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Reps to engage EFCC against Telcos over alleged N200 billion NITDA debt  

Telecommunication providers in the country are set to be investigated by EFCC and DSS over allegedly owing NITDA N200 billion.  

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Internet World Stats, Nigerian Communications Commission remittance, Network operators in Nigeria, Telecoms companies in Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Africa, Globacom data, 9mobile court case, Top 10 states in Nigeria with the highest Internet subscribers , Telecommunications: The bright spot in a fragile economy, Telcos add 5.64 million voice and data subscribers in Q3 2019 - NBS , Alleged N200bn Debt: EFCC, DSS to probe telcos, Network glitch, as poor internet speed continues to impede banking services, Telecoms record 725% increase in foreign capital investment, as GDP contribution hits N6 trillion, Coronavirus: Instant messaging platforms, Telcos raking in funds from the work-from-home policy, Telecoms: Bright spot amidst the gloom, Nigerians lambast MTN, Airtel for offering free SMS, ignoring request for free data, airtime

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) may engage the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe telecommunication companies. The committee may take the step if it found the telcos failed to remit about N200 billion to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on ICT, Lado Abdullahi, explained that the allegation against the telcos was that they failed to remit the required percentage of their annual turnover to NITDA to install infrastructure as stipulated in the NITDA Act.

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Abdullahi disclosed that the house would ensure that the Chief Executive Officers of the nation’s telecom providers account for the remittance if found guilty. He alleged that since the Act became effective in 2007, the telecom providers have failed to remit the said amount.

“Our committee has been given a month deadline following a motion sponsored by a member from Ukwa East/West federal constituency in December 2019. The committee has not started working because the motion was moved during our last session before we went on recess and we have not resumed. 

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“So when we resume, we will be able to investigate the matter. Hopefully, by 20th of this month, the committee will take off,” Abdullahi said.

[READ MORE: NCC warns telcos against cyber fraudsters)

Why this matters: As stated by a source at NITDA, the alleged debt that the telecom providers owe the agency has caused Nigeria to lose a verifiable source of revenue generation thus hampering development. This is because the revenue gotten from the telcos is what NITDA is supposed to use to install infrastructure.

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Abdullahi said, “We want to know when last they released their turnover to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from 2007 till date. We also need to know whether the FIRS too gets information from them. 

“FIRS will also provide us with the turnover of each service provider from 2007 to date. The Attorney-General, Accountant-General, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will furnish us with useful information to do our job. 

“The process ought to have been that once the FIRS collects the money, it makes it known to the Accountant-General, who will release the same to the Ministry of Finance and then to NITDA. We are involving the Attorney-General, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Department of State Services (DSS) and EFCC. 

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“Any CEO coming to make presentation has to be on oath. They will be summoned before the national assembly to resolve the issue. The Attorney-General too will do the investigation and prosecute them accordingly.”

Patricia

Chidinma holds a degree in Mass communication from Caleb University Lagos and a Masters in view in Public Relations. She strongly believes in self development which has made her volunteer with an NGO on girl child development. She loves writing, reading and travelling. You may contact her via - [email protected]

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: WHO reverses itself based on new discovery about the virus

This admission is coming on the heels of criticisms from experts.

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WHO warns countries against rushing to lift coronavirus restrictions

The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided an update on the modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from infected people, based on new scientific evidence.

The WHO on Thursday, formally recognized that the coronavirus can be transmitted indoors by droplets in the air, marking a reversal for the United Nation’s agency.

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In a scientific brief, the WHO said that people who spend time in crowded places with poor ventilation are at risk of being infected by the coronavirus as the droplets circulate throughout the air in indoor gatherings.

This admission is coming on the heels of criticisms from experts who have been putting pressure on the UN health agency to update its description of the spread of the virus to include the possibility of airborne infections.

The WHO now admits that transmissions through aerosols, or tiny air droplets, could have been behind outbreaks of COVID-19 that have been reported in some closed environments such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking or singing.

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Apart from refraining from having close contact with infected people and frequent hand-washing, the WHO pointed out that people should avoid crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.

However, the WHO still focuses more on the spread of the virus by larger droplets that are discharged through coughing, sneezing and singing or from contact with a contaminated surface.

The WHO in its statement said, “Respiratory droplet transmission can occur when a person is in close contact (within 1 metre) with an infected person who has respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing or sneezing) or who is talking or singing; in these circumstances, respiratory droplets that include virus can reach the mouth, nose or eyes of a susceptible person and can result in infection.”

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It also revealed that based on what is currently known, the transmission of COVID-19 primarily occurs from people when they have symptoms and can also occur just before they develop symptoms when they are in close proximity to others for prolonged periods of time. While someone who never develops symptoms can also pass the virus to others, it is still not clear to what extent this occurs and more research is needed in this area.

