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FOREX SCAM: Dangote Officials Invited To Abuja By EFCC As Dragnet Widens

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has summoned some officials of the Dangote Group to Abuja to come along with detailed documents on foreign exchange transactions by the conglomerate covering the last nine years.Operatives of the EFCC had on Thursday stormed the headquarters of Dangote Industries Limited in Ikoyi, Lagos, in furtherance of the ongoing investigation into the alleged abuse of the foreign exchange allocations by the immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.The anti-graft commission is probing the alleged preferential allocations of forex to the Dangote Group owned by billionaire Aliko Dangote and 51 other companies under the Emefiele-led CBN.It was gathered on Friday that the operatives carted away some documents from the group’s head office on Thursday, but they did not cover all the transactions, hence the decision to summon the officials to bring the documents to Abuja on Tuesday.Saturday PUNCH learnt that Dangote was not in Nigeria when the operatives of the commission stormed the headquarters of his conglomerate as he was said to be in the United States of America. However, sources said he would return to Nigeria next week to personally sort out the problem.It was also gathered that he was aware of the demands of the anti-corruption agency, but it could not be confirmed if he was informed before the EFCC sent its operatives to his company.

But a highly placed EFCC official said senior executives of the company had been mandated to supply the commission with what he called “detailed and unambiguous documents on the demands by the commission.”It was gathered that the officials would be expected at the agency’s office on Tuesday.“Yes, they (Dangote officials) asked for time to enable them to get all the necessary documents, which was granted. The idea is not to be seen to be witch-hunting anyone. What the commission wants is to get evidence and details of how government funds were allocated and that is all,” the EFCC official, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media on the development, said.An official of the Dangote Group also confirmed that some key personnel of the conglomerate were currently gathering the documents requested by the EFCC to clear the company of any wrongdoing.The source noted that the firm had sent some documents and key members of staff to the EFCC headquarters in Abuja in respect to the ongoing investigation, adding that it was shocked that the anti-graft agency still stormed its Lagos office on Thursday.

The official stated, “Yes, we were aware of the ongoing investigation by the EFCC and our people were at the headquarters in Abuja with some of the requested documents as of the time its operatives invaded our Lagos office in what I will describe as a show-off.“We are a law-abiding group, but it is difficult to get all the documents covering the tenure of Emefiele at once, but our people are working at night to get all the relevant documents, which will be sent to the anti-graft agency next week.”The source added, “As of the time of the raid, our people were in Abuja. We have been sleeping in the office to make sure that we get all the documents the EFCC requires for the investigation.“We are talking about documents from 2014 to June 2023. It is a lot of documents and it will take time to get all of them readily available. We have, however, sent the ones we have at our immediate disposal and they are with the commission.“The raid was just a way of embarrassing us and an act of show-off. We are law-abiding people running a legitimate business and we are cooperating with the investigation.”The source also added that Dagote was in the United States and was worried about the development.Before the raid, Dangote Industries had in November 2023 refuted allegations that it was involved in forex malpractices and money laundering involving $3.4bn allegedly facilitated by Emefiele.

The company denied the claims that the money was channelled to its non-Nigerian subsidiaries, prompting illicit financial flows and round-tripping.Dangote noted that its investment undertakings were sourced from the interbank market, with all transactions supported by Letters of Credit in line with international standards.The search of the Dangote headquarters on Thursday, it was gathered, commenced around 3pm and lasted several hours.During the raid, the operatives ransacked offices and carted away several financial documents related to forex allocations to the group from 2014 to June 2023, when Emefiele was suspended from office by President Bola Tinubu.It was further gathered that the commission had asked the 51 firms under probe to submit Form A and Form M detailing the forex allocations to them between 2014 and June 2023.But while some companies complied with the directive, several others were said to have asked for time to get the documents.The Special Investigator on the CBN and Related Entities, Jim Obazee, had reported to the President how Emefiele allegedly lodged public funds in foreign currencies in no fewer than 593 bank accounts in the United States, United Kingdom, and China without the approval of the apex bank’s board of directors and the CBN Investment Committee.Obazee found that the ex-CBN governor allegedly lodged £543, 482,213 in fixed deposits in UK banks without authorisation, adding that he allegedly manipulated the naira exchange rate and committed fraud in the e-Naira project.

