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Switzerland government has returned more than $1billion looted and kept in the country by former Nigerian military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, Ambassador Eric Mayoraz says.

Mayoraz, the Swiss ambassador to Nigeria, said on Thursday in Abuja that his country is partnering the Nigerian government to trace and return stolen funds stashed in foreign lands.

“All fund hidden in Swiss banks by Abacha was fully repatriated and so we don’t have any of such fund in Switzerland again. $752m was returned in 2005 and we discovered more and more in other banks and that involved the $322.5m that was repatriated earlier this year,” he said.

Speaking at a Forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the Swiss Embassy to discuss issues surrounding the Abacha 2 asset, the envoy explained that the ongoing efforts were aimed at getting a positive result in line with the Mutual Legal Persistence Request agreement signed between the two countries.

“Unfortunately, some of the assets that were returned, there was not so much transparency in it. So, we have to introduce the World Bank to get involved in this so that this particular one can be used by the Nigerian government with the monitoring of the World Bank,” he added.

President Muhammdu Buhari’s aide on Justice Reform, Juliet Ibebaku-Nwagwu, said the current government had done a lot in building confidence between both countries.

She said, ”Let me just say this, we just want our money back. By this administration’s commitment to open government partnership, we want the people to be involved in the monitoring of the stolen assets that were returned. We also came up with the open budget process so that Nigerians would know every budget details and they can be checked online too.”

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Google, UBA Collaborate To Provide Free Wi-Fi To Customers

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Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has collaborated with Google and ISP partner to launch Google Station in 11 key UBA branches in Lagos State as part of plans to roll out 200 stations in the country.

Google Station, a platform for providing free, high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places, began in Lagos last year, and extended to Abuja in December in partnership with Backbone Connectivity Network.

This google-powered initiative would allow customers access to internet connectivity within the 11 branches and its environs, thereby facilitating their day-to-day businesses and activities, while ensuring unhindered connectivity.

The 11 branches where the hotspot will be located are: UBA Bank Road, 810-811 Bank Road, Daleko; UBA Matori, 21 Fatai Atere street; UBA Surulere, 152 Ogunlana Drive; UBA Allen, 13 Allen Avenue, Ikeja; UBA Tisco Plaza, Alausa; UBA Apapa, 11-13 Warehouse Road, Apapa; UBA Marina, 55 Marina, Lagos Island; UBA HQ, Broad Street, Marina; UBA Lekki Admiralty; UBA Oke Arin and UBA Aspamda Plaza, Trade Fair.

At the official launch which took place in UBA’s Head Office on Wednesday, UBA’s Executive Director/ Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Chuks Nweke, expressed UBA’s excitement over the collaboration, adding that the move will go a long way to present opportunities far beyond the imagination of both organisations.

He noted that the challenges of financial inclusion which the USSD platform has not been able to solve will be eased through the Google Station, as the financially excluded will now be able to access the internet and enjoy the services provided free of charge.

He said, “It is an interesting platform which will ultimately benefit everyone. It is a win-win for everyone. Customers will have ease of doing businesses, especially with the growing use of smart phones, and the 52 million Nigerians who have otherwise been financially excluded will now have access to data through this collaboration and can carry out their transactions with ease.

“Interestingly, SMEs, who previously had challenges with funding can now do other things which they couldn’t achieve before, such as accounting services and others. Also, UBA recently launched an educational app, and so, students will be able to use these Google Station platform to carry out their necessary research from the comfort of their homes, it is an awesome opportunity with benefits for everyone which we are presenting to our customers in line with our customer 1st philosophy.

Group Head, Marketing, UBA Plc, Dupe Olusola said in addition to the 11 locations, the organisations are looking to expand beyond the shores of Nigeria to other African countries where UBA operates. She added that by the collaboration, the initiative will help ease the burden off customers while also presenting them with opportunities to excel beyond boundaries.

Google Station is a simple set of tools to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots, and aims to provide fast and reliable Wi-Fi in more places where more people spend time, such as bus stations, shopping malls, airports and public transit stations.

Specifically, the Wi-Fi service is available free of charge and partners leverage Google Station’s business model, which enables venues, system integrators, businesses and ISPs with access to fibre to setup, maintain and monetise their Wi-Fi networks.

Google Nigeria’s Country Director, Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor noted that the institutions remained focused on providing internet services to users for free.

She said, “With the help of our partners, we are offering high-quality internet access in heavily-trafficked areas like airports, markets, malls and bus stations throughout the country, especially in areas where there were no internet connections before.

“Even with the amazing progress on expanding mobile internet, we are finding that public Wi-Fi remains a crucial step in getting free, high quality internet to everyone,” she explained.

Josh Woodward, Director, Product Management, who spoke generally on the benefits of the high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in public places said the collaboration will aim to solve a basic need and allow customers access to connectivity to assist them in their day-to-day businesses and activities.

He said, “Deploying Google Station in collaboration with UBA and 21st Century is an important step to connecting the next billion users. As a result of the locations enables us to be up-and-running in no time. Even more, their WiFi signal ensures connectivity to Google Station hotspots so users can do a lot of things online and be constantly connected.”

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Ecobank Manager Sent To Prison Over N411m Fraud

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Justice Ayotunde Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos has remanded in prison a Manager with the Ecobank Plc, Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, for allegedly defrauding some of the bank’s customers of N411 million.

The Ecobank manager was ordered remanded in prison on Tuesday after his arraignment on a three count-charge of obtaining money under false pretence, false representation and fraud by the Police Special Fraud Unit.

