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CBN, Banks To Extend Special Stimulus Package To Media, Aviation Industry

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee would extend special stimulus package to Nigerian-registered airlines and the media industry, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said on Tuesday.

The Bankers’ Committee said the gesture will mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on the sectors and to save jobs.

Addressing the chief executives of the banks during the bi-monthly virtual meeting of the Bankers’ Committee, Emefiele urged them to support the airlines.

He noted: “Such support is critical to helping the industry recover from the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The apex bank chief also urged the banks to support the efforts of the media industry to cope with the lingering pandemic.

According to him, supporting the media would go a long way in averting massive job losses in the industry.

The CBN had in the advent of COVID-19 in Nigeria, announced a N1.2 trillion intervention fund to support critical sectors of the economy, N1 trillion of which was to support the local manufacturing sector and to boost import substitution.

Out of the fund, N100 billion was to support the health sector in equipping laboratories and enhancing research to produce vaccines and test kits in Nigeria.

Also in March, the bank unveiled guidelines for the implementation of a N100 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) as a stimulus package to support households and micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the pandemic.

With the expected support for the media, many operators would be able to weather the storm triggered by the pandemic.

The Committee also moved to boost foreign exchange (forex) liquidity as the CBN directed all banks in to submit the names, addresses, and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) of exporters that have defaulted in repatriating their export proceeds, for further action.

The directive by the CBN Governor came barely 24 hours after the apex bank announced the abolition of third-party “Forms M” payment.

It also followed the adoption of the strategy to discourage over-invoicing, which some businesses have allegedly used to divert foreign exchange from the country, through the opening of “Forms M” for which payment is routed through a buying company, agent, or other third parties.

In a statement, the Bank’s Director of Trade and Exchange, Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji, explained that the directive was aimed at ensuring prudent use of Nigeria’s foreign exchange resources and the elimination of incidences of over-invoicing, transfer pricing, double handling charges and avoidable costs that are ultimately passed to the average Nigerian consumer.

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Sanwo-Olu Lifts Curfew In Lagos

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has lifted the curfew imposed on the state with immediate effect.

This was contained in a press statement by the Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, on Saturday.

The statement read, “The curfew imposed on Lagos State after the hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests has been lifted immediately. The 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. curfew imposed by the Federal Government to curb the spread of COVID-19 remains.

“Lagosians are free to go about their businesses without any hindrance whatsoever. Security agencies will continue to discharge their duties. Lagosians are urged to co-operate with them to maintain the status of our state as one of the most peaceful.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu thanks security agencies for their efforts in restoring peace to our troubled communities. He commends Lagosians for observing the curfew and ensuring the return of normalcy.

“The Governor urges the citizenry not to do or encourage any action that may turn back the clock, but to keep living in harmony as we get set to rebuild our dear State and strengthen the unity that we are known for.”

Details later…

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: US Special Forces Storm Nigeria, Rescue Kidnapped American, Kill 6 Bandits

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An American citizen held hostage in northern Nigeria has been successfully rescued by the United States forces, CNN is reporting.

This was revealed in a statement by the Pentagon Spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, on Saturday.

The hostage, Philip Walton, was abducted Monday night on the outskirts of Massalata, a village about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the border with Nigeria.

Part of the statement reads, “U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of October 31 in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men.

“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.

“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation. The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world.”

The mission, which was several hours long, was conducted by the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 who were flown to the region by Air Force special operations, a US official with knowledge of the operation told CNN.

The US forces who conducted the mission killed six of the seven captors, the official said.

The US believes the captors have no known affiliation with any terror groups operating in the region and were more likely bandits seeking money.

The State Department confirmed earlier this week that a US citizen had been abducted in Niger.

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SARS Detained Me For 22 Days, Took Me To A Shrine, I Lost Two-Month Pregnancy To Torture —- Schoolteacher Tells Lagos Panel

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Hearing by the Lagos State Panel of Judicial Inquiry into complaints of human rights violations by men of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad continued on Saturday with a schoolteacher, Ndubuisi Obiechina, narrating to the panel how she was arrested in 2017 on a bogus allegation of being a thief and a kidnapper and tortured by SARS men till her then two-month-old pregnancy was aborted.

The schoolteacher, who appeared before the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel alongside her husband, told the panel that she was detained for 22 days and tortured till she lost her pregnancy.

She named the officers who tortured her as Phillip Rilwan, Christian, and Haruna Idowu.

She alleged that the policemen stole her husband’s N50,000 and compelled them to part with N400,000 as bail fee before they were freed.

Narrating their ordeal in the hands of the SARS men, she said, “On June 1, 2017, I received a text message from an unknown number that I had a parcel from DHL. A caller using different numbers asked for my home or office address and I gave him my school address upon my husband’s advice.

“The following day, I saw a black jeep with huge men inside it. One of them was in a DHL uniform. Immediately, they approached me, they started beating me. They said I should enter inside. They said I was a thief, an armed robber. The one in the DHL uniform removed it. My HM (headmistress) was peeping at us. I said let me go and tell her. They said no.

“I said my kid is there, they said no, that I should follow them, that my kid would die there.

“My HM came to the gate; they pointed a gun at me. She asked what was going on. They said, ‘This woman is a thief, a kidnapper. She must follow us and go. They said they were Police, SARS’.

“They pushed me inside the car and moved. The men were slapping, beating me. I was two months pregnant. I started vomiting. That’s when they found out I was pregnant. But they kept torturing me. I told them I did not know the suspect.

“They took me to their office at Ikeja. They took me to a shrine. They hanged me, beat me. They said they would force my baby out of me. They said I must produce the person or die there.”

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