The investigator in a report submitted to the President on December 20, 2023, recommended that Emefiele, who is being prosecuted for alleged N1.2bn procurement fraud, should face fresh charges over the handling of the naira redesign policy and alleged illegal issuance of currency under Section 19 of the CBN Act.He also recommended that the ex-CBN governor should be prosecuted alongside Tunde Sabiu, a former aide and nephew to former President Muhammadu Buhari, and 12 top directors of the CBN.Emefiele denied the indictments, describing the content of Obazee’s investigation report as “false, misleading, and calculated to disparage my person, injure my character, and serve the selfish interest of the private investigator.”A top EFCC official revealed that the EFCC was probing the preferential foreign exchange allocations allegedly made by Emefiele in defiance of extant financial rules and regulations and the CBN Act.The official claimed, “The EFCC is investigating the Dangote Group over the preferential foreign exchange allocations made by the former CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, in defiance of extant financial rules and regulations and in disregard to the CBN Act.“There are about 51 other big companies under probe over the development too, and the commission discovered that the allocations were not approved by the former President Muhammadu Buhari, so it was more of a means for the former CBN governor and his cronies to launder money through forex and Bureau De Change operators.”

(C)Punch

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Ecobank Partners Nigeria Chess Federation: To Host 2024 National Schools’ Team Chess Competition

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Lagos, April 15, 2024 – Ecobank Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of the Ecobank Group, has entered a strategic partnership with Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF) to host the 2024 National Schools’ Team Chess Competition. The competition is scheduled to hold between 24th – 28th May 2024 at the Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC) in Victoria Lagos. It is open to students from primary, Secondary and Tertiary education level with prizes of over N10 million to be won. Representatives of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth Development, parents, teachers, embassies and several others are expected at the event. Registration and participation are free, and School’s team can register by sending an email to: nationalschoolsteamchess@gmail.com Managing Director/Regional Executive, Ecobank Nigeria, Bolaji Lawal, said the decision of the bank to sponsor the Chess competition was to further showcase Ecobank’s commitment to supporting intellectual and sports development in Nigeria, being part of Ecobank’s strategic human capital development drive.“Children and youth empowerment is part of our shared objective as the pan-African Bank. It aligns with our overall long-term vision of building a world class Pan African bank that contributes to the economic and financial integration of the continent. We are also using the opportunity of this competition to introduce and empower them with convenient, affordable, and accessible digital financial services they can access anytime and anywhere they are. Arrangements are in place to make the competition exciting and fulfilling for both the children and undergraduate students”. He stated.Vice President, Nigeria Chess Federation, Prince Adeyinka Adewole said Chess, the game of Kings and Queens, has proven to be more than just a pastime, stating that it is an educational tool that enhances critical thinking, concentration, and problem-solving skills. While commending Ecobank for being a good ‘corporate citizen’ for sponsoring the competition, he noted that the competition will promote and showcase the skill and talent of chess players from Nigerian schools, while promoting teamwork, fostering a spirit of sportsmanship among participants, and providing networking opportunities to players.He enjoined all the institutions to take advantage of this opportunity to participate in the prestigious event, adding that participation will undoubtedly contribute to the championship’s success and provide an enriching experience for the participating students.Ecobank has embarked on several initiatives to develop youths in the country. The bank through a collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), is currently providing training and support services on Agribusiness which includes aquaculture, horticulture, poultry, and value addition to 16,000 youths in Nigeria. Also, Ecobank recently partnered with Learntor to provide capacity building for youths through Agile, Scrum, Data Analytics, Business Analysis, Cyber Security, and Scrum Master Certifications. The bank has also refurbished and donated learning equipment, provided digital training for students and promoted financial literacy in several schools across the country.

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LAWMA Welcomes April Interns  

