The parliamentary debates on the N8.08 trillion 2019 budget proposal have already begun, even as the Senate Appropriation Committee was recently given two weeks ultimatum for the submission of its final report to the National Assembly.
In the wake of this development, the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, yesterday, reportedly uncovered N42 billion fund allegedly allocated to a private company in the 2019 budget of the ministry.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, appeared before the Senate Committee to defend the Ministry’s 2019 budget. In the course of his presentation, the Senate Committee’s Chairman, Senator Sabo Mohammed (APC Jigawa North West), called the attention of the Minister to the sum of N42 billion allocated to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company. According to him, the company is fictitious.
Following the Minister’s presentation, Senator Sabo once again referred to item 2 on page 7 of the proposed budget, which contained N42.091 billion allocation to the Nigeria Special Economic Zone; a company that reportedly does not exist. This resulted in the lawmakers’ subsequent rejection of the proposed N15.633 billion 2019 budget presented by the Ministry.
The minister’s attempted Boycott
The Minister of Trade and Investment attempted to justify the inclusion of the N42 billion alleged fraud, stating that the company was established through a Presidential initiative and was given approval during a Cabinet meeting in May 2018.
“One of the areas that this government has focused on is infrastructure. The second area is industrialisation and the two have something in common.”
“If the government tries to do it alone, it would be extremely tasking. So the President directed that we should bring other partners that can combine with whatever monies we have to build world class infrastructure which led to the establishment of the company in partnership with other investors.”
Again, the minister was asked to expatiate on the ownership of the supposed fake company. He responded that the company is jointly owned by both the Federal Government of Nigeria and other shareholders which he refused to disclose.
Senate Committee on Trade and Investment said the Minister lied
However, the Senate Committee Chairman objected to the claim made by the embattled Minister. He reportedly presented a document obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) which contained information about the company’s ownership.
According to the CAC document presented by the Chairman, the actual company’s name is Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited as against Nigeria Special Economic Zone Company as listed in the proposed budget presented.
More about “Nigeria Sez Investment Company Limited”
The CAC document, as read by Senator Sabo, also shed more light on the ownership of the said company:
“Ownership of the company, as clearly stated in the document obtained from CAC on the 26th of last month, designated as Directors Dr. Bakari Wadinga, Mr. Olufemi Edun and Ms Oluwadara Owoyemi.
“The document clearly states that the company is a private company and that liability of the members are limited by share which is also shown, gives Federal Government 25% and 75% to the private individuals.”
This is a financial ambush, the Senate Committee declared
The Minister to persuade/convince the Committee’s Chairman and its members that the initiative was driven by the Government, but all to no avail. The Committee stood its ground by describing the process as a misnomer and financial ambush on the nation’s commonwealth.
The Committee, thereby, gave directives to the Minister to forward all the details on how the company got into the 2019 appropriation list. He is also to present information about the company’s supposed management staff, list of staff strength, and account statement.
More on the budget proposal by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment
According to the breakdown of Nigeria’s 2019 budget as obtained by Niarametrics, the N42 billion is under the Special Economic Zone Projects.
Protecting your money from fraudsters
The ability to carry out transactions from the comfort of your homes, comes with the responsibility of safeguarding your money.
The advent of the cashless policy in Nigeria came as both a gift and a curse. On the plus side, one does not need to lug bags of cash around, especially for interstate transactions—just get depositors to transfer funds to your account, and you in turn, transfer to your business partners.
The policy has also made banks more innovative by creating various payment platforms that don’t need physical cash. Each bank has a robust mobile banking app where customers can transfer funds, subscribe for cable TV, book flights, buy airtime, etc., without entering a banking hall. For those without smart phones, the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) option is there. Even ATM cards have been upgraded to do more than pay cash. What a time to be alive!
However, with these strides in innovation, come the downsides—robbers have adapted with the times by moving from the highway and taking their “trade” online. The various options open to customers for processing transactions can also be manipulated by thieves to defraud account holders of their hard-earned funds.
Hopefully, after reading this article, readers would be better armed to protect their funds from these “online robbers.”
1. Do not divulge sensitive account details to unknown callers
As surprising as it seems, many people still fall prey to this trick, despite several warnings. There have been many instances of people admitting that they received calls from unknown callers, who claim to be staff of various banks. They are told that their accounts require some form of upgrade\corrections, and to do this, information like ATM card PINs and PANs, and details of messages sent to the account owners’ phones are needed. The “bank staff” then creates mobile banking apps tied to the bank accounts of the unsuspecting owners, and from there, all funds are transferred to several unknown recipients.
2. Protect card details
As already stated, ATM cards are not just used for cash withdrawals now—they can also be used for funds transfers, bills payments, online transactions, etc. this means that one does not necessarily need the physical presence of their card to process some transactions. With knowledge of the card Primary Account Number (PAN), which are the 16 digits displayed on the card’s surface, the Personal Identification Number (PIN), and Card Verification Value (CVV) number, displayed on the back of the card, funds can be moved from one’s account.
It is therefore important to protect these details, especially when using the card in public places like ATM lobbies, and POS machines. You should be equally careful not to call out such details, if absolutely necessary, within earshot of people.
3. Always keep your phone safe
Imagine mourning the loss of your phone, then having the added heartache of losing the funds in your bank account(s).
The value of a phone goes beyond its price, these days. It contains private valued information of its owner, among which are bank account details; it also contains the SIM through which transaction alerts are received. The SIM makes it possible to process USSD transactions.
There have been instances where phones were given to repairmen, only for the owners to realise later that funds had been transferred from their accounts via USSD to unknown beneficiaries. Even relatives have been known to secretly steal funds from accounts, just by handling the owner’s phones.
Always keep your phone locked, and know where it is at all times.
4. Pay attention to transaction alerts
It is very easy to assume that all is well with one’s account, and not bother with checking transaction alerts. After all, it is what you withdrew that must have left the account, right? Wrong!
As explained above, funds could have left your account without your authorisation. So pay attention to your transaction alerts, especially the balances, and quickly investigate any transaction that was not initiated with your permission—the earlier the better, for quick resolution with your bank.
Also note that the absence of alerts despite transactions could also be a red flag, as the SIM could have been swapped, giving fraudsters a free hand to run your account.
5. Know the USSD code for instant account deactivation
Imagine the horror of receiving alerts showing that your account is being continuously debited as you helplessly watch it happen, especially during over weekend when banks are closed.
This doesn’t need to happen. Right from the first debit, you should be able to take action and deactivate your account to prevent further debits. This is why it is important to know the emergency code of each bank where your funds are kept. For example, with Zenith Bank, any phone can be used to enter USSD code *966*911#, provide your account number, and the number used to receive alerts, and the account gets instantly deactivated. After this, you can take your time to investigate the stolen money, instead of frantically running around to stop further debits.
It is also important to know the various ways to reach your bank during emergencies—get their customer care lines from their websites, and if they have chatbots, engage them; also know their email addresses. Getting your account officer’s number too is useful.
Apparently, with the ability to carry out transactions from the comfort of your homes, comes the responsibility of safeguarding your money (to an extent). These tips should make it easier to do so.
However, in a case where the money has already been stolen, contact your bank as soon as possible for investigation and possible recovery.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 30th of October 2020, 170 new confirmed cases and 3 deaths were recorded in Nigeria
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 62,691 confirmed cases.
On the 30th of October 2020, 170 new confirmed cases and 3 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 3,008 samples across the country.
To date, 62,521 cases have been confirmed, 58,249 cases have been discharged and 1,141 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 620,758 tests have been carried out as of October 30th, 2020 compared to 617,750 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 30th October 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 62,691
- Total Number Discharged – 58,430
- Total Deaths – 1,144
- Total Tests Carried out – 620,758
According to the NCDC, the 170 new cases were reported from 11 states- Lagos (106), FCT (25), Oyo (14), Edo (7), Kaduna (7), Ogun (4), Bauchi (2), Benue (2), Kano (1), Osun (1), Rivers (1)
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 21,212, followed by Abuja (6,053), Plateau (3,630), Oyo (3,447), Rivers (2,810), Edo (2,664), Kaduna (2,648), Ogun (2,031), Delta (1,814), Kano (1,747), Ondo (1,666), Enugu (1,314), Kwara (1,069), Ebonyi (1,049), Katsina (952), Osun (926), Abia (898), Gombe (883). Borno (745), and Bauchi (713).
Imo State has recorded 616 cases, Benue (493), Nasarawa (482), Bayelsa (412), Ekiti (332), Jigawa (325), Akwa Ibom (295), Anambra (277), Niger (274), Adamawa (257), Sokoto (165), Taraba (146), Kebbi (93), Cross River (87), Yobe (82), Zamfara (79), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.
Cristiano Ronaldo now tests negative for Coronavirus
Cristiano Ronaldo tested negative for coronavirus after nearly three weeks that he tested positive.
Juventus F.C. star, Cristiano Ronaldo, has tested negative for coronavirus, nearly three weeks after he tested positive.
This was disclosed by his club via its website on Friday.
It stated, “Ronaldo carried out a check with a diagnostic test (swab) for COVID-19. The exam provided a negative result.
“The player has, therefore, recovered after 19 days and is no longer subjected to home isolation.”
What you should know
Ronaldo had tested positive for COVID-19 on October 13, while playing with Portugal. He had been in self-isolation since returning to Italy.
The 35-year-old missed four games including Wednesday’s 2-0 Champions League defeat to Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, and Juventus’s 2-0 win at Dynamo Kiev in their Group G opener.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s return will be a boost for Andrea Pirlo’s faltering side who are fifth in Serie A, four points behind leaders AC Milan.