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Wema Bank’s MD, others, face contempt charges as rift with Heritage Bank intensifies 

Wema Bank’s Managing Director and five other top officials of the bank are at risk of being slammed with committal orders for court disobedience.

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Wema Bank's 2019 half year financial results, Wema Bank Plc announces notice of board meeting, closed period

Wema Bank’s Managing Director, Ademola Adebise, and five other top officials of the bank are at risk of being slammed with committal orders for court disobedience, except they did obey Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke’s order which required them to appear in court today.

The Federal High Court Judge gave the order last week, demanding the defendants’ presence at court on Monday. This is in relation to a contempt suit that was earlier filed against them by the management of Heritage Bank Plc.

Heritage Bank Plc had also filed similar garnishee suits against the Ondo State Government and the state’s Attorney-General, as well as a separate suit against Idanre Local Government Universal Basic Education Authority in Ondo State.

Here’s what had happenedNairametrics understands that Heritage Bank some time ago won a court case against the Ondo State Government and the state’s Attorney General. This was to the tune of N1 billion.  The state paid the sum of N600 million to the bank, remaining N400 million. 

In the same veinHeritage Bank also obtained a court win against Idanre Local Government Universal Education Authority to the tune of N405.4 million. 

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[READ: Wema Bank to float N20 billion bond]

At this pointWema Bank, with whom the Ondo State Government had an account, deposed an affidavit saying that the Ondo State Government had up to N745 million in its account. The court later required Wema Bank to pay the money to Heritage Bank, according to reporting by The Nation. 

Meanwhile, the affidavit, which was deposed by Wema Bankhad been attached to an order of nisi that Heritage Bank had obtained in an effort to ensure that both parties (I.e. the Ondo Government and Heritage Bank) comply with the court order.  

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Note that an order of nisi is a court order that comeinto force at a future dateparticularly when a condition is not met. In other words, an order of nisi works in such a way that if a condition in a ruling is unmet, the ruling becomes a decree absolute and binding. In the case of Wema Bank, there was a principle judgment sum of N134 million which was meant to become absolute if the bank failed to remit the money in its custody to Heritage Bank. 

[READ: Heritage Bank launches its own digital bank, Octopus]

By December 2019the order of nisi against Wema bank became absolute after the bank failed to remit the money. According to Heritage Bank, Wema Bank failed to remit the money despite repeated demands by its attorney.  

Wema Bank records 54.54% profit increase as at Q3 2019   

Wema Bank tried to explainsaying that it could not comply with the court injunction because there was a notice of appeal and motion of stay of execution which had been filed by the Ondo State Government at the court of appeal. 

[READ: $9.6 billion judgement: UK Court grants Nigeria stay of execution, requests $200 million payment]

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Apparently, this explanation fell on deaf ears because Heritage Bank made the court’s Registrar issue Form 48 to Heritage Bank. The form served the purpose of notifying Wema Bank of the consequence of its disobedience of court – which is that it will become liable to pay the sum of N134 million. 

Interestingly, this order was still not obeyed by Wema Bank, thereby resulting in a further issuance of Form 49, which demanded that Wema Bank’s top executives should appear in court and defend contempt charges brought against them or risk going to prison. In the meantime, counsel to Wema Bank had filed a petition seeking a stay of execution pending an appeal. 

On February 14th, the Justice ruled that Wema Bank’s MD, the company’s Chairman, Babatunde Kasali, and the Deputy Managing Director, Moruf Oseni must appear in court or risking jail terms. Others who were expected to appear before the Justice are Wole Akinleye, Folake Sanu, and JohnsoLebile who hold Executive Director and Company Secretary positions at the company.  

It is unclear at the point of filing this report whether these individuals did comply by appearing in court today or not.  

[READ: AMCON to recover over N5 trillion debt with judicial intervention]

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs. He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor. Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan. If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 22nd of September 2020, 176 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria.

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 57,613 confirmed cases.

On the 22nd of September 2020, 176 new confirmed cases were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 3,177 samples across the country.

