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Nigeria Customs Rejects 1,800 Bags Of Rice Returned By Oyo

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A drama played out between the officials of the Oyo State Government and men of the Nigeria Customs Service, Oyo/Osun Area Command, Ibadan, on Wednesday as the Customs rejected the 1,800 bags of rice donated to the state by the Federal Government.

The officials of the Oyo State Government, led by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Jacob Ojemuyiwa, were denied entry at the main gate of the NIS zonal headquarters in Ibadan.

Recall that Dr Debo Akande, a Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde, on Friday alleged that the rice was not good for human consumption.

The delegation was told on Wednesday to return the bags to the state government.

While addressing journalists, the commissioner said, “The state had written a letter to the Nigeria Customs Service indicating that the bags of the weevil-infested rice would be returned.”

The commissioner said the team would report back to the State Executive Council for necessary steps.

An official of NIS, who under the condition of anonymity, said the delegate was turned back because the command had not received any directive to receive the rejected bags of rice.

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UAE Allows 100% Ownership Of Businesses By Foreigners From December 1, 2020

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President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued a decree overhauling foreign ownership rules of commercial companies, as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to ensure a conducive legislative environment and open up the economy to all nationalities.

The decree, which introduces significant amendments to the UAE Federal Law No. 2 of 2015 on Commercial Companies, annuls the requirement for commercial companies to have a major Emirati shareholder or agent, providing full foreign ownership of onshore companies. Under the new amendments, businesses can now be fully established by non-Emiratis of all nationalities, with companies now having a maximum of one year to comply with the amended law from the time its articles become effective.

This can be extended under a decision by the cabinet as proposed by the Minister of Economy.

The decree, in addition, supersedes the UAE Federal Law No. 19 of 2018 on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI Law). It also includes certain provisions and regulations related to limited liability and joint-stock companies aimed at attracting foreign capital and further boosting the local economy.

The decree grants relevant local authorities a set of powers, including setting a specific percentage of Emiratis in the capital allocation and boards of directors of companies, approving requests to establish companies -except for joint-stock companies- and identifying fees & charges according to the policies adopted by the UAE Cabinet.

Significant changes include that firms wishing to become joint-stock companies can, after the approval of relevant authorities, sell no more than 70% of the company, instead of the current 30%, through IPOs.

The decree authorizes the cabinet to set up a committee that includes representatives of the relevant authorities with a view to proposing activities of “strategic impact” and the measures required to licence companies that operate in such areas. Upon the recommendation of the committee, the Cabinet will stipulate what activities shall be considered of strategic impact and the required measures for licensing such companies.

Electronic voting at general assembly meetings is now permitted under the new amendments.

The decree empowers the Securities and Commodities Authority to establish the controls and procedures required for evaluating in-kind shares and the names of stakeholders attending the general assembly meetings of companies. It also allows the appointment of board members who have the expertise and are not stakeholders, without stipulating a specific percentage, as well as the dismissal of a chairman or any other board members if a judicial judgment is issued against them for committing fraud or misuse of power.

The decree enables stakeholders to sue a company in civil court over any failure of duty that results in damages.

Concerning capital increases or decreases in public companies, the decree enables the company to approve its capital increase through issuing bonds and converting them into shares.

The decree is reflective of the UAE’s forward-looking vision to open up its economy by creating a favourable legislative environment that will keep pace with the changes taking place across the global economy and supporting companies operating in the country.

Muhammad Iqbal Dawood, President Pakistan Business Council Dubai told Gulf Today that the UAE’s decision to allow 100% foreign ownership of companies would add more flavor to the country’s economic growth, adding that this great move would further boost investor confidence in the UAE and will attract more investors.

Rizwan Sajan, Founder, and Chairman Danube Group said: “Thanks to the visionary leaders of the UAE that the economic status is getting more and more favourable every day for the people to invest in the region. “

He further added: “However UAE has become a hub for investment, where most of the organizations are taking advantage of business opportunities to the fullest. These timely decisions make the country a desired destination for starting and growing business in the local and global markets. Wish the nation achieves greater heights in the coming year.”

Chandra Dake, CEO, Dake Rechsand, said: We welcome this great move of allowing 100% ownership of businesses for foreign nationals, in the UAE.