Azike was accused of having committed the offence 2016 and 2017.

The police claimed that he fraudulently obtained the sum of about N150 million from one Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, a customer with Account number 0533010936, under the false pretence of buying him Federal Government Treasury Bill in his Bank.

The police also alleged that the accused forged the customer’s Signature, Picture and Letter of Instruction, with which he opened a parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin with account number 5333063028.

The police further alleged that the accused person without the consent of the bank fraudulently converted the sum of N411 million belonging to the bank to his personal use.
The offences, according to the prosecutor, Daniel Apochi, are contrary to sections 1 (1) (a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2)of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

Apochi said the offence is contrary to and punishable under section 1(2)(2) of the miscellaneous Act. Cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The charge against him reads: “That you lfeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ sometime in 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) from Mr Okafor Ikenna Kelvin a customer of Ecobank Plc with Account No:533010936 your employer, by falsely representing to him that you are going to purchase Federal Government Treasury Bill in Ecobank Nigeria Plc for him as Bank Manager, which representation you knew to be false or did not believed to be true and by this conducts, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 6V2006 but punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

Count two reads: “That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ sometime between 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court did forge Signature, Picture, Letter of Instruction to opened another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin Account Number: 5333063028, knowing it to be false or with intent that it may in anyway be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere to the prejudice of Ikenna Okafor Kelvin and Ecobank Plc your employer, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1 (2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offence Act, CAP M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”

Count three reads: “That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ on or about 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, did fraudulent convert to your use the sum of N411,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and Eleven Million Naira) being money fraudulently withdraw from your employer bank without their consent, and customer of your bank, Ecobank Plc for enabling you invest on behalf of the Customer, which you failed to deliver with aim of converting the illicit origin of the resources and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 15 (1) 2) and 15 (2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

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UBA Extends Africa Footprint, Commences Full Operations In Mali

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The pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc on Monday commenced full banking operations in Mali, extending its footprint and fulfilling the aspiration of deepening banking penetration in Africa.

The launch of UBA Mali  brings to 20, the number of African countries, where the Group currently operates, with global operations in the United States, United Kingdom and France.

The launch of the bank’s latest addition in Mali was occasioned by his Excellency, the President of the Republic of Mali, Mr Ibrahim Aboubacar Keita who gave an unprecedented speech at the opening ceremony. ‘Tony promised it and he did it’, said the President, referring to UBA Group’s Chairman, Mr Tony Elumelu on his promise made several years ago to bring UBA to Mali. The Malian president praised UBA Group for the vision to expand the bank’s footprint to Mali. He commended the tenacity and commitment of UBA and its Group Chairman to the development of the continent, calling African financial  institutions to follow the developmental philosophy of the bank and its chairman in   growing  infrastructure, deepening financial inclusion and being catalysts for eradicating poverty in Africa.

In his response as he welcomed the  dignitaries and all stakeholders present at the launch, Mr  Elumelu, asserted UBA’s sustainability principles and philosophy. “UBA is Africa’s global bank, a leading pan-African brand, committed to democratising banking on the continent. We are progressive partners for African corporates, institutions and governments whilst also helping to fulfil the financial aspirations of individual customers. Our train has finally arrived in Mali. We are here for mutual progress; we are here for shared prosperity”. Elumelu noted.

The Group Managing Director, UBA Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, expressed his enthusiasm on the Group’s operation in Mali, saying ‘We are in Mali to offer world class financial services that will surpass the expectations of our customers. I assure you that UBA is poised to deliver excellent services to the entire population of Mali’ he posited.

The CEO, UBA Mali, Alhassane Sissoko told customers that the Bank is  optimistic on the competitiveness of its  franchise in Mali with strong potentials for  accelerated market share gain over the near to medium term. He re-assured private and public sector players of good things to come. “The advent of UBA in Mali marks a turning point in the history of the Malian banking sector with new opportunities for businesses and individuals.  We will always have in mind, the progress of our customers’ Sissoko said.

The event ended with President Keita wishing UBA well as he cut the ribbon to open the doors to the newest Bank in Mali, ‘I wish UBA Mali a very good banking life and that their entrance into Mali will expand our banking sector even  more’.

Also present at the launch were the Prime Minister of Mali, Mr Soumeilou Boubeye Maiga; the Mayor of Bamako, Mr Adama Sangare; the Minister of Economy and Finance, Dr Boubou Cisse; the Minister of Digital economy and Communications, Mr. Harouna Touré and many other dignitaries.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading pan-African financial services group, with operations in 20 African countries, as well as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and presence in France. UBA was incorporated in Nigeria as a limited liability company after taking over the assets of the British and French Bank Limited who had been operating in Nigeria since 1949.  The United Bank for Africa merged with Standard Trust Bank in 2005 and from a single country operation founded in 1949 in Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – UBA has become one of the leading providers of banking and other financial services on the African continent.  The Bank provides services to over15 million customers globally, through one of the most diverse service channels in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 1,000 branches, customer touch points and robust online and mobile banking platforms.

•Photo shows, L-R: Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Kennedy Uzoka; President, Republic of Mali, His Excellency, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita; Chairman, UBA Plc, Tony O. Elumelu; and the Prime Minister, Republic of Mali, Soumeilou Boubeye Maiga at the official launch UBA Mali in Bamako, making it the 20th subsidiary of the pan African Bank in Africa . . . on Monday

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