To date, 57,613 cases have been confirmed, 48,836 cases have been discharged and 1,100 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 484,051  tests have been carried out as of September 22nd, 2020 compared to 480,874 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 22nd September 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 57,613
  • Total Number Discharged – 48,836
  • Total Deaths – 1,100
  • Total Tests Carried out – 484,051

According to the NCDC, the 176 new cases were reported from 14 states- Lagos (73), Plateau (50), FCT (17), Rivers (8), Ondo (6), Niger (5), Ogun (5), Edo (3), Kaduna (3), Oyo (2), Bauchi (1), Bayelsa (1), Delta (1), Nasarawa (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 19,055, followed by Abuja (5,583), Plateau (3,304), Oyo (3,233), Edo (2,615), Kaduna (2,359), Rivers (2,263), Delta (1,800), Ogun (1,772), Kano (1,734), Ondo (1,606), Enugu (1,285), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,025), Abia (881), Katsina (848), Gombe (839), Osun (817),  Borno (741), and Bauchi (692).

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Imo State has recorded 562 cases, Benue (473), Nasarawa (449), Bayelsa (395),  Jigawa (322), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (259), Adamawa (234), Anambra (232), Sokoto (161), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (85), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

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.

READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

 

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Economy & Politics

FG needs to focus on business environment reforms – Sanusi

While speaking at the Kadinvest 5.0 Summit in Kaduna, the former CBN Governor gave salient suggestions to revamping the economy.

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FG needs to focus on Business environment reforms- Sanusi

Former CBN Governor, HH Muhammadu Sanusi II has said the Nigerian government needs to focus on reforms that enable a better business environment and also called for economic diversification through maximizing technology as means to generate revenue away from crude oil.

Muhammadu Sanusi II disclosed this at the Kadinvest 5.0 Summit in Kaduna on Tuesday morning. Sanusi said the Nigerian government’s role in the economy should be small, both in absolute and relative terms. Sanusi cited Nigeria’s GDP per capita and tax revenue per capita, at $2,400 and $75 respectively, while development spending is just $36 compared to Kenya at $280 tax revenue per capita, and development spending of $280, despite having 90% of Nigeria’s GDP per capita at $2,151.

“Government needs to multiply its tax revenue, the government needs to spend on business environment reforms,” he said.

(READ MORE: Can Agriculture replace Oil in Nigeria?)

Solutions for Nigeria:

He said that the diversification made colonial Nigeria an economic success, based on the trading sector and the diversity of Nigeria’s export base, including palm oil, groundnuts, cocoa, tin, hides and cotton, and others. He added that the diversity of export meant Nigeria was less vulnerable to terms of trade shocks driven by one export in particular.

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“Nigeria has suffered boom and burst periods due to oil valuations. It affects us in direct and personal ways. The government needs to understand the importance of wrong and adverse economic decisions on the human being,” he said.

Sanusi cited inflation numbers, saying Nigeria ignored inflation numbers of 2%, instead of breaking down the CPI and seeing how it affects millions of people who spend on food from minimum wages and how a 2% inflation growth wipes out earnings.

(READ MORE: Has the President erred in stopping CBN from funding food imports?)

He compared Nigeria’s growth in the past 40 years with countries similar to countries like Malaysia. He added that Malaysia’s export base has been diversified from commodities to manufactured goods in the past 30 years.

By 1979, Malaysia’s top 2 exports were Crude Rubber and Cork and Wood. By the year 2000, Malaysia’s top 2 exports were Electrical Machinery and Office machines/Automated Data Processing equipment. Malaysia’s GDP per capita grew in the same period from $41 to $4,045. Compared to Nigeria’s GDP per capita, which increased from $345- $2,655 from 1985-2015, but failed to diversify export base as Crude Oil was Nigeria’s top export for the period.

“We were growing, but we did not diversify and that explains the huge level of poverty. It also explains the vulnerability of the economy to shocks,” he said.

Sanusi added that the failure to diversify explains the relativity of Nigeria’s slow pace, compared to Nigeria’s growth for the same period.“We have not moved in all these years. This is the difference between us and Asia, they moved!”

(READ MORE: Sanusi gets another major appointment)

On growth and structural change:

Sanusi made a case for a change of mindset with technology adaptation. He added that the wide usage of smartphones does not mean Nigeria has leapfrogged development, as we are not a producer of technology but primarily, a consumer.

