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Intels is operating above the law due to its political influence – NPA Boss

The MD of the NPA has stated that Intels has been using its political influence to disregard government policies.

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NPA discovers new method Apapa businessmen use to avoid port duties

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Port Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman has said that Integrated Logistics Services (Intels), has been using its political influence to operate outside of the legal framework of the Nigerian maritime regulations.

The NPA boss disclosed this in an interview with Arise TV on Thursday, in response to the contractual and TSA issues between the FG and Intels.

In her interview with Arise News, she said there is nothing political about the FG telling a company to pay what it owes to the TSA.

She said, “I don’t see what is political about a company complying with TSA. So, if government says all revenue of government should go into the Treasury Single Account and a private company refuses to comply, and government says you must comply, what’s political about that?

“In fact, who’s being political here? it is Intels, which has always had political advantage and always difficult to get them to comply with government’s directives. So, can we look at it that way, because I am curious as to what’s political about the fact that your contract ended and the NPA is reclaiming back its service.

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“How is it political that your contract ended on August 9 and government said now that your contract has ended, we will continue that service you rendered and pay that your sister company for any revenue that arises and you say ‘No, I must be the service provider’. So, what’s political about that?

She said the political angle to the dispute was caused by Intels’ thinking that it is above regulatory scrutiny, because of its political influence.

“For me, what’s even political is the fact that a company thinks it is above the law, because it has been using its own political influence to operate outside of the legal framework. So, we should be asking Intels why it’s been political with its operations,” she said.

She added that the Service Boats relationship was another added layer to the conflict between the FG and Intels, citing that Intels sued the FG to remain as 3rd party service provider for Service Boats.

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On Intels, we have layers of relations. The noncompliance to TSA after a lot of pushback, and now their contract relationship with us on Service Boats has expired.

“They have gone to court to request for them to remain as the 3rd party provider, which is ridiculous. You can’t force government to allow you provide a service.

“Of course, we have another project to do with them regarding an amortization project. Revenues made from Service Boats is meant to pay for the amortization. But, the point is that Intels need not be the service provider for that service, to enable government repay them for that amortization.

“But of course, they have gone to court, and we are challenging it to ensure the FG gets value for their money,” she added.

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What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported in 2018 that Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman revealed how the revenue from the pilotage agreement between the Federal Government, Ports Authority, and Integrated Logistics Services was shared.
  • According to Bala-Usman, the agreement allowed Intels to take 28 percent of the generated revenue for its services, while noting that the agreement was silent on the sharing formula for the 72 percent balance between Intels and NPA. This loophole made Intels remit arbitrary payments to the government through NPA at its discretion.
  • Intels, in October 2017 had been drawn into a battle with the NPA over the termination of the pilotage agreement with the firm, based on advice by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
  • The company had threatened legal action, but later backed down and made assurances that it would comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) rules. This led to the issuance of ultimatum to Intels to pay $48million into the TSA.
  • The NPA boss said the $48 million is the amount Intels ought to have remitted to the government between November 2016 and December 2017.

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Access Bank rejects Appeal Court’s suspension of injunction against Seplat, approaches Supreme Court

Access Bank has expressed its displeasure over the ruling by the Court of Appeal which lifted the Mareva injunction against Seplat Petroleum.

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Access Bank Plc has filed a Notice of Appeal at the Supreme Court, objecting to the suspension of the interim Mareva injunction on the assets of Seplat Petroleum Development Company, by the Appeal Court.

Nairametrics had earlier reported that the Court of Appeal had suspended the Mareva injunction, and subsequently ordered the opening of Seplat’s corporate offices.

Nairametrics reported that Access Bank Plc had obtained the Mareva injunction through an Ex-Parte order dated November 13, 2020 to seal offices and freeze the accounts of Seplat, over the indebtedness of Cardinal Drilling Services, a company which Access Bank believes is partly owned by Seplat’s boss, Mr ABC Orjiakor.

After some months of being under lock and keys, respite came the way of Seplat Petroleum on January 22, 2021 when Hon. Justice Ikyegh of the Appeal Court lifted the interim order on Seplat Petroleum assets, pending the determination of the appeal filed by Seplat.

Access Bank’s reaction to the ruling

  • Expressing dissatisfaction over the ruling by the appeal court, Access Bank, through its Solicitors, Kunle Ogunba and Associates maintained that the learned justices of the court erred in law through the suspension of the interlocutory orders made by the trial judge at the Federal High Court. The solicitors regarded the outcome as an abuse of court process filed to interfere with the due administration of justice.
  • The bank in an affidavit maintained that “by discharging the said interlocutory orders, the Lower Court had unwittingly (via a motion) determined the main Appeal which seeks to also discharge the interlocutory orders made by the trial court.”
  • The bank is praying that the Supreme Court reinstate the interlocutory orders made by the Trial Court on December 24, 2020, thereby overriding the judgement of the Appeal court en route.
  • In the same vein, the Bank is also seeking a court order restraining the defendants, that is Seplat, Cardinal Drilling Services Ltd, Mr. Orjiako, Ambrose Bryant, Kalu Nwosu and/or any other person acting through them from taking further steps towards enforcing, executing or giving any effect to the ruling/order of the Court of Appeal pending the hearing and final determination of the appeal it has filed at the Supreme Court.

