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IPOB Threatens Fresh Sit-At-Home From Aug. 23; Banks, Others Shut Despite Suspension



Despite the suspension of the sit-at-home order in the South-East by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, activities were grounded in some parts of the region.

This was as the IPOB made a U-turn and threatened to recommence the ‘every Monday’ sit-at-home protest starting from August 23.

Banks, schools, shops, and other businesses did not open for work in many parts of Abia, Ebonyi, Imo and Anambra states, while traders and other business concerns opened in Enugu State.

Though one of the reasons for the absence of normal activities in four out of the five southeastern states was that many were not aware of the suspension of the sit-at-home order, others genuinely closed shops in solidarity with the IPOB leader.

In Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, commercial banks, and other businesses remained shut as the sit-at-home order was observed irrespective of the suspension of the directive.

One of our correspondents, who monitored the situation, gathered that banks, motor parks, filling stations, eateries, major shops, and supermarkets remained closed in the state capital.

Also affected were shops at the Abakaliki International market and Ophoke-Abba market in Kpiri-Kpiri, where shop owners shut down businesses.

Major roads including the Abakaliki/Enugu; Abakaliki/Afikpo highways and other major busy internal roads like Afikpo and Ogoja roads were scanty with human and vehicular movements.

A trader, Mr Simon Ngaji at Ophoke-Abba Market, Kpiri-Kpiri explained that people, especially shop owners in the market did not receive the news of the suspension, while some doubted its authenticity.

In Umuahia, the Abia State capital, there was no visible movement of security operatives, as schools were closed, except for those conducting NECO and WASC examinations.

In Aba, a middle-aged man was shot dead at Gas Line by Express.

This was confirmed in a statement by the Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders.

The coalition condemned “the gruesome killing of an unarmed innocent youth at Gas Line by Nigerian soldiers”.

In the statement by Goodluck Ibem, the President General, and Kanice Igwe, the Secretary-General, the body further stated, “We call on Nigeria authorities to order a prompt, independent and impartial inquiry into the killing by the army, identify suspected perpetrators and ensure that they are brought to justice without delay.”

Similarly, banks, business centers, eateries failed to open on Monday in Owerri, the Imo state capital, despite the cancellation of the weekly sit-at-home order by IPOB.

We monitored activities on Monday morning in the state capital and observed that streets and roads were deserted.

Few persons, who came out, found it difficult to get vehicles that could convey them to their destinations.

Major markets like Nkwo-Orji, Alana international market, Ekeukwu Owerri, Amakaohia, and Akwakuma markets were almost empty.

The ever-busy Imo State University Roundabout, Government House Roundabout, Cherubim junction, Control Post Roundabout, Warehouse Roundabout, Emmanuel College Roundabout, and Fire service Roundabout all in Owerri were also deserted.

Also, Owerri to Orlu, Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Okigwe, Mbaise, and Aba roads were all deserted by motorists and passersby, while shops and motor parks were closed.

An artisan, who spoke with The PUNCH, said, “I am not going anywhere; I will stay at home today because my life is more important to me. They may be telling us that the sit-at-home order has been cancelled so that we will come out and be harmed. One day with my family will not kill me.”

Nothing changed in Anambra despite the suspension of the exercise, as socio-economic activities were grounded in Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and other major towns in the state.

One of our correspondents, who monitored the situation in the state, observed that banks, markets, shops, government establishments and other businesses were shut down.

A resident, who gave his name as Okechukwu Madu, said, “I heard on the Radio Biafra that there was nothing like suspension of the sit-at-home. We want the exercise to continue till Kanu is released.”

In a related development, the IPOB has threatened to recommence the ‘every Monday’ sit-at-home protest, starting from August 23.

The group had suspended the weekly protest meant to prevail on the Federal Government to release their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is in detention over allegations bordering on treasonable felony.

IPOB, while suspending the protest last week, said the exercise would only hold on the days Kanu would appear in court.

But the Media and Publicity Secretary of the secessionist group, Emma Powerful, said the group might recommence the exercise, starting from next Monday.

He said, “IPOB is no longer forcing anyone to stay at home, but our people are voluntarily doing so to show how they feel and value our leader. That will make us to continue with the exercise from next week.

“If we begin again, even an ant will not be allowed to be seen on any road or street in Biafra land in any of the protest days, unless that idiot (defaulter) has written his or her will.”


Heritage Bank MD Tasks Govt On Policies To Support Private Sector Interventions For Infrastructure Growth



The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has called on governments to provide enabling policies that would support private sector interventions to achieve the vision of infrastructural development.