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He added that Nigeria is yet to leverage on the investments in the telecoms sector. “Infrastructure in Africa has become increasingly decoupled from tech training. Someone who uses a smartphone to produce a Nollywood movie is producing! We need to invest in human capital to boost technology innovation, the smartphone is a ticket to wealth… Every excuse Nigeria has to not grow, Indonesia and Malaysia had. We need to move away from a consuming attitude( with technology) to production,”

(READ MORE: Why Africans are fast using Bitcoin for payment transfers)

On Power generation for productivity:

“In a low-income environment, income elasticity is far more important than price elasticity. People would pay for electricity if they could use it to earn,” he said. “Look at electricity as an economic resource, look at how much you could make. There is a difference between not earning a thing and earning something.”

He cited how China focuses on two major metrics, which are; the number of employed and the number of those with access to electricity, citing the per capita contribution of electricity to production needed to move people away from poverty.

He encouraged skilled jobs that leverage technology, which would enable growth and also remove the pressure of Oil money on the states.

“Youths need an environment that has been created to give them skills. We need to invest in broadband as an economic resource,” he said citing the importance of skill transfers in developing broadband infrastructure.

(READ MORE: Shell to focus on Nigeria, Gulf of Mexico and others as it seeks to cut 40% of costs)

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On patterns for structural changes:

Sanusi said East Asia has moved from agriculture to manufacturing and later services, majorly from the informal to the formal sector. However, in Nigeria, the bulk of a similar change has been in the informal sector.

“Manufacturing GDP in Africa has fallen from 14% in 1990 to 10.1% today. Formal job creation has been modest. This is partly because of a mistaken view that Africa can simply leapfrog manufacturing to become a service-based economy. We have declining activity, while the rest of the world has increased activity”.

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He added that an enlightened industrial policy will translate to meaningful job creation. He concluded that Nigeria needs to link infrastructure development to economic growth. “You have to make sure your projects are linked, you don’t just build a road here, a rail line there, an airport there without knowing how there are going to translate into an economy.”

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He also mentioned that Nigeria’s Public Debt has risen, and due to high inflation he cannot see how the CBN can keep expanding its balance sheet.  He urged the FG to spend more time creating the environment through reforms that will attract the investments while also fixing the balance sheet.

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Business

NLC insists nationwide strike, protest to go ahead from September 28

The NLC has set Monday, September 28, 2020, as the date for it’s proposed strike.

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Ayuba Wabba, Why the FG should reverse 6% tenancy, lease stamp duty - NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted on going ahead with its earlier planned strike and protest, with effect from September 28, 2020, following the failure of the Federal Government to reverse the increases in electricity tariff and fuel price.

According to a monitored media report, this disclosure was made by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, after the National Executive Council meeting of the labour organization in Abuja.

While restating that the proposed strike action by the organized labour would still go ahead next week, he also disclosed that the decision was unanimously taken by the chairmen of the 36 states and FCT chapters of the NLC.

This is coming as the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), extended its 7 day strike notice to September 28, to tally with NLC’s deadline for a united labour action against the increase in electricity tariff and petrol pump price.

While faulting the timing of the increase, the NEC at a meeting held at Labour House Abuja, directed the councils at 36 NLC states and Abuja to intensify mobilization of workers and other Nigerians.

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Ayuba Wabba, advised the federal government to, in the interest of industrial peace and social order, listen to cries of workers and other suffering Nigerians and rescind the increases, warning that failure to meet the demands would make the planned strike and mass protest inevitable.

He said, “The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress comprising members of the National Administrative Council, President and General Secretary of members of the affiliate unions and our state council chairpersons and secretaries of the 36 states and FCT met today (yesterday) and resolved as follows: NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100% as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation.’’

‘’This decision is premised on the fact that these twin decisions alongside other decisions of government including the increase of VAT by 7.5%, numerous charges being charged by commercial banks on depositors without any explanations will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens, including their families.

“Therefore, this increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed, but it is also counterproductive. NEC also observed that the privatization of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive result. Whereas, the entire privatization process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion, we are also surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset.’’

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