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BIG STORY

#EndSARS: UK Lawmakers Slam Buhari Regime; Demand Visa Ban, Freezing Of Assets, Other Sanctions On Nigerian Officials

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Members of the United Kingdom Parliament on Monday took turns to lambast the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for the attack and intimidation of protesters who took part in the #EndSARS demonstrations.

They demanded sanctions on government officials and security agents such as a visa ban, freezing of assets, and stopping the funding and training for the Nigeria Police Force.

The debate was a sequel to a petition started by Silas Ojo which had garnered over 200,000 signatures.

The debate by members of the Petitions Committee, which took place at the Westminster Hall, kicked off with Theresa Villiers, a member of the British Conservative Party who served as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2019 to 2020.

The Member of Parliament for Chipping Barnet constituency said, “I believe the petitioners have a credible case for the imposition of individualized sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes.”

She said the UK Government must explain the role of the government in training security agents who end up abusing the rights of Nigerian citizens.

Also speaking, the MP for Edmonton, Kate Osamor, described as undemocratic, the claim by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the killings at the Lekki toll plaza were fake news.

Osamor stated, “The Nigerian government says that it has disbanded SARS but the corruption and brutality of the security forces continues. The Nigerian government’s violence against its own citizens appears only to be intensifying.

“The Nigerian government needs to stop freezing bank accounts of key protesters; it needs to stop illegal detentions of key protesters. The Minister of Information for the Federal Government went on record to state that the CNN reporting of the massacre is fake news. This is an undemocratic conduct.”

Osamor stated that the UK government continued to sell weapons and provide training to SARS personnel despite the fact that Amnesty International and other rights groups had accused the now-disbanded unit of extra-judicial killings.

Member of Parliament for West Ham, Lyn Brown, said it was unfortunate that the Federal Government went ahead to not only accuse protesters of sponsoring terrorism and freeze their accounts but also blamed them for the increase in food prices.

Responding on behalf of the UK government, the MP for Aldridge-Brownhills, Wendy Morton, who is also the Minister at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said the reports of intimidation of #EndSARS protesters were worrying.

Morton stated that the UK government was communicating with the President’s Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

“It is a long-standing practice not to speculate on future sanctions as it could reduce the impact of the designations,” Morton said.

“We are aware that some protesters have reported facing intimidation and the British High Commissioner in Abuja continues to raise our concerns about intimidation of civil society groups and peaceful protesters with the Nigerian government,” the minister said.

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Nigerian Travellers To Pay $15,000 Visa Bond As Trump Introduces New Policy

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Nigerian visitors to the United States (US) may have to pay up to $15,000 in bonds according to a new temporary policy issued to discourage nationals of some countries with higher visa overstay rates.

The President Donald Trump administration introduced the visa bond pilot programme on Monday for B-1 visas (for business travellers) and B-2 visas (for tourists) and it is expected to run for six months — December 24 to June 24, 2021.

The rule will see US consular officers ask travellers from affected countries to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000. About 15 African countries are said to be on the list.

The visa bond pilot programme by the US Department of State is said to target mostly African countries with high visa overstay — the visitors are believed to have entered the country legally on a student, tourist, work visas and then stay past their visa expiration date.

“The purpose of the pilot program is to assess the operational feasibility of posting, processing and discharging visa bonds, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to help assess the burden on government agencies and identify any practical challenges related to visa bonds,” the policy document read.

“The pilot program is designed to apply to nationals of specified countries with high overstay rates to serve as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to ensure their nationals timely depart the United States after making temporary visits.

“The Pilot Program will run for six months. During that period, consular officers may require nonimmigrant visa applicants falling within the scope of the Pilot Program to post a bond in the amount of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 as a condition of visa issuance.

“The amount of the bond, should a bond be appropriate, will be determined by the consular officer based on the circumstances of the visa applicant.”

According to data from the DHS, almost 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their B1/B2 visas in 2018, ranking as the 5th country with the most visa overstays in the US. This makes Nigeria the African country with the most visa overstays.

In January, the United States had imposed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria as a result of the country’s failure to comply with its established identity-management and information-sharing criteria.

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