He made this submission at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards with the theme: “Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy,” held weekend in Lagos, where the bank carted away duo Platinum Awards presented to Ifie Sekibo and Heritage Bank for Outstanding Support towards FICAN and Financial Reporting, respectively.

Sekibo who was represented by Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, argued that the government cannot solve the country’s infrastructure challenges, noting that it is the private sector that will deliver the solution.
According to him, the government can only provide enabling policies that will support private sector interventions.

“We need the global private sector intervention to help us achieve a vision of infrastructural development,” he said.
He noted that until the country developed an identity management system that delivers value to the citizenry, SMEs will continue to grapple with financing challenges.

He explained that though the banking industry has financed a lot of SMEs in terms of count, that it is the sector that has the largest numbers of bad loans and frauds in terms of count.

MD of FMDQ Group, Bola Koko represented by Yomi  Osinubi, Head Private Market, urged Nigeria to conceive a way its domestic capital market could fund the international capital market.

That, he said, was the only way that we could pluck the infrastructure rewards.

“If we want to pluck our infrastructure rewards, first of all we have to conceive of a way our domestic capital market can actually fund capital market.

“But the investors in debt capital market international and debt, money will come into an environment where capital is expected and there is an expectation of good management of those resources and cash flows will come back to it.

“So I think there’s the issue of maybe an underlying structure where we want to put in the capital like road infrastructure tax payment.

” If you want SMEs to get the best benefits of infrastructure development in the country, the CBN Governor mentioned the largest areas of course for SMEs which is energy.  The second-largest is the logistics, movements of cargo around the country,” he said.

Executive Commissioner, Temidayo  Obisan representing the Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda advised that the nation connected the right duration of money which according to him would be long-term.

“The major thing to identify is that infrastructure is a long-term thing,  so it Is essential we connect the right duration of money which is long term capital which is what capital market provides and which sec as a regulator should.

“We have about three surviving infrastructure focus funds in Nigeria now that are totaling almost a 100bn, itching about 90 billion at the moment and there are some that are registered programmes of 200billion,” he said.

More so, the Chairman of FICAN, Titus Chima Nwokoji, said if Nigeria’s infrastructural gap, which is estimated to be N36 trillion annually, is addressed, a lot of the country’s economic challenges will be easily tackled.

“And coming out of COVID-19 pandemic, we know that if the infrastructure is fixed and SMEs thrive, the growth that you see will be faster,” he added.

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UBA Publishes Names, Account Details Of Individuals Who Got Cheap Dollars With Fake Visas And Tickets



The United Bank of Africa has published the names of some individuals who applied for Personal Travel Allowance and bought cheap dollars at the bank but did not use it for the purpose they applied for.

The account numbers and Bank Verification Numbers of the defaulters were included in the publication.

According to the bank, the beneficiaries committed the offence after applying with fake tickets or visas.

The UBA disclosed this in a publication on its website titled ‘CBN FX defaulters’ on Friday.

It stated that “In compliance with the directive of Central Bank of Nigeria mandating banks to publish the names of defaulters of the forex exchange regulation.

“Based on regulatory directives, the following customers cancelled their trip and failed to return the PTA availed to them despite several emails, text messages and follow up phone calls.”

The bank added that “The customer(s) below presented fake visa to apply for PTA.”

Banks had earlier sent messages to their customers to notify them that travellers who bought foreign exchange from banks for travel purposes but failed to embark on the trip two weeks after their scheduled travel date must return the forex to the banks.

According to the banks, this was a directive from the CBN.

Defaulting customers who presented fraudulent travel credentials or cancelled their tickets and failed to refund the purchased PTA and BTA within two weeks, as stated in the signed customer declaration form, would have their identities and bank verification numbers published, the banks had said.

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Firstbank Expands Its International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces Its Commitment To Customer Service



In furtherance of the need to expand diaspora remittance inflow into the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has increased its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), targeted at easing the accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner.

With over 750 branches across the country, customers can receive money from the nearest FirstBank branch closest to them.

Over the years, FirstBank has been in partnership with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs which include Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes, and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflow into the country, thereby putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the world. 

Beneficiaries can receive remittance in US dollars in any of our over 750 branches spread across the country. Customers without an existing domiciliary account can have a dollar account automatically created for their remittances. You can also receive inflow directly into your account through Western Union.

In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly-owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, FBNBank Senegal.

Reiterating the Bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses, and debt servicing.

We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”

FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross-border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The Bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market. 

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