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UBA grows profit after tax to N72bn

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United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc., the pan-African financial services group, has released its audited 2016 full year results, showing significant growth in gross earnings and profits.

The group recorded an impressive 22 per cent growth in gross earnings to N384 billion, as at December 2016, from N315 billion at the end of the 2015 financial year.

As reflected in the results released on March 24 at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), covering the period January to December 2016, the Group saw a significant 32 per cent growth in profit before tax to N91 billion, compared to N68 billion profit recorded over the same period of 2015.

UBA’s profit after tax grew by 22 per cent to N72 billion, from N60 billion recorded the previous year.

The performance was buoyed by considerable growth in interest and non-interest income, as well as increasing efficiency gains from cost management initiatives.

UBA’s subsidiaries outside of Nigeria are increasingly gaining market share, reinforcing the strong and impressive subsidiary contribution to the Group, estimated at one-third of profit in 2016, from a quarter in 2015 financial year.

Following the impressive performance, the Board of Directors proposed a final dividend of 55kobo, subject to the approval of the shareholders at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting, scheduled to hold on April 7.

The bank had earlier paid an interim dividend of 20k to shareholders, bringing the total dividend for the 2016 financial year to N0.75, an unprecedented yield of 13.9%, based on the stock’s unit price of N5.39 on the floor of the NSE.

The results and dividend proposal justify investor confidence in the bank, as reflected in the 20% year-to-date rally in the share price, compared to the overall market loss of 5% over the same period.

Commenting on the results, Kennedy Uzoka, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer expressed satisfaction at the resilience of the bank, despite the macroeconomic challenges in a number of countries where UBA operates.

“Given the operating environment in 2016, I am very pleased with our profitability – an impressive 32% growth in profit before tax to N91 billion – whilst we have also focused keenly on operational efficiencies, illustrated by the reduction in our Cost-to-Income Ratio,” Uzoka said.

Speaking on its outlook for the 2017 financial year, Uzoka expressed optimism, as the bank’s pan-African operations increasingly gain critical mass across its chosen markets.

“As we implement our Customer First Philosophy, we are approaching 2017 with real optimism, especially with the outlook remaining

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Yobe schoolgirls’ case receiving attention –Buhari

●I never believed any govt could be careless with girls again, says Ezekwesili
●United States condemns latest kidnap case

 

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the case of students abducted from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State is receiving the deserved and that no effort would be spared to bring succour to them. This is coming as an avalanche of mixed reactions yesterday trailed last Monday’s attack and abduction of 94 girls of the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State by Boko Haram sects.

Hours after it released a statement that some of the girls had been freed, the Yobe State Government recanted on Thursday and said none has been rescued. The actual number of missing girls is also yet to be ascertained. While the police said 30 were missing as at Wednesday evening, the state government said over 50 were missing.

On Thursday, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the government was yet to ascertain the actual number of missing girls. But yesterday’s reaction saw a Co-Convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, saying it was unthinkable for such a thing to happen, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the claim by the Federal Government that the Boko Haram insurgents have been defeated was responsible for Dapchi schoolgirls’ abduction.

On its part, the United States strongly condemned the abduction, stating that: “The choice of targets including schools, markets and places of worship reflect the brutality of terror organisations.” Dapchi, a town 101km from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, is one of the oldest communities in Yobe State.

Dapchi girls’ kidnap devastating, says Buhari

A statement issued yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Mallam Garba Sheu, said the President described the news of the attack as, “devastating.”

The statement reads: “When I received the devastating news of the attack on the school and the fact that the local authorities could not account for all the students, I immediately dispatched a high-level delegation on a fact-finding visit to the town. I also instructed the security agencies to deploy in full and not spare any effort to ensure that all the girls are returned safely, and the attackers arrested and made to face justice.

“The entire country stands as one with the girls’ fami-lies, the government and the people of Yobe State. This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain. We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members. “Our government is sending more troops and surveillance aircraft to keep an eye on all movements in the entire territory on a 24-hour basis, in the hope that all the missing girls will be found.”

Ezekwesili: This is sheer absurdity

Reacting to the abduction, Ezekwesili, who was a former Minister of Education, said she never believed that there could be a repeat of the 2014 Chibok girls abduction in the country until last Monday’s incident. Speaking yesterday at this year’s Pastors’ and Leaders’ Conference organised by the Fountain of Life Church, Ilupeju, Lagos, she said she was broken at the news of the abduction of the girls, stating that she nearly gave up on Nigeria.

She said: “When I stood for Chibok girls in 2014, it was to make a statement that never in our nation should any child be ignored when they are in danger. We cannot have a society that ignored its poor.

“From the April 15, 2014, I have not stopped screaming at the governments that they must rescue these girls because I could imagine what could happen to a girl-child in the nest of killers. “We promised and made a commitment on the 30th of April 2014 and said we will not stop our sit-out until all the girls return.

How could I have known that it will take this long? I thought that if we stood demanding the return of the girls and the nations of the world joined with our government, the girls will be back in record time. It didn’t happen, it will be four years in April but I have to keep my promise. In keeping that promise, I don’t want to tell you what it has meant in my life.”

