawn, learned senior.

Lekan Alabi is a legal practitioner and consultant.

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