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LAWMA Academy, the educational arm of the Lagos Waste Management Authority, has welcomed a fresh set of candidates, for its one-month internship for the month of April.The interns were all recent graduates of various universities in the country, across different academic disciplines.Addressing the interns, the Managing Director/CEO of LAWMA, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, congratulated them for making the internship programme, as it would assist them, to learn as much as possible about waste management and inherent benefits.He noted that waste was really not waste but resource, urging them to embrace the business opportunities offered by the circular economy value chain, where so-called waste becomes wealth and blessing, to individuals, society and the environment.According to him, “This internship will go a long way in exposing you to the positive and rewarding side of waste management. I am sure you are aware that nothing is a waste until you waste them. What used to be waste is now a resource that can be harvested to make money and improve lives. Indeed, it’s a long value-chain you can tap into, depending on your area of interest. It is a promising and highly rewarding venture.”Speaking further, the LAWMA boss urged them to pay good attention to the practical aspects of their training and arm themselves with determination, to become change agents and champions of environmental sustainability.Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Director of LAWMA, Mr. Kunle Adebiyi, urged the interns to maximize the knowledge gained, to leverage their areas of interest along the value-chain, for personal enterprise and good reward.He said, “This is a good opportunity for you to acquire knowledge and make money from modern waste management initiatives. What is important for you here, is to pay attention to the various things you will be taught, so that you can decide where to key in, for future enterprise and handsome financial rewards”.Similarly, LAWMA Academy had last month ran a one-month internship programme for some graduate and post-graduate candidates, representing the first batch of interns for this year. The candidates who enjoyed in-depth training in modern waste management from various departments of the agency, received completion certificates, after presenting their group final project, an illustrative diagram on circular economy, relating to manufacturing industries, to the LAWMA boss.LAWMA Academy, has since the beginning of this year, taken environmental advocacy to more than 5,000 pupils of public schools across the state, in Eti-Osa, Ikeja, Mushin, Ijora –Olopa, Agege, Victoria Island, and other areas.The pupils were enlightened on LAWMA’s diverse operations, effects of indiscriminate waste dumping, making money from recyclables, usage of trash bags and cans, shunning cart pushers and the need to patronise assigned PSP operators.The founding objective was to expand the frontiers of knowledge on waste management, by teaching it as much as possible, to the younger generation for new cultural orientation and perception of waste management, for environmental sustainability. It is the basis for stretching the dragnets to bring in as many young people as possible into the fold, to form the vanguard of environment ambassadors, for a new culture and orientation, for a people-friendly environment.LAWMA Academy Internship, is a monthly programme of environmental and waste management education, for willing candidates.

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Cryptotimes Africa and 4 Other Crypto-Focused Publications shaping the narrative of cryptocurrency in Africa

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It’s no doubt that Africa has emerged as a hotbed for cryptocurrencyadoption and innovation. With a growing interest in digital assets andblockchain technology, several publications have sprung up to cater tothe information needs of crypto enthusiasts across the continent.Among these, Cryptotimes Africa stands out as a leading source of newsand insights on the African crypto scene. Let’s take a closer look atCryptotimes Africa and five other noteworthy publications that areshaping the narrative of cryptocurrency in Africa.1. Cryptotimes AfricaAs the name suggests, Cryptotimes Africa is dedicated to covering allthings crypto-related on the African continent. From news updates andmarket analysis to interviews with industry experts, this publicationoffers a comprehensive view of the rapidly evolving crypto landscapein Africa. With a focus on promoting blockchain adoption and financialinclusion, Cryptotimes Africa serves as a valuable resource for bothnewcomers and seasoned veterans in the crypto space.2. Bitcoinke.ioBitcoin Africa is another prominent publication that provides in-depthcoverage of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Africa. With a teamof experienced writers and analysts, Bitcoin Africa deliversinsightful articles, guides, and reviews to help readers navigate thecomplexities of the crypto market. Whether you’re interested intrading strategies, regulatory developments, or technologicalinnovations, Bitcoin Africa has you covered.3. TechnextTechnext is a broad tech publication with a strong focus on Africanstartups, innovation, and trends, coverage includes articles onblockchain technology, cryptocurrencies beyond Bitcoin, and theirapplications in Africa.4. Tech CabalTech Cabal focuses on providing in-depth analysis and reporting on theAfrican tech ecosystem, including funding rounds, investment trends,and interviews with key players. While its primary coverage is notsolely focused on cryptocurrencies, Tech Cabal features insightfularticles on blockchain technology, cryptocurrency adoption in Africa,and the regulatory landscape. Targeting investors, entrepreneurs, andprofessionals working in the African tech sector, Tech Cabalcontributes valuable insights to the broader conversation on cryptoinnovation in Africa.5. NairametricsNairametrics is a financial and business news platform with a focus onthe Nigerian economy and markets. While covering a wide range offinancial topics, Nairametrics includes articles on cryptocurrenciesas an investment asset class, analysis of their impact on the Nigerianfinancial sector, and regulatory updates. Targeting investors,business people, and those interested in the financial sector inNigeria, Nairametrics provides valuable insights into the evolvinglandscape of cryptocurrencies in Africa’s largest economy.In conclusion, Cryptotimes Africa and the aforementioned publicationsare playing a crucial role in shaping the narrative of cryptocurrencyin Africa. By providing reliable news, analysis, and educationalresources, these platforms are empowering individuals and businessesto participate in the digital economy and seize the opportunitiesoffered by blockchain technology. As the crypto revolution continuesto unfold, these publications will undoubtedly remain essential guidesfor enthusiasts and professionals alike.

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