The co-founder of Transparency International, who was almost in tears said, “But I was broken on Wednesday (sobs)…when exactly the same thing has happened again. Girls were taken from their school in Yobe, the military comes out like they came out in 2014 and said they have all being rescued and I celebrated just as I celebrated when they said they have rescued all the Chibok girls. Only for it to be false because parents of Yobe school girls started screaming that they haven’t seen any child that military said they rescued.

“I was broken and I decided that I have little hope left concerning Nigeria. If we what we gave our lives to for four years could repeat in exactly the same pattern. I thought all the people who said I was wasting my time for all those girls were right after all. “I never thought another set of girls in this same country would go through what Chiboks girls are going through. I never thought any government would be careless again with the children of Nigeria with the way it has happened again. I never thought that parents would wake up and be told one thing only for it to be another thing, But the Lord spoke to me not to give up,” she said.

PDP blames FG

PDP said in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency has put Nigerians at risk by issuing false performance indices suggesting that insurgents have been completely routed, a situation which made many unsuspecting citizens to dropped their guards in the face of real threats and danger.

The party noted that despite the claim of total victory over the insurgent, the group has been perpetrating several atrocities against citizens, particularly in the northern part of the country. The PDP said: “Without doubt, if the incompetent All Progressives Congress (APC)- led government had not dished out lies to the people in a bid to score cheap political points for its ill-lucked 2019 re-election bid, more precautionary measures would have been adopted by the affected communities to ensure adequate protection.”

US flays kidnap of schoolgirls’

The Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, Ms Heather Nauert, while speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, said even though the U.S. was yet to get all the details about the abduction, the act remained barbaric.

Nauert said: “We are still trying to get all the details about that but we wanted to mention that we condemn in the strongest possible terms the terror attack on a school earlier this week in northeastern Nigeria.

The victims in the attacks were girls who were simply seeking an education.” She said the U.S. extended its condolences to the students and to their families affected by the terror attacks. The U.S. also expressed its concerns that some of the students are still not accounted for.

“We continue to support Nigeria’s efforts to counter the terror group. We also support Nigeria’s efforts to enable more than two million displaced in the Lake Chad region to return home safely.

“United States continues to provide humanitarian assistance to those who were affected by the violence,” she said. Ortom identifies with Yobe govt Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom yesterday identifies with the government and people of Yobe State over the missing schoolgirls of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi.

The governor expressed optimism that the remaining schoolgirls will soon be found and reunited with their families. Ortom, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, yesterday described the incident as traumatic especially for parents and relations of the schoolgirls, urging security agencies to ensure that the rest of the girls are rescued from the hands of their abductors.

How Boko Haram attack, kidnap of Dapchi schoolgirls occurred –Residents, School staff Residents of Dapchi, the Yobe community attacked on Monday, said the Boko Haram gunmen that invaded their community had no other mission than to abduct the female students of Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi.

The grieving parents, relatives and residents of Dapchi, a dusty agrarian community, informed an online news portal, PREMIUM TIMES that the gunmen that invaded their community were strangers who had to force some of the residents to show them way around the town.

“They were total strangers to the town. They did not even know where the school GGSS is located even though it is just by the road on the way to Gashua. And when they eventually located the school they moved in, captured many of our daughters and left without any one confronting them,” said Muhammed in tears.

The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, was already in the town ahead of the visiting Federal Government delegation. It was also his first visit to Dapchi since that attack occurred. Then, he was away from the state on an official function in Abuja, according to his spokesman, Abdullahi Bego.

The presence of the governor in the attacked town gave residents hope that they would soon be reunited with the rescued schoolgirls whom the state government had the previous night announced had been rescued by soldiers PREMIUM TIMES spoke with many of the residents who confirmed that they saw the Boko Haram gunmen taking the missing girls away in their trucks. Abdullahi Jimuna, a young man who identified himself as a trader, said many of them are yet to overcome the shock of witnessing such invasion, which was the first ever in the community.

“On Monday at about 6.30 p.m., we were about to perform the evening prayer, then we saw about eight Hilux vans and a Tata truck coming into the town the other direction”, said Mr. Jimuna, a lanky fair-skinned man. “When they arrived the town the vehicles separated in two groups, taking different directions.

Then suddenly they began to shoot sporadically. After a while, as everyone was fleeing, then we began to hear the schoolgirls were screaming, we saw some of them scaling the fence and taking to the bush. Then we saw some of them being conveyed in a truck and being taken away.”

Clear mission to abduct schoolgirls

Usman Na-Katarko, a farmer, told PREMIUM TIMES that he was very sure that the schoolgirls were the primary target of the Boko Haram gunmen whom he said were total strangers to the town. “It was about prayer time, and we were in the mosque when we began to hear sounds of vehicles moving at unusual speed around the streets,” he said. “Then we saw some of them driving towards where the security people are stationed.

Then we began to hear shootings. From my experience as an internally displaced person from Katarko, I knew that such kind of shooting was not a friendly one. So I told people that this is not good we have to take to safety.

“I told them that these people in military uniform are not soldiers, because on their Hilux vans are inscriptions in Arabic. “So I had to flee out of the mosque. As I was running towards my house to see if my family had also ran out, I saw a large number of Boko Haram gunmen (marching on) a village head of a nearby community called Dana, asking him to take them to a school; I had to dock and I heard them cursing him and shouting at him that “show us where the school is, show us where the girls school is.”

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3 die as gas explosion rocks Abuja

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Three persons were feared dead yesterday with two others sustaining various degree of injuries, following a gas explosion that rocked Abuja gateway city, Zuba, Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This gas explosion tragedy was the second one this week.

The first explosion which no life was lost to, but left up to twenty people with various degrees of burnt and hospitalised at different medical centres, occured at one of densely populated Jahi 11 village, in Jahi district of Abuja. Saturday Telegraph gathered that the explosion at Zuba claimed the life of the gas attendants and the customer who obviously was there to refill a gas cylinder. An eyewitness account by Madam Jubillee Madu, said: “The incident occured when a boy suspected to be a welder came to a gas shop with a gas cylinder to refill. Four persons were inside the shop. These persons include the wife and three sales persons in the shop.

As the sales persons were trying to refill the gas, all of a sudden the cylinder exploded and blasted the about three persons to pieces.” Another eye witness, Victoria, told Saturday Telegraph that some people around the area escaped death by whisker, but were left with various degrees of burnt, and were immediately rushed to a nearby hospital for medical attention. She said: “One of the gas attendants that died was to graduate next month and would be given a sendforth party with his own shop fully furnished as is the custom of the Igbos, and the other one was a new apprentice who was brought to replace the outgoing one and acquire a little experience on the trade.

“The remains of the deceased were put together by the policemen and taken to mortuary the police also evacuated the remaining gas cylinders from the shop.” The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Zuba Area Command, CSP Dankwano Welson, who confirmed the incident, said a distress call was received by the police and immediately a team of officers were dispatched to the place. He said: “On getting there, the gas had exploded, the victims’ bodies were seen scattered all over the place, we carried them and picked the shattered parts of their bodies and deposited them at Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital Mortuary, and the one that sustained injury to Diamond Crest Hospital.

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Tinubu vs Oyegun: We’re in support of our APC chair, says Bello

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……says Buhari waiting for more Nigerians to speak

  • President meets Oyegun

 

Barely 24 hours after the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Tinubu, accused the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, of allegedly sabotaging the reconciliatory process, Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has said majority of the party’s members have confidence in Odigie-Oyegun.

This, however, emerged as President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly met behind closed doors with Odigie- Oyegun as it was learnt that the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja was to afford Odigie-Oyegun the opportunity to respond to the allegations contained in Tinubu’s letter.

The governor, said this in an interview with State House correspondents on Thursday evening, after a meeting the governors had with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, stated that some governors on the party’s platform have confidence in Odigie- Oyegun. Bello said, “We the governors and the majority of APC members have confidence in our National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun. “We also believe in the President by appointing Bola Tinubu, our leader to reconcile some aggrieved members of our party.

However, one size fits all will not work in all the states where some erring members need to be disciplined.” The governor, who supported Tinubu’s reconciliation efforts, however, insisted that some errant party members must be disciplined despite the reconciliation efforts.

On calls by some APC governors that President Buhari should seek re-election, Bello said the President was presently consulting and waiting for more Nigerians to persuade him, before taking the decision of whether or not to seek re-election in 2019. President Buhari has been under pressure from various political groups including a group of governors known as the ‘Burists’ and the Buhari Support Group (BSG) to contest the presidency in 2019.

The governor said: “The President is still consulting and he wants more Nigerians to speak before he can make up his mind. But I am very comfortable that Nigerians will speak loud. “One, the President has done excellently well. Secondly, on fighting corruption. Even we, among the governors are competing among ourselves to ensure that the little resources available, we utilise for the people. So, corruption is reduced to the barest minimum.

“Next is the revival of the economy, job creation and making sure that average Nigerians are comfortable. Based on this performance, we are urging Mr. President to please run and fly in 2019.

“So, there is nothing more to that. And if you look at it critically, the governors themselves who naturally have immunity, we are very careful because you know that Mr. President is incorruptible. “If you do, you are going to face the consequences. So, we are careful about that and we are utilising it.

“You see among ourselves, we are competing among the states to see who does more unlike the previous regime. “So, we want such Mr. President to continue to lead the way so that we can follow and Nigerians will have the dividend of democracy.” Governors present at the meeting include, of Kaduna State, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ogun, Plateau, Bauchi and Imo State.

Meanwhile, impeccable sources told this newspaper last night that the embattled APC National Chairman had arrived the Presidential Villa at about 3pm and left at about 3.50pm. It was also learnt that Odigie- Oyegun refused to grant interview to State House correspondents, who tried to accost him on his way out of the Presidential Villa.

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