Flashback:

  • Recall that Nairametrics reported some months ago that Access Bank obtained an Ex-Parte Order dated November 13th, 2020, to seal the assets of Seplat over debt owed by Cardinal Drilling Services Limited.
  • The bank also obtained a Mareva injunction freezing the accounts of Seplat in Nigeria and abroad.
  • Seplat had appealed the December 24, 2020 decision of the Federal High Court granting injunctions that, among others, resulted in the sealing of its corporate offices in Lagos.
  • The Federal High Court had earlier turned down an application by Seplat to access its accounts and offices which were earlier shut down by a Mareva injunction obtained by Access Bank against it.
  • Access Bank is understood to be grappling with a string of bad loans issued under the defunct Diamond Bank and is now stepping up efforts to go after some of the debtors by obtaining several court orders to seize properties.

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Digital transformations and AfCFTA as critical imperatives for the rebound of African economies

Digital transformations as well as AfCFTA are considered necessary for the fast recovery of the African economies.

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Leveraging technology to drive government agenda is a must to keep up with changing times - Tolu Ogunlesi, SA to the President on New Media, tech

Technological transformations through digitization as well as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) are considered as quite critical in supporting the fast recovery of the African economies.

This assertion is contained in the Foresight Africa 2021 report published by African Growth Initiatives of the Brookings Institution, a non-profit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions.

According to the report:

  • ”Digital transformation is arguably Africa’s biggest opportunity arising from the crisis.
  • “During the pandemic, the continent has accelerated its adoption of ICTs: lockdown conditions have pushed many sectors to raise their online presence and expand their range of digital services, with developments that would ordinarily take years compressed into several months.
  • “Significant opportunities remain for digital acceleration in key sectors, particularly government, education, retail trade, and finance.
  • The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which also holds promise for accelerating the region’s economies through economic integration and a shift in focus toward high-productivity industrial activities commenced trading on January 1, 2021.
  • “With the increased ease of intra-African trade, African businesses will be empowered to transform continent-wide needs into opportunities for entrepreneurship.”

What you should know

  • From the hard lessons of the COVID-19, African leaders should prioritize scaling up investments in the physical and technological infrastructures needed as impetus for radical digital transformations.
  • The workforce should be appropriately equipped with the requisite trainings to acquire relevant basic and advanced digital skills that would add values in their businesses, from mobile transactions to graphic design and coding, etc.
  • Leaders should also encourage digital practices on the small-scale in order to encourage widespread usage of digital tools, as in countries like Kenya and Rwanda that have lowered their transaction charges in digital payments towards boosting adoption.
  • Leaders should focus on policies and decisions that would have greater and long-lasting impacts, especially around technological adoption and effective implementation of the AfCFTA.

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53,460 3G and 4G Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) deployed in Nigeria – Prof. Danbatta

The 3G and 4G base transceiver stations deployed in Nigeria in the last 5 years increased from 30,000 to 53,460.

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Buhari reappoints Danbatta as NCC Vice Chairman/CEO

A total of 53,460 third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) base transceiver stations (BTS) have been deployed in Nigeria in the last five years.

This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta at a briefing session for the new Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Engr. Festus Yusuf Daudu.

According to Danbatta, the effective regulatory regime put in place by his leadership has created the desired impetus for the increased deployment of infrastructure by various telecoms operators, which in turn, has helped to improve the broadband penetration and other related service delivery in the telecoms industry.

The BTS, fibre optic cables and other related infrastructure are central to the provision of improved service experience for Nigerians by their respective telecoms service providers.

“The licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) are also expected to add 38,296km to optic fibre cables when they commence full operations.

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What they are saying

According to Prof Danbatta:

  • The Commission will continue to put in its best in the discharge of its mandates, especially in facilitating the deployment of broadband, which is central to diversifying the Nigerian economy and national development”
  • “Also, it is our belief that the communications industry, under the leadership of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, will experience more quantum leaps and retain its current leadership role in the telecommunications space”

In his reaction and comment, the new Perm Sec, Engr. Festus Yusuf Daudu said:

  • “I want to thank NCC for its contribution to the Nigerian economy so far. I am not exaggerating about the achievements of NCC, in terms of contribution to GDP and how NCC’s effective regulatory role has been helping the economy in so many ways

What you should know

  • The BTS system is part of a GSM network that is responsible for the reception and transmission of radio signals from mobile phones.
  • A Base Transceiver Station is a general description of equipment consisting of the telecommunication technology and the air interface of the mobile network (GSM, UMTS etc.).
  • The deployment of the 3G and 4G base transceiver stations (BTS) increased from 30,000 to 53,460, in the last 5 years
  • While the Fibre Optic Transmission cables expanded from 47,000km to 54,725km
  • As at November, 2020, active telephony subscribers stood at 208 million with tele-density standing at 108.92%
  • Active Internet subscriptions of 154.9 million were achieved with broadband penetration rate of 45.07%
  • The number of subscriptions to DND service hit over 30 million as the service empowers Nigerians to be able to protect themselves from the menace of unsolicited text messages and calls.

Why this matters

Having more Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) is quite imperative for driving an improved broadband/telecoms service delivery to Nigerian subscribers.

The poor services currently experienced by many telephony subscribers, especially in areas not sufficiently covered by Base stations, will now be a thing of the past as even subscribers in the remotest rural areas can conveniently receive and make calls and as well as enjoy other subscription services, without hitches.

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