The UN health agency had previously advised that the spread of the virus through the air is only common when people, mostly health care workers, were involved in medical procedures that produced aerosols, though a lot of evidence has surfaced suggesting that the virus can stay in the air for hours and infect a person when inhaled.

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Energy

DisCos seek CBN funding for massive roll-out of meters to consumers

This, it was said will help DisCos meet the 2024 deadline which they had committed to.

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NERC, electricity tariffs, hotels, bars,

A Central Bank-funded massive roll-out of meters would expedite the efforts to achieve the full take-off of the proposed Service Reflective Tariff (SRT), Electricity distribution companies (Discos) have suggested.

According to Mr Sunday Oduntan, the Executive Director in charge of research and advocacy at the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), such funding would help ensure that all electricity customers are adequately metered under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulation.

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Oduntan, who said this in a statement to NAN on Friday, also disclosed that it would assist the distribution companies to meet the 2024 deadline which they had committed to, for metering all electricity consumers.

He recalled that Mr Ernest Mupwaya, Managing Director of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), had spoken on behalf of the DisCos at the House of Representatives Public Hearing on the power sector on Thursday.

According to Mupwaya, the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) provision in Nigeria’s electricity tariff was insufficient to cover the cost of metering customers.

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“Over the years, there has been insufficient investment in customer metering, due to inadequate Multi Tariff Order (MYTO) CAPEX and uneconomic tariff. The approved CAPEX for DisCos has never been adequate for comprehensive metering,” he said.

He added that the Discos were requesting CBN to provide funds for emergency mass metering projects since they no longer had a provision in their CAPEX for metering. If approved, the project would be completed within a period of 18 months.

Mupwaya added that the funding was even more necessary since no provisions had been made for metering in the event that the MAP regulation failed.

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The first quarter of 2020 had seen an average monthly growth of 75,000 new customers every month, moving the number of metered customers in Nigeria above 10 million, and decreasing the metering penetration from 45.5 percent in January 2017 down to 40.3 percent in March 2020.

“Plugging the metering gap that is in excess of six million meters has been slow because even the recently introduced MAP regulations incorporate inappropriate meter pricing and so, it is not working as NERC/DisCos expected.

“The twin effects of the sudden increase in import duties of 35 percent on meter and NERC’s wrong pricing frustrated the good intentions of MAP” he noted.

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He appealed to the government to grant full waivers on the 35 percent increased duty surcharged on meters, until mass metering was achieved, and to fix an appropriate and commercial price on meters.

He added that the cap on estimated billing had discouraged consumers from obtaining meters under the MAP regulation, and urged the NERC to allow Discos go ahead with estimated billing, introducing the capping only after the massive meter roll-out after 18 months.

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Corporate deals

Deals: Dangote Sugar acquires Savannah Sugar Company Limited 

Dangote Sugar Refinery will henceforth assume all legal proceedings.

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Dangote Sugar Refinery to merge with Savannah Sugar, Dangote was $4.3 billion richer in 2019, Dangote Sugar announces closed period, ban insider shareholders from trading , Dangote Cement: Weak revenue performance, elevated OPEX weigh on earnings

Dangote Sugar Refinery has been authorised to receive all the assets, liabilities and business undertakings, and property rights of Savannah Sugar Company Limited (SSCL) 

This was one of the resolutions passed at the court-ordered meeting of the members of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held on Thursday at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos 

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According to the notice of the proceedings sent to the Nigeria Stock Exchange, and seen by Nairametrics, Dangote Sugar Refinery is hereby authorised to receive all the assets ((including all tax attributes, unutilized capital allowances, tax losses, withholding tax credits and any other tax refunds available subject to the approval of the FIRS), liabilities and business undertakings, including real property and intellectual property rights of Savannah Sugar Company Limited (“SSCL”) transferred by SSCL to the Company (pursuant to the Scheme of Arrangement between SSCL and its shareholders) upon the terms and subject to the conditions set out in the Scheme of Arrangement without any further act or deed”.  

Dangote Sugar Refinery will henceforth assume all legal proceedings, claims and litigation matters pending or contemplated by or against Savannah Sugar. 

In view of this acquisition, the court also ordered Dangote Sugar Refinery to issue and allot to the shareholders of Savannah sugar, 146,878,241 ordinary shares of N0.50 each in the share capital, for the 162,756,968 ordinary shares held by the Scheme Shareholders in SSCL 

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The Scheme Document dated Friday, May 29, 2020, was also approved at the meeting, and Directors of DSR were authorised to consent to any modifications that the Securities and Exchange Commission may deem fit, and give effect to the scheme.  

Dangote Sugar Refinery had earlier sent a disclosure notice to the NSE, announcing its plans to acquire Savannah Sugar Company Limited, subject to the approval of both company shareholders.  

Dangote industries recently sold its flour subsidiary, and this acquisition is part of an expansion strategy for Dangote Sugar Refinery, and the next stage of its backward integration plan to revolutionize the sugar sub-sector of Nigeria